5 Common Word Choices that Could Sabotage Your Marketing Copy
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.