The Word’s the Thing Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hi everyone:

So, just how important is it that you use the right word? For someone like me, very important. For students, they are also very important.

Here’s a sampling from this week:

A student finished off her letter, writing the following:

Respectively,

Sally Student

Huh? She meant “Respectfully” but didn’t quite make it. The word she meant is defined as “with deference and respect.”

“Respectively” means “separately or individually” and “refers back to something that has gone before,” such as “We will go to the store and then to the movies, in that order, respectively.” Oops. (And the girl is a senior in college.)

Something else that is gaining in popularity is the use of “verses” for “versus.” Again, there is a big difference. The word “verses” can refer to sentences in the Bible, such as “There are a lot of verses in the Scripture that I want to memorize.”

The word “versus” means “against.” For example, the Tennessee Titans will play a game versus the Liberty Flames. So, if a student writes about a team playing verses another one, it must mean that they are having a Bible quiz time because it certainly doesn’t mean that they are opposing the other team.

Another troublesome set of words is “effect” and “affect.” The word “effect” means “result,”while “affect” means “to influence.” So something can have an affect on you (it influences your decision, for example) but the final effect (result) may be to change your mind. Make sense?

What words do you struggle with?

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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