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Business Bloopers # 1 to avoid like the plague

Business Bloopers #1 to avoid like the plague

Have you ever received a business letter, proposal or email that looks as if it was written by a seven year old? Spelling errors like the one in this sign are inexcusable with spellcheckers readily available.

But, what about words that sound similar but have totally different meanings? For example: ‘I’d like to except your offer’ , or ‘I have 10kgs of access baggage’. Oops!

These tricky words are called ‘homonyms’. You may be a brilliant CEO, manager, vet or builder, but if you write bloopers like the examples we used above you’ll leave a poor impression on your clients.

Spell checkers and grammar checkers don’t recognise incorrect use of words such as the ones listed here. That’s why we’ve developed a ‘cheat sheet’ of the most common words that are used incorrectly. Print it out and keep it near your computer for easy reference when you write your next email. We’ll add to this list as weeks go by, so stay tuned.

 Word  Definition Correct Incorrect
Accept A verb meaning ‘to take or receive’ I accept responsibility for sales. I except responsibility for sales.
Except Usually a preposition meaning ‘excluding’ I did all the jobs except the filing. I did all the jobs accept the filing.
Tip: If you want to exclude someone or something, use except. Otherwise, use accept.
Access A noun meaning ‘the right to enter or use’ I have access to the files. I have excess to the files.
Excess An adjective meaning ‘more than enough’ I have excess baggage. (Correct, but expensive.) I have access baggage.
Tip: If the meaning of the word is ‘too much’, use excess. Otherwise, use access.
Affect Usually a verb meaning ‘to influence’ I have affected sales through training staff. I have effected sales through training staff.
Effect Usually a noun meaning ‘result’ or a verb meaning ‘to bring about’ The effect of the training was an increase in sales The affect of the training was an increase in sales
Tip: Think of these two sentences. The cocktail affected (changed) my driving ability. (So true!) The effect (result) of drink-driving was suspension of my licence.

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