Today’s post is about bad words. Yes, there are bad words and no, they aren’t always of the “four-letter” variety. These are words that you shouldn’t ever, ever use in professional writing.
Might as well start here, since it’s um, first, right? Words that have “ly” added onto them are adverbs, which is to say that they refer to a verb, or an action. Like “quietly”, as in “he walked quietly across the room.” So, if you start a paragraph, such as a how-to article, with “firstly” – what does this mean? To which verb are you referring? That’s right, no verb at all.
So use “first”. Please. Firstly makes you sound, I don’t know, thirsty? Desperate? Uneducated?
“Lastly” comes under this same heading. Avoid it.
Loose and lose. Oh wait, we covered this already. Still a pet peeve.
Moot and mute. Mute means “silent”, moot means “obsolete” or “it doesn’t matter”. A moot point, therefore, means in modern-speak “yeah, right” or “whatever”. A mute point is, I suppose, a silent point? Ergo, don’t use “mute” in this manner.
Egads. Daunting. One of the most over-used words in English. Everything, folks, cannot be “daunting” or we’d all be frozen in fear every minute of the day.
By definition, daunting means “overwhelming or intimidating”. Like maybe attempting to run a marathon with no training at all…well, that might fall under “stupid”. Okay, let’s say you HAD to climb a 40-foot tree to rescue a kitten or something, and you were the only one who could do this. That would be daunting. Having to clean your kitchen, or discipline a child? Really? You might want to get out of the business of child-raising, or forget having a clean kitchen.
Clothes and cloths
You wear clothes, you clean that “daunting” kitchen with cloths. Not rocket science, just use an “e” when the word calls for it.
Breathe and breath
Same thing. Use the “e”. You breathe whenever you take a breath. Simple.
Basically, I’m saying to think before you write. Or at least proofread before you show your work to anyone – and yes, I’m talking about status updates and Tweets too!
Tune in next week for a refresher/rant about punctuation….