Word Choice – Advice Versus Advise

Tony’s question: “I was wondering if you can explain the difference between ‘advise’ and ‘advice’ and how to use them?” BizWritingTip response: “Advice” and “advise” are among the most commonly misused words in English. “Advice” is a noun. According to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, it means “words offered as an opinion or a recommendation about future […]

Word Choice – Outside or Outside of

Hilary’s question: “The question I have is the use of ‘of’ in a phrase such as, ‘If you live outside of Canada, a visa is required.’ Is it correct to say, ‘If you live outside Canada, a visa is required’ “? BizWritingTip response: This is a style issue. British grammar purists consider “outside of” incorrect. […]

Word Choice – Number Versus the Number

John’s question: “Last week you gave two examples that appeared contradictory: ‘A small number of branch offices are closing’ and ‘The number of proposals we must write is increasing.’ I thought the word ‘number’ takes a singular verb. Why did you use ‘are’ in the first example?” BizWritingTip response: Good observation. When you use “the” […]

Word Choice – Issue Versus Problem

Gerald’s question: “Can you give a couple of examples to distinguish between the words ‘issue’ and ‘problem’? When I am asked my opinion on a bank’s service, can I reply, ‘There have not been any issues with this bank in handling our export documents.’ Or can I simply reply ‘I have never had any problems with […]

Word Choice – Pertinent Versus Relevant

Muhammed’s question: “I have a beef about the use of ‘pertinent’ versus ‘relevant.’ Please throw some light on this so I can understand and use these words properly in a pertinent way!” BizWritingTip response: According to the dictionary, relevant  means “having a bearing on the matter at hand.” Pertinent  means “relevant to the matter at hand.” Although the definitions seem similar […]

Word Choice – Follow Up Versus Follow-Up

Pamela’s question: “In the medical field, you’ll hear ‘follow up’ a lot. For example, ‘the patient was seen in follow up’ or ‘I will follow up with this patient.’ I’ve seen this spelled follow-up, followup and follow up. Which is correct? Or are they all correct?” BizWritingTip response: “Follow up” is a commonly misused, abused and misspelled word. When it […]

Word Choice – Inutility: Is it a word?

Tony’s question: “I came across a word in a report written by someone. The writer used ‘inutility’ instead of ‘lack of utility’ to describe the use of land. I have always used lack of utility. But is ‘inutility’ a word, and does it have a similar meaning as lack of utility?” BizWritingTip response: This question was intriguing. […]

Word Choice – Over Versus More Than

Diane’s Question: “I see this all the time: over 100 people attended the event. I was taught to write ‘more than 100 people attended.’ Are both acceptable?” BizWritingTip response: The answer to this question relies on tradition rather than grammar and depends on whether you are using Canadian, British, or American English. The Oxford Canadian Dictionary defines more as […]

Word Choice – Have or Got

Jason’s Question: “My question is regarding the usage of the word ‘got.’ My wife constantly corrects anyone that uses the word ‘got’ in a sentence because she believes this is bad grammar.” BizWritingTip response: Years ago, “have got” and “have gotten” were commonly used in English. About 300 years ago, the British dropped the “got” […]

Word Choice – Awhile Versus A While

Barbara’s Question: “When do you use ‘awhile’ and ‘a while?’ ” BizWritingTip response: Awhile means “for an unspecified period of time.” A while is a noun phrase “meaning a period of time.” Although the words convey a similar meaning, the structure is different. Awhile (written as one word) has the word “for” built into it. It is used as […]