Writing for Business


May 8, 2013  6:10 PM

Underlying and underlining — two different words, completely different meanings

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Debating climate change with steadfast contrarians is pointless because their ___________ beliefs are not based on scientific data.
a. underlining
b. underlying

Continued »

May 3, 2013  2:09 PM

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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.)

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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 »


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