Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

May 3, 2013  2:09 PM

Tie me over vs. tide me over; also: the importance of fact-checking

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
commonly confused terms, meanings of common expressions

Which is correct?
I forgot to buy coffee last night and now this single cup will have to ___________ until the store opens.
a. tie me over
b. tide me over

Continued »

May 1, 2013  5:20 PM

A homage or an homage?

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
a or an, Affectations, CIO, Google poll, pronunciation

Which is correct?
The monument, built to resemble a giant iPhone, was created as _______ to Steve Jobs.
a. an homage
b. a homage

Continued »

April 23, 2013  10:26 PM

Another thing coming or another think coming?

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Anachronisms, archaic words and phrases, commonly misused expressions, OED, The Word Detective

Which is correct?
If you think you can rely on Microsoft Word’s grammar checker, you’ve got another _______ coming.
a. thing
b. think

Continued »

April 17, 2013  9:10 PM

Weasel words, euphemisms, and corporate communications

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, corporate communications, weasel words

Which is correct?
__________ saved us $750,000 in payroll expenses.
a. A headcount reduction
b. Layoffs
c. Downsizing
d. Rightsizing

Continued »

April 11, 2013  12:48 PM

Torturous path or tortuous?

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
commonly confused words, commonly misspelled words, Errors in the media, ESL, word meanings

Which is correct?
Poor Apple Maps. It took a ________ path, full of twists and turns that were not adequately described in the directions, ending in firings and apologies.
a. torturous
b. tortuous

Continued »

April 5, 2013  11:41 AM

Weasel words and their BFF, the passive voice

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
active voice / passive voice, CIO, weasel words

Occasionally, you want to own up to something without really taking the blame. You want to indicate that you know there’s a problem without indicating that you caused it. The passive voice can be very helpful.

Here’s the classic example: Mistakes were made.

You’re hoping that will come across as calm acceptance of the fact that something has — somehow! — gone wrong. In reality, it translates to “I made some mistakes but I’m a pompous twit and cannot admit to it. Furthermore, I think you’re such a dimwit that you won’t realize.” It’s like having your mom walk into the room where you stand alone, empty glass in hand and puddle at your feet, and say “Milk was spilt.”

There are times when the passive voice is the best option┬ábut that’s not when you’re trying to wriggle out of taking responsibility for something.

If you say mistakes were made, you’re making another one as you speak.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

April 4, 2013  12:38 PM

Can you figure out what this sentence means? (No, you can’t.)

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, grammatical puzzles, polysemy, word meanings

What does this sentence mean?
As a result of the accountant’s oversight, the company was sanctioned.

a. The company got approval because the accountant missed something.
b. The company was penalized because the accountant missed something.
c. The company got approval because the accountant was keeping an eye on things.
d. The company was penalized because the accountant was keeping an eye on things.
Continued »

April 3, 2013  11:37 AM

Weasel words: issue

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
business communications, CIO, weasel words

Which is correct?
Due to a configuration problem, your email servers are down and users have no access. How should you describe the problem?
a. Our email servers are down.
b. We are dealing with configuration issues.
c. Users are experiencing connectivity issues.

Continued »

March 25, 2013  12:13 PM

There’s a word for it: The spiteful behavior of objects

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, obsolete terms, obsolete word of the day, Oxford English Dictionary

Which is correct?
My computer kept rebooting, Siri kept mocking me, and the printer was emitting nothing but a low mechanical drone and the occasional beep. It seemed that all the devices in my study had been infected with ______________.
a. resistentialism
b. nidulation
c. curmurring

Continued »

March 19, 2013  12:33 PM

Is that your queue to leave or your cue to leave?

Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, common misspellings, ESL, Google poll, meanings of common expressions

Which is correct?
When the wedding DJ puts on Macarena, that’s my ______________.
a. queue to leave
b. que to leave
c. cue to leave

Continued »

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