Entries by Jane Watson

Grammar Tip – Verb Agreement With Per Cent

Louise’s question: “After a % sign should the verb be singular or plural? For example, is it 95% of the population live or lives less than 10 minutes away?” BizWritingTip response: First, using the % sign in a narrative sentence is considered informal wtiting, e.g., emails. And you would use it in charts and tables. Spelling out the word is […]

Grammar Tip – Pronouns With Gerunds

Marie’s question: “Is the following sentence correct? I appreciate your helping me. I have been told by a colleague that it should be ‘you’ not ‘your.’ I think I am right but I don’t know why.” BizWritingTip response: Yes, you are definitely right. This grammar rule involves gerunds, a term many people are unfamiliar with. A […]

Grammar Tip – Its Versus Their

Susan’s question: “Please tell me the difference between its and their. For example, would I write ‘ABC Enterprises offered all its employees a bonus’ or ‘ABC Enterprises offered all their employees a bonus?” BizWritingTip response: As ABC Enterprises is considered a singular noun, you would have to use the personal pronoun “its.” Example ABC Enterprises […]

Word Choice – Although Versus Though

Irfan’s question: “Please help me understand the use of ‘though’ and ‘although’ and when to add a comma with these words. Here are two examples: 2) Although(,) I have finished your assignment, it was not difficult. 2) I have finished your assignment. It was not difficult though.” BizWritingTip response:  “Although” and “though” when used as conjunctions are […]

Word Choice – Spacecraft Versus Spacecrafts

Deane’s question: “I wonder if it’s acceptable to write spacecrafts (or aircrafts) instead of using the singular. I thought ‘craft’ was similar to the use of sheep – one word functions for both singular and plural.” BizWritingTip response: Again, another example of our words changing. Most dictionaries, e.g., Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and Cambridge Dictionaries Online, agree with you. “Craft” refers […]

Grammar Tip – Hyphens With Prefixes

Sandra’s question: “In words beginning with the prefix ‘pre,’ I am having difficulty determining when to hyphenate and when to state them as one word (or two words if that’s an option), for instance, words such as ‘pre content.’ ” BizWritingTip response: A prefix is a short word (e.g., anti-, ex-, post-, pre-) placed before another word […]

Word Choice – Further Versus Farther

Sharon’s question: “I am always confused over the use of ‘farther’ vs. ‘further.’ Which would be correct in the following sentence? If these dates do not work, we can look further (or farther?) into the year.” BizWritingTip response: This question is quite interesting. My initial response was to recommend the use of “further.” Further is used for an […]

Closing Lines in Business Documents

Heather’s question: “In one of your biztips, you closed with ‘Trust this helps.’ Should it not be ‘I trust this helps’?” BizWritingTip response: You are right in your thinking. “Trust this helps” is not a complete sentence. However, in business writing, it is common practice to be a little less strict with our closing lines in […]

Quotation Marks: Are you up to date?

Do you have trouble remembering whether to place the period inside or outside the quotation mark? If so, relax. The North American rules surrounding quotation marks are now quite simple. All periods and commas go inside the quotation marks; colons and semicolons are placed outside. Incorrect Time magazine says it’s “the best ice cream in […]

Who Versus That

Theresa’s question: “I wonder if it is acceptable to use the word ‘that’ when referring to people. Usually this happens when referring to a collective noun. An example I find very jarring is the official apology about residential schools given by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.   He states, ‘It has taken extraordinary courage for the […]