Using the wrong word in written (or spoken) communication at work is embarrassing.
You can get away with some mistakes – many people can’t remember the precise usage of ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. ‘Practise’ and ‘practice’ also confuses the masses. Make a boo-boo with these and you’ll barely create a ripple.
But if you misuse any one of the following, your reputation for the command of written English will be mud. Plus, you’ll look like a bit of a dill.
1. accept and except
Accept is a verb. An action word. So if you accept something, you consent or approve of it.
I accept your resignation.
I accept your apology.
Tip: use the ‘a’ in accept to remember ‘approve’.
Except is a preposition. It’s used to link phrases in a sentence. It means to exclude a thing or person from part of your statement.
All employees are to attend, except those on night shift.
Every state signed the education funding model, except Victoria.
Tip: use the ‘ex’ in except to remember ‘exclude’.
2. who’s and whose
Who’s is a contraction that means ‘who is’.
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
Who’s presenting at the meeting today?
Tip: the apostrophe is there to indicate a missing letter, not possession.
Whose is the possessive of who. It indicates ownership.
The author, whose writing was very clear, made a strong case for change.
Whose dinner is this?
Tip: read out loud using ‘who is’. If the sentence doesn’t make sense, then use ‘whose’. If it sound’s sensible you’re safe to use ‘who’s’.
3. of and have
Never write (and absolutely never say) ‘of’ instead of ‘have’.
Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve – all correct contractions. Written in full, they would read: should have, could have and would have.
I should’ve stuck to the agenda.
The month end results could’ve been better.
I would’ve paid any price for the tickets.
Tip: look at the ‘ve – it almost spells have. It definitely doesn’t spell of. So never, ever write ‘I should of known better’.
Whether you’re writing emails, web copy or important reports, your business writing will be better understood if you remember how to use these words.