I saw a recent piece (delivered to me as a ‘pop-up’ while using Yahoo) which presented common typos missed by spell check. The article also highlighted many words which are commonly confused or misused. I’ve edited this slightly, giving it a slant towards proposals. I’m passing this along as a reminder for words we should be double checking when editing/proofing your submissions.
Please feel free to provide any words that you see repeatedly that Spell Check failed to catch.
Affect versus Effect
There is a lot of confusion around these two words. Keep this in mind to keep the two straight: “Affect” is a verb and “effect” is a noun. It’s as simple as that.
Farther versus Further (versus Father)
While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish “farther” as physical distance and “further” as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean. And we all do know what ‘Father’ means, right? Unfortunately, spell check will allow all of these words in whatever context you choose to use them.
From and Form
Sure, you know the difference with these two words. Spell check doesn’t (this is a typical typo for me, especially when my fingers are flying over the keys just a bit to fast!)
Its versus It’s (and all other apostrophes):
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider confusing “its” and “it’s” is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” whereas “its” refers to possession.
“Your” versus “You’re” falls into the same category. Your, a pronoun, is the possessive case of ‘you’. ‘You’re’ is a contraction of “you are”.
Sales versus Sails
Can you imagine presenting with a proposal that you will help them “…increase sails by 20 percent”?! Unless the proposal happens to be to a manufacturer of sails (the kind that are used on sailboats!), this careless mistake will probably get your proposal sailing right into the recycling bin.
Supposed To, not Suppose To
“Suppose” is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. Used in the past tense, this verb is “supposed”, as in “I was supposed to make sure I didn’t use ‘suppose to’”.
Their versus There versus They’re
“Their” is possessive; “there” refers to distance; and “they’re” is a contraction of “they”.
Then versus Than
Six is more than five. If you add one to five, then you have six. “Than” refers to a comparison, while “then” refers to a subsequent event.
Threw versus Through (and thru) versus (Thorough)
“He threw the ball through the window.” “Threw” is the past tense of the verb “to throw”. “Thru’ is this word spelled incorrectly and should never be used!). “Through” is a preposition meaning ‘in at one end, side, or surface and out at the other:’ And speaking of “through,” be careful to make sure you don’t actually mean “thorough” or vice versa. Thorough is an adjective meaning ‘complete, executed without omission’. Like many of the words mentioned here, this slight variation in spelling will not be picked up by a computer, and could easily be missed by an editor or proofreader, especially if they are rushing through a document. Writing “We are through when it comes to editing/ proofreading our proposals” when you mean to write “We are thorough…” is rather ironic.
Waist vs. waste
Waist is a noun, describing the part of the body between the ribs and the hips, usually the narrowest part of a person’s body. Waste is a verb, typically used in conjunction with an object, and is defined as to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander: If you always eat everything on your plate, your waist will likely go to waste.
Wonder versus Wander
You can wander around while you wonder why “wander” and “wonder” have such different meanings, yet sound oh so similar.
Would Have, not Would of
This common mispronunciation has led to the rampant misuse of this phrase. However “would of” is never correct and will most likely make it appear as if your proposal was a written by someone lacking language skills.