“More mature”* business people can tend to take proper spelling for granted.
Younger business people think spell check will save them from the bear traps of word confusion!
But what about word confusion between similar words? Like BARE and BEAR?
Did you know BARE and BEAR have so many meanings – and in the business world (especially in finance, law and insurance) – many people use the wrong BARE!
Please bear in mind that many people from younger generations were taught the bare minimum of English grammar and spelling (they had so many other things to learn!)
For bosses – the bad spelling and word confusion can be more than they can bear.
A boss can get annoyed – “like a bear with a sore head”!
More mature* generations had spelling drummed into them at school.
(*”More mature” is a more polite way of saying “older” – the younger boomers and Gen X-ers).
I know I had spelling drummed into me and I vividly remember the memory devices my wonderful teachers used!
Now, I help lots of super-smart “younger” workers who are so good at most parts of their jobs – yet they struggle with word confusion and often get sound-a-like words mixed up.
Also, many people from ESL backgrounds (English as a Second Language) get similar words mixed up.
Take for example an insurance organisation’s writing:
“The insured BARES the onus of proofing… “
I’m often brought in to help staff
1. be aware of the word confusion mistakes
2. remember how to choose the right words – including knowing whether to use BARE or BEAR.
I understand how people can get the words mixed up – especially since a BEAR sang the famous song “The BARE Necessities” In Disney’s The Jungle Book.
My “theory” is so many kids grow up watching that movie. I know I did, my brother’s kids did, and my kids did too. No wonder people associate BARE necessities with a BEAR!
SIMPLE MEMORY DEVICES
I use simple memory techniques to help people remember which word (BARE or BEAR) to use in different circumstances.
The bAre necessities or the bAre minimum – when you have only the bAsics
Where something is uncovered or nAked – once again it’s bAre.
I get people to think of the bAre with an A by remembering the
Canadian group: bAre nAked lAdies.
They write the name this way:
Even if the younger business people I help are too young to be aware of bAre nAked lAdies – they have probably heard of the current and famous theme song they perform =
big bAng theory.
Then there’s barefoot – no covering of the feet – or bAre nAked Feet.
As in the Barefoot Investor
Then there’s also: to bArely make it or I bArely finished or I bArely recognised you
Just more than Adequate – just mAde it
2. BEAR – there are many BEAR words
bEar – can refer to the bear the crEature that lives in a forEst and can Eat you. (I have to find words with prominent Es rather than As!)
bear can also mean to to carry a burdEn or wEight or to suffEr or Endure something.
Bear is often used in business for expressions such as:
bear the responsibility
or bear the onus
or bear in mind
I explain in most office-based business situations (except BARE as in bAsic) you will use BEAR.
With the expression: bear in mind – it means kEEp in mind or rEmEmbEr.
When it means to suffEr or Endure something (often painful) I use the memory sentence:”
I can’t bEAR this EAR ache!
There are also the bear words related to dirEction:
get your BEARINGS/Lose your bearings
Bearings can also be mEtal balls
With so many BEARs and BAREs – you can see how confusing English can be so confusing?
My good friend Melissa Karydas created a visual learning system called Looking Learning to help teach her daughter how to remember confusing words like bear and bare.
I’m suggesting to Melissa that we team up and combine our experience and create a similar visual learning device for executive and business English – because learners (OF ALL ages) remember better with VISUALS. Sometimes you use the visuals in combination with audio and physical (touching/hands-on) learning.
My son learns best “through his hands” and visuals. He doesn’t remember if something is taught with “just words in the air”.
I get him physically make the words out of Scrabble tiles and then remember the image of the word he created! And it works!
It’s great how my corporate work helps with my kids’ homework – and vice versa!
So back to Business English!
In the example:
“The insured BARES the onus of or proofing… “
it should be the word BEARS.
I’m aware these memory devices may sound childish and simplistic – but please BEAR in mind that very clever clever business people find the devices easy to recall.
If your organisation would like help in making sure your people choose and use the right words – please feel free to contact me.
I can analyse samples of your writing to find the problem words OR you can tell me the common problem words and I can come up with visual ways to help your people remember.
I’m used to working in complex high-level professions (law, finance, insurance, engineering) – and simple memory devices help people remember how to choose the right words and avoid embarrassing mistakes.
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