Monday, March 08, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Words and Phrases to Avoid (Part II)

Building upon last week’s selection of words and phrases to avoid, this week’s editorial tip features five more troublesome expressions.

in regards to. The Grammar Girl recently wrote in regard to this phrase. The s can simple be dropped to correct the phrase, but often a single word can better fit the sentence. Try using concerning, regarding, or about when you have the urge to pen a suitable preposition.

irregardless. Although this word appears often in dialog, it is not yet an excepted phrase. Meriam-Webster OnLine traces the etymology of the phrase to a probable “blend of irrespective and regardless.” It would benefit writers to choose one of the unmixed words.

pled. The correct past-tense and past-participial forms of the verb to plead is pleaded. The incorrect form has proliferated in the legal community, but journalists and writers should stick to the traditional spelling. But be warned: the argument over the correct form is a sensitive subject.

utilize. This word seems to be the darling of both advertising campaigns and writers hoping to sound a bit more grandiose. However, this word should often be replaced by use to convey the same meaning without the tinge of pretentiousness.

esquivalience. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines this word as “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities.” You will not find esquivalience in any other dictionary; the word was a fictitious entry used to protect copyright. Sometimes it is hard to know what to trust in the strange world of language.

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