Friday, February 20, 2009

Spell Checking

Ode to a Spell Checker

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marks four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word and weight for it to say
Weather eye yam wrong oar write.
It shows me strait a weigh as soon as a mist ache is maid.
It nose bee fore two long and eye can put the error rite.
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased to no.
Its letter perfect awl the way.
My checker told me sew.
Author unknown

Spell checking software is helpful, and clearly has its limits. If you are of the age to perform mystery shopping and are not a proficient speller, I can recommend a couple solutions.

First, get educated. If that means taking online lessons, do it! There are many resources online, free and confidential.

Second, take advantage of the power of the synonym. If you are writing a narrative and run across a word you just aren't sure how to spell, think of another word to use!

Finally, get a good dictionary and keep it by your computer. It will help you determine the correct usage for effect/affect, lay/lie, who/whom and many more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sentences and Comma Splices

This is a sentence. It starts with a capital letter and ends with a period. It contains a subject and a verb. "Is this a sentence?" Yes, it is. "This?" No, it has no verb. "Well, who are you to tell me what a sentence is, I've been writing sentences my whole life!" Aha! Comma splice!

A comma splice is where you take two sentences and join them with a comma. Each sentence should convey one idea. When you jump to the next idea, start a new sentence. So...

"Well, who are you to tell me what a sentence is? I've been writing sentences my whole life!"

Friday, February 6, 2009

Report Writing: Lesson One

Get ready for a thoroughly boring series! Yes, that's right folks, it's grammar time! I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence, but if the advertising of 2009 is any indication, there is a serious Grammar Gap. Mystery shopping companies tend to hire editors with good language skills, so if you want good grades on your assignments, perhaps a quick brush-up is in order. Let's start with my favorite.

The apostrophe: Probably the most misused character these days, the apostrophe is used in two cases: to take the place of a missing letter as in "don't" for do not; and to show ownership as in "Becky's shoe"—the shoe belonging to Becky. Let us examine possession first.

WRONG: Piano's Repaired Here, Orange's 4 for $1, —There's no ownership or letters missing, this is a simple case of more than one thing, and should have no apostrophe.

In the case of a word ending in "s", very often you will see the apostrophe after the "s" to form a plural. So if you have more than one pencil, and they all have points, you would say pencils' points.

WRONG: Pencils's points. Pencilss points. Pencilses points.

Its or it's? In the case of posession, use "its." An easy way to remember this rule is to compare the object to "his." If the lamp were a guy, you would say "his shade," not "hi's shade," right? So using "it" would become "its shade" not "it's shade."

Okay, that's enough for today. Go forth and look for examples and you'll be amazed at how many are confused by such a small mark!