How Do You Spell That?

Have you ever been working on something, and suddenly looked up, wondering how that word should be spelled? Or whether you’re using the right word, spelled in the right way?

It has come as somewhat of a shock to many of us to learn that “words” we have always thought were words, indeed are not. Not words at all. For one example, “alright,” which, according to my big American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is “Non-Standard,” and should be spelled all right – two words.

I love what this dictionary has to say in its usage note: “…the spelling of alright has never been accepted as a standard variant…the writer who chooses to risk that spelling had best be confident that readers will acknowledge it as a token of willful unconventionality rather than as a mark of ignorance.”

As I’ve already unabashedly admitted to you, I love reading the dictionary, as my dad used to say, “just for fun.” I’ve been wondering about the following words, looked them up, and thought you might be interested in what I found out:







Take a look: Which of these is one word? Two words? How should they be used, and when?

Anytime: Anytime (one word) means at any time (three words), and you can use it either way with confidence.

Sometime(s): Sometime(s) is a bit more complicated. Sometime (one word) indicates some indefinite time in the future, as in, “We’ll have to get together sometime.” But what if you really mean it? “We’ll have to get together some time after the first of the year,” (two words) indicating a definite point in the future.

Sometimes, on the other hand, means “now and then,” or “occasionally,” or “from time to time.”

Oft-times: Another good one for the dictionary lover! The first part, “oft,” means “often,” and comes from the Middle English, which comes from the Old English. (See what you can learn from the dictionary!) The modern, most-often-used word is oftentimes (one word) and means repeatedly, or frequently.

Oft-, when used today, is generally used in combination with another word, e.g., oft-times, oft-expressed, or oft-repeated, and oft-times is used by writers, and by academics as a tool of a more formal, or an academic tone. Note that a hyphen follows “oft-.”

Anyway(s): Anyway is one word, meaning in any way (two words) or manner; in any case; or nevertheless.

Anyways is “Non-Standard,” or not an accepted word.

However: One word, meaning in whatever manner or way (However it happened, it will work to our advantage.); or to what extent or degree (They went, however reluctantly, anyway.)

However can also be used to strengthen the word how (However did they do it?), or to mean nevertheless (It’s expensive; however, it’s well worth it!), or to mean “on the other hand.” (It was essential; however, it took hours!)

Anyhow: A great, uncomplicated one word, meaning in whatever way; or carelessly, haphazardly; or in any case; or nevertheless.

Whenever you think of a word you are not exactly sure of, write it down. When you have a minute, look it up – as dad said, “just for fun.”

Bring Gail to your workplace for an onsite workshop, coaching, or consulting. Or to work with your team to complete a writing project.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Tycer, All rights reserved.


Blogger Tip #1: Make it readable

This week, we’re welcoming blogger Marilyn Tycer. Marilyn is a graphic designer and blogger, and we’ve asked her to share some of her tips for bloggers.

Tip #1: Make it readable.

Now that you have a subject for your blog, and some ideas for posts, what comes next? Start typing! But it’s important to take care to craft your blog posts into something readable. So before you hit the “Publish” button, take a moment to revise your writing. While the subject of your blog might be popular, your blog probably won’t get a lot of followers if your writing is hard to read or bland. Continue reading


Overcoming Email Irritants

If I were to ask you what are the things about your incoming email that are most likely to drive you right over the edge some day, what would you say?

Here are the most common, perhaps not-so-surprising answers most often given at my email workshops across the country:

1.  Emails sent “reply all,” or to an entire emailing list, rather than just to those few who really have a need for the information

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Using the Right Word: Accept vs. Except

One of the many reasons that I like Writers INC is that they have a section called “Using the Right World.” This section is great for helping writers figure out which word they want to use. Here’s an example:

accept, except: The verb accept means ‘to receive’ or ‘to believe’; the preposition except means ‘other than.'”

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Review: Writers INC

[Image source]

Writers INC is a valuable resource for writers of all ages and all genres. While intended for high school students, it contains a wealth of essential information that is relevant to business writers.

A quick look at the Writers INC table of contents:
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Proofreading Tips, Tactics & Techniques

Get Ready:


1. Start the easy way. Use your spell checker—remember, it will “OK” any word that is correctly spelled, whether or not it’s correctly used

2. Use the grammar checker. Make sure you understand what it’s trying to tell you.

3. Leave some time between inputting the material and proofreading it. Overnight is good. When possible, try to schedule proofreading when you’re fresh, and there are the fewest distractions.

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Let Your Computer Tools Help

There’s a lot more to your word processing program than just spell checker!

For most PC and MAC versions of MS Word:

  1. Go to the “Tools” menu. Choose among the following: Spelling and Grammar, Thesaurus, Hyphenation, Dictionary, Language, Word Count. (Some of these may be found in subfolders—example: in Microsoft Word 2003, Thesaurus is found under Tools > Language > Thesaurus.)
  2. Go to File > Properties > Statistics. This will give you Date Created, Date Modified, Printed, Last Saved by, Revision #, Total Editing Time, and Statistics: Pages, Paragraphs, Lines, Words, Characters, and Characters with Space.

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Five Steps to Easier Spelling

These five steps will improve your spelling.

1. Read more, making note of any word that does not seem to be spelled correctly. After you have finished your reading, check the spelling of each listed word in the dictionary. Add each correctly-spelled word to your personal “hit list” of frequently misspelled words.

2. Obtain a package of “sticky note” pads.  There will probably be about 20 sheets per pad.

3. Using the entire pad, write each misspelled word from your “hit list” once on each page of a “sticky note” pad (about 20 pages).

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