Word Choice – On-site Versus Onsite

Pamela’s question: “I often see ‘onsite’ used as one word. Shouldn’t ‘on site’ be two words with the hyphen inserted if you are using the word as an adjective, such as on-site meeting? Is ‘onsite’ ever one word?” BizWritingTip response: There is a tendency now to drop hyphens from words. But according to the Merriam Webster and […]

Word Choice – If Versus Whether

Pam’s question: “Please do a future issue on ‘if’ versus ‘whether.’  When asked to review documents, I often see my associates using ‘if’’ incorrectly. I would like to be able to give them a simple explanation.” BizWritingTip response: There are several rules regarding “if” and “whether.” I have tried to simplify them as much as possible. The […]

Word Choice – Safety Versus Security

Paulo’s question: “In the sense of protection from danger, are the words ‘security’ and ‘safety’ interchangeable?” BizWritingTip response: People often confuse these words. Although the thought process is close, the words are not interchangeable. Safe comes from the Latin word salvus meaning “uninjured, healthy.” Secure comes from Latin securus, “free from care.” “Security” refers to […]

Word Choice – Assistance In Versus Assistance With

Christina’s question: “Which sentence is correct — Thank you for your assistance in this matter or Thank you for your assistance on this matter?” BizWritingTip response: Unfortunately, neither sentence is correct. “Assistance on” is incorrect. The prepositions following assistance are “in,” “with,” or “to.”Although many writers interchange them, “assistance with” is used to indicate helping someone with someone or something. “Assistance in” indicates […]

Word Choice – Beat Versus Beaten

Paulo’s question: “A famous supermarket announces that ‘We won’t be beat’ when referring to their unbeatable prices. Why beat and not beaten?” BizWritingTip response: Beat is more commonly used in conversational English. However, a grammatical purist would say the phrase “can’t be …” must be followed by the past participle beaten. Therefore, the supermarket should say its prices “can’t be beaten.” But as […]

Word Choice – Recur Versus Reoccur

Paul’s question: “What is the difference between ‘recur’ and ‘reoccur’?” BizWritingTip response: If you say something recurs you are saying the event happens repeatedly – at regular intervals. Example We see a recurrence of flu symptoms in our patients beginning in December. (Flu happens every year.) How should we handle the recurring problem of all staff wanting to take their vacations during […]

Word Choice – Between Versus Among

Joanna’s question: “When do you use ‘among’ and when do you use ‘between’?” BizWritingTip response: The basic rule is to use between when referring to two persons or things andamong when you are referring to more than two. Examples I divided the workload between Gerry and Susan. I divided the workload between the two new staff members. I divided the workload among Gerry, Susan, and […]

Word Choice – Plead Versus Pled

Kelly’s question: “Can you please comment on ‘plead’ versus ‘pled’?” BizWritingTip response: According to the Oxford dictionary, to plead is to “make an earnest appeal; to maintain (a cause) esp. in a law court.” Example She will plead not guilty of the charges. The past tense of plead is either pled or pleaded. Pled is American English and pleaded is British English. Examples She pleaded guilty of the charges […]

Word Choice – Per Cent Versus Percentage

Terry’s question: “I am wondering about the use of per cent and percentage. For instance, should it be ‘Early Development Instrument: Percent Vulnerable by Domain’ or should it be ‘Percentage Vulnerable by Domain’?” BizWritingTip response: According to the AMA Manual of Style, deciding on whether to use per cent or percentage is simple. “The term […]

Word Choice – As Versus Because

Phil’s question: “I often find sentences written like this ‘project delivery will not proceed as there has been no approval to date.’ It bothers me because I would expect to read ‘project delivery will not proceed because there has been no approval to date.’ Which form is more acceptable or correct.” BizWritingTip response: As, since, and because are used to […]