Eclectic Blog

Who is better? Me or I? Why, I am!

Many of our grammar errors are due to the errors we make when we use a structure in speech.  However, if we want to write correctly, we need to not only identify those errors, but to also understand why they are incorrect and how to fix them.

In your opinion, which sentence is correct?

He is a better manager than me.

He is a better manager than I.

I’ll bet that many of you chose the first sentence. Actually, the first sentence contains the error. However, because the second one sounds weird – we rarely hear someone say better than I – we presume it’s wrong and so opt for the first.

Now I’ll present the same two sentences, but this time, I’ll write them in full:

He is a better manager than me am.

He is a better manager than I am.

It’s easier now to see why the first one is incorrect and the second one is correct. So, the editing hint is to complete the sentence with the word than.

Here are a few more samples:

The director from the downtown office is more fair than he. (= than he is.)

I’m more efficient with numbers than she. (=than she is.)

They are more experienced at report writing than we. (=than we are.)

Even if you now understand why such examples are right, but still think they don’t sound correct, use this trick. Always write the sentences in full as an editing trick.

Why Pencil Editing is Important

To ensure correctness in your writing, pencil editing is one of the best things you can do. Pencil editing is a proofreading technique. To do it, touch and speak each word when you edit your documents.

Here's a great example of why pencil editing is so important: 

It dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Were you able to read this paragraph? Did it matter that most of the words in this paragraph were misspelled?

If you don’t touch and speak each word when you pencil edit, you might miss spelling mistakes like these because your mind might think one thing and your eyes might see something else!

PS – Check out this interesting link that explains this theory in more detail.


Plain language doesn’t mean dumbing down

Many people believe that plain language equals simplifying the language to a very low level. This is untrue. Plain language means using language and formatting that allows the reader to get the message after one read because the document is clear, concise, and specific.

To achieve a plain language document, use the following strategies:

•   Avoid bulk phrases and long openings.

Choose: Thank you for your proposal.
Avoid: I am writing this letter to acknowledge receipt of your proposal.

•   Control your sentence length to avoid rambling and run-on sentences. The guideline for sentence   length is two lines maximum.

•   Keep paragraphs from getting long and scary. A big block of black text is a definite turn off for the reader. An effective paragraph is shorter than seven lines.

•   Choose short, familiar words instead of bureaucratic jargon.

Stay away from words like strategize, implementation, and viable. Use instead more accessible options like plan, start, and possible.

•   Use bullets and headings to create more white space and an attractive format.

Make your headings informative. Create them using a focus and a detail or action item. For bullets, try to keep your list at six items. If the list is longer than six items, write more than one list. The longer the list, the less chance the reader will get to the end of it.

•   Write in the active voice as much as possible.

Passive voice: The proposal will be edited by Jana
Active voice: Jana will edit the proposal.

Use these strategies along with proper grammar and correct spelling. Always give yourself time to edit your documents for plain language, grammar, spelling, and format. You will then write documents that your readers will want to read in a style that is professional and polished.

Why wine can’t compliment a meal!

Why not you ask? Because if your wine compliments the meal, it means that your wine is praising your meal!

Be aware of the spelling of these two words: complement and compliment. The meanings of these two words are very different.

Compliment – spelled with an i – means to praise.
Complement – spelled with an e – means to complete.

Check out the samples below:

Her boss complimented her work. = Her boss praised her work.
(Notice how compliment and praise are interchangeable.)

The new furniture complemented the office renovation. = The new furniture completed the office renovation.
(Notice how complement and complete are interchangeable.)

Here’s a trick:
• the word praise and compliment both have an i
• the word complete and complement both begin with comple-

So, next time you praise a colleague, make sure to use compliment, and next time you write that the wine completed the meal, be sure to use complement.

Go ahead and start a sentence with the word “because”!

Hands up everyone who was taught that you can’t start a sentence with the word because.  Ah, thought so – many of you were taught that “rule”.

The most used and respected style guides support the use of because at the beginning of a sentence.

Let’s look at this idea in a more familiar way first. It’s quite usual for writers to use because in the middle of a sentence – for example:

I attended the meeting because it was mandatory.

Notice that this sentence is composed of two parts – one part is the independent clause (I attended the meeting), and the other part is the dependant clause (because it was mandatory).

Now take the same sentence and flip the two clauses around so that you have the dependant clause starting the sentence.

Because it was mandatory, I attended the meeting.

That’s it! The meaning is the same - the only difference is that you changed the order of the two clauses. Please note, however, that there is now the need for a comma between the two clauses.

Here are two more examples:

The company is successful because it has a dedicated staff.

Because it has a dedicated staff, the company is successful.

James got the job because he is the most qualified.

Because he is the most qualified, James got the job.

Whether you begin a sentence with because or not depends on your personal writing style and which element you want the reader to focus on first.

Because you can, try using the word because at the beginning of a sentence. It can be quite liberating!


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