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English Can be a Bitch

From 140 characters to a dissertation, effective words and language follow rules of the road that go beyond “i before e except after c.” This does not equate to cookie-cutter content; this equates to understanding when and how to break from linguistic norms and expectations to make sure your message hits the mark.

Here is what I know and believe (and where I can help you avoid missteps):

- Succinct and compelling are not mutually exclusive.
- Unique does not need a qualifier (i.e., “really unique”). Something is unique or not unique. Full stop.
- You raise crops; you bring up children.
- “More than” and “over” are not interchangeable (the cow did not jump more than the moon; the cow jumped over the moon).
- The word “it” is best avoided. (Try it sometime.)
- Further relates to more; farther relates to distance.
- Notwithstanding means “in spite of” (i.e., when the subject or object lacks standing).
- Dog whistles are for cowards (unless you work with canines).
- Continuous and continual mean different things.
- Disinterested and uninterested mean different things.
- Irregardless is not a word; irrespective is a word.
- Calling yourself (smart, funny, a leader, etc.) is like being a lady; if you have to say that you are, then you are not.
- Speakers imply; listeners infer.
- Avoid alliteration always.
- Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
- Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.
- Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
- Be more or less specific.
- Writers should never generalize.
- Avoid being redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
- Who needs rhetorical questions?
- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

I support (via localized translation and editorial services) English learners who must navigate the following (among other language bugaboos):

- So, sew and sow
- To, too and two
- Their, they’re and there
- Content (what you are reading) and content (how you feel reading good content)
- Screen (verb) and screen (noun)
- Counter (noun) and counter (verb)
- Cook (verb) and cook (noun)
- Light (not dark) and light (not heavy)
- Blue (color) and blue (emotion)
- Nail (noun) and nail (verb)
- Speaker (person) and speaker (Alexa)
- Wine (yes!) and whine (no!)
- Consolidate and conflate
- Armadillo and peccadillo
No, I cannot explain the irony behind the word monosyllabic. I can, however, assist you in using the word irony properly.

I also offer coaching to writers – and people who write – living and working with dyslexia. Diverse tips and tricks to help make them better communicators.

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