The vial errors in modern newspaper writing

This post was inspired by a media friend who spotted an error in a mainstream newspaper – an article  about students buying “viles of drugs from overseas” – confusing the words vial and vile.

vial

I argue that many people who still read newspapersdead-tree papers  or online versions  – know and care about reporters using the correct words.

I understand that smart, young reporters are skilled in so many ways that previous generations of journalists were not.

Yet many young writers do not know the difference between similar words – vial/vile, peer/pier, piece/peace and even weather/whether.

To be fair – I don’t know the age of the person who made the VILE/VIAL error. It could have been an older writer!

I just know that I often need to help younger reporters remember the correct words to use. They were not taught what previous reporters were taught as “the basics”.

I still argue that – for business and credibility reasons – it’s worth educating writers (younger and older) in how to choose the correct words from confusing sound-alike or look-alike words.

vial

A friend of mine developed a visual learning resource to help her daughter who had a learning challenge.

She used the “memorable grossness” of stepping in Elephant poo to convey the meaning of VILE.

vile

So remember – the Elephant poo version is with VILE with the E!

I remember “the other vial”  – by remembering it as a  smAll, nArrow contAiner.

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TB training group

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How to choose the right word – course/coarse

Is it hard to choose the right word? – of coarse!

Especially with similar sounding and similar looking words such as course and coarse!

You can even add CAUSE confusion for non-native English speakers. People from non-English speaking backgrounds often have trouble hearing the difference between words such as course and cause. Native English speakers often  take hearing the differences in sounds for granted.

This post is about how to use the correct course/coarse words.

first course

Even native English speakers who are well educated can make word mistakes that can make them look not-so-smart – even coarse and unrefined.

Imagine you are a professional and you use the wrong word. Will some of your readers judge you unkindly?

Those who know the correct words may doubt the accuracy of the rest of your work if you choose the wrong word.

Here’s an easy way to remember how to choose the correct word in the course/coarse confusion.

golf course

Most times you will use COURSE – a golf course, a photography course, in the course of events, first course (on a menu)

The “other” similar word COARSE is for when something is rough – for example COARSE FABRIC, COARSE GRASS, or even COARSE language.

I had great “teachers”  through my school and work as a journalist who helped me (and my classmates) remember what word to use. I often share their memory devices.

Just think that coARSE language might use include the word ARSE. And ARSE rhymes with GRASS!

MBE course sign

TBCUInternational.001

If a love of language is coursing through your veins and you’d like more tips on how to choose the right words – you can follow this blog, of course! Or you can get me in for a quick, tailored course on how to help you remember the confusing word challenges in your business.

You’d be amazed how many big businesses let mistakes slip through on their websites and in their marketing collateral.

weather/whether

bare/bear

complimentary/complementary

Don’t let it happen to your business!

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word nerd CU

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

Twitter 

 

tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti