Have you ever been stumped over a word or phrase?
(Is it "running the gambit" or "running the gamut"? Is it "Did you loose your keys?" or "lose"? Is it "advice" or "advise"? Is it "I'm going too the store" or "to"?)
I see people, even professional writers, make these (and many other) errors all the time. But, if you write for a living, frequent errors can make you seem unprofessional. And even if you write only blogs, e-mails, memos, or other business communications, such errors can lower people's opinions of your abilities in other areas.
Sure, you can read books on grammar, as well as dictionaries and thesauruses to learn all the intricacies of the English language. (And that's a great idea if you're a serious writer.) But if you are looking for a quick way to distinguish between the right and wrong words and phrases, as well as when to use an apostrophe or an ampersand, and a lot more, this quick reference guide can help.
It explains the differences between correct and incorrect usage, and why one is right and the others are wrong, and it does so without delving into the guts of grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation. It tells you only as much as you need to know to get the job done and makes it easy to remember the differences in the future.
And it isn't some dry textbook. Instead, many of the examples and explanations use humor to keep the mood light and make the experience interesting and entertaining, rather than mind-numbingly boring.
Here are a few examples to give you an idea of the writing style and the type of information the book offers. For a longer excerpt, go here.
Amount vs. Number or Quantity
Wrong: We need
to collect a larger amount of cans
than last year.
Use amount when referring to something that can’t be counted. For example, “The storm deposited a large amount of sand on the shore.” Use number or quantity when writing about something that can be counted. “No amount of money can make up for the number of lives lost in the disaster.” (Why did I use amount instead of number with “money”? After all, we can count money, can’t we? Well, just how many monies were we talking about?)
Grin and bare it vs. Grin and bear it
Sometimes you just have to grin and bare it.
The verb bear has a number of meanings, including to hold up under stress. The expression grin and bear it, then, means to endure with a smile on one’s face. It’s akin to whistle while you work, in the sense that a smile or whistle theoretically makes difficulties easier to tolerate. The sound-alike grin and bare it evokes images of someone wearing a broad smile while streaking.
Walla vs. Voila
turned the corner and walla, there it
Voilà (or voila) is French for “see there.” It’s used to call attention to something or express satisfaction or success. Walla is simply an attempt to spell it phonetically. But even that fails, because the correct pronunciation of voila is vwa-LA (not wa-LA). The v is not silent. On the other hand, if you’re trying to write Walla Walla, Washington, then, yes, you have the correct spelling.