Home > Review > Using Inappropriate Words Can Lead to Wrong Results : A review of the book ‘100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid’

Using Inappropriate Words Can Lead to Wrong Results : A review of the book ‘100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid’

The story is told of a hungry man who went to a meat shop hoping to buy meat to prepare a meal for himself. He saw what he thought he wanted so he shouted to the shop keeper, “I want a cock”. “A cock?” asked the shop keeper. “No, we have no cocks here”. “All right then I will make do with a hen”, said the hungry man,

“A hen?” the shop keeper repeated. “Sorry, I do not have a hen”. By now the exasperated hungry man was sure that the shop keeper was simply refusing to sell him what he wanted, so he shouted, “fowl, fowl”. Taken aback by the sudden outburst of his customer, the shop keeper promptly led him to the refrigerator where he pointed at a chicken and said “the fowl is there”. “Oh, you meant chicken, said the shopkeeper as he wrapped the chicken for the hungry man who went away happy that he had finally had what he wanted to buy.

Using the wrong words at the wrong place does not always end up happily as illustrated by the above story, especially, if it involves a written document which is read at a time when the writer is not around to explain what he intended to communicate to the receiver of the message. This then calls for caution when writing and sending out written messages since they have to be written in a way that will communicate the exact message the writer wants to communicate to the reader.

It is in this vein that the book “100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid” by Meave Maddock is a must read for every serious writer who wants to communicate his ideas effectively.

The 45 page book examines various mistakes that are commonly made in the English Language with regards to usage, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Getting a firm grasp on usage, grammar, spelling and punctuation of the English Language is essential for effective communication because spelling a word wrongly, even by just omitting one word, can give a different meaning to what one wants to communicate.

Writing 'wether' which means castrated sheep or goats instead of 'weather'can be disastrous.

Consider the following scenario: you are living in a farmhouse with several animals and you have received an invitation to attend a party. You take a look outside and realize that it is going to rain and you do not want to drive three miles to a party in the rain. So you send an email to your friend saying, “I cannot attend the party because the wether is bad” when what you actually want to say is that “I cannot attend the party because the weather is bad’. Yes, the two sentences mean quite different things. I just found out from the book “100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid” that wether means a castrated goat or sheep. So inevitably, you are telling your friend that you cannot attend his party because of your castrated goat or sheep which is bad and this can be a very logical conclusion on the part of your friend since you live in a farmhouse. Your friend might not take such an excuse kindly.

The book cautions writers on the right spelling of words whose verbs and nouns are pronounced in a similar way but have different spellings. Thus, one learns to distinguish the verb ‘advise’ from the noun ‘advice’ and the verb ‘license’ from the noun ‘licence’. One also learns to distinguish between words like ‘lightning’ which it described as “flashing caused by an electrical discharge in the atmosphere” and ‘lightening’ which means “the state of becoming brighter or lessening the weight of something’.

“100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid” also touches on usage mistakes involving everyday words such as “bring” and “take” and words such as  “disinterested” and “uninterested” which have quite different meanings.

The book looks at grammatical mistakes involving the wrong use of the “participle’ which result in “dangling participles” and also shows how to use the pronouns “who” and “whom” appropriately.

These are but just a few things any writer can learn from reading “100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid”. As the saying goes, the “proof of the pudding is in the eating”. So just go to http://www.dailywritingtips.com/100-writing-mistakes-to-avoid-book and grab a copy of the book for yourself. It will save you a lot of embarrassing mistakes and make your writings more interesting, readable and above all more understandable.

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