5 Common Word Choices that Could Sabotage Your Marketing Copy

Nicholas Graziade

It was her first day as a junior editor, and Jill was excited! However, after a few hours diving into her company’s paperwork, she realized something: her colleagues’ usage was confusing her beyond belief!

“Did he mean accept or except?”

“Was it an addition or edition?”

“What was meant to be discreet or discrete?”

Thankfully, she had a passion for language and an uncanny eye for detail. She dove right in and made sure that everyone’s word choices were clear and easy-to-understand.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets to work with someone like Jill. So, to make sure that everything is crystal clear, I’d like to clarify some common usage errors.

Wait…what is Usage?

Usage is the way that you correctly use a specific word. It can be a tricky thing. This is especially true when we’re composing content, emails, or blog posts because the way we speak often differs from the way we write. Let’s look at the three common usage errors from the story above.

Accept vs. Except

Accept: To take something when it is offered (Jill accepted a promotion).
Except: To leave something out or exclude something (I read every chapter last night except the last one).

Addition vs. Edition

Addition: Something that has been added (He made a great addition to our team).
Edition: A publication (Our association was recognized in the latest edition of the New York Times).

Discreet vs. Discrete

Discreet: Cautious or secretive (The detective needed to be discreet when he boarded the train to London).
Discrete: Distinct or separate (I separated the reports into three discrete categories).

You should also note that usage does not always occur with words with similar sounds. Here are two more examples that show you what I mean.

Among vs. Between

Among: Used with more than two people/things (Her estate was split among her five grandchildren).
Between: Used with two people/things (There weren’t many differences between Sarah and I).

Virtually vs. Actually

Virtually: To say “in essence” or “in effect” (He was virtually head of the department in Jonathan’s absence).
Actually: To say “in fact” (We actually determined that our engagement increased tenfold!).

Usage and You

English is a nuanced language, and when you’re working with a lexicon of over 150,000 words, you’re bound to find some peculiarities that are difficult to grasp. However, if you understand the proper usage of your vocabulary, you’ll never be at a loss for words.

Looking for more tips on writing great marketing copy? Check out my thoughts on using verbs to improve your content, who vs. whom, and how to stop using passive voice. 

About the Author
Nicholas Graziade

As the Documentation Architect at Informz, Nick is a technical writer, copyeditor, and grammar guru all rolled into one! When not keeping tabs on the Informz KnowledgeBase, he enjoys writing poetry, mastering the bass guitar, and reading works by famous philosophers.