“Oh! That’s so addicting.” Actually, annoying is the word that comes to mind when I see or hear addicting. Addictive. Addictive is a word. Addicting is not a word, and it’s a teeny-bopper mistake that I am seeing more frequently from writers who should know better.
Progressive Insurance commercial: “We’re the only ones that do.” Ahh! Only ones who do. Who, not that. The word ones refers to living, breathing entities, which should be the first clue to the writer of that particular ad that s/he’s made a mistake.
24: “…safety deposit box…” Where’s my pencil? I need to poke out my eye. Safe deposit box. A safe deposit box is a box inside a safe, which is how those particular types of boxes got their names. (I was a credit union executive before I was a full-time writer. I think you can take my word on this one).
CNN: “Impact Your World.” You’re kidding, right? The moment that show was advertised, I emailed CNN. Let’s just think a moment about what ‘impact your world‘ means. Imagine a world. Now imagine a huge hand smacking the world. The smack is the impact. The hand had an impact on the world. Impact needs to be followed by ‘on’ or ‘of’ or some other appropriate article to make sense.
When I see impact these days, I see it incorrectly used in place of effect or affect. This tells me I’m working with either a lazy writer or a writer who want h/her work to sound important. Impact is one of those words that is crisp to the ear. Short. Punchy. This is why it is so often used in advertising and sales. It’s one of those words that should tell listeners (or readers) that they’re being sold something. Someone wants to convince them of something. Impact has gone the way of jargon, and should be avoided at (nearly) all costs, save when speaking about teeth.
History Channel: “The answer lies…” Oh, god, please, not the History Channel. I love the History Channel, and the more I watch it, the more I hear this mistake. “The answer lay…” People lie. Things lay. That’s your shortcut for today. My colleague, Mignon Fogarty can give you some more examples, but for now, just remember: if it breathes, it lies.
Pick your ad: Quality. Since when does the word quality not have to be quantified? When you write, “That’s quality work,” what do you mean? What kind of quality? Good? Bad? Mediocre?
Badly. I leave you with badly. When this word started to replace bad, I don’t know; but it has to stop. When you write “I want it badly,” what you are telling the reader is that you don’t know how to want very well. The sentence should read, “I want it so much,” or “I want it a whole lot.” If you can want something badly, you should also be able to want something goodly, and we all know that’s just not an option.
Do you have any pet peeve words or phrases? Share them here. If you have a question for me on the editing process or just want to know how you can better please your editor, ask me. I may be crabby, but I am here to help.
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