Engineers look at the world differently from non-engineers. They are usually extremely logical, pragmatic, and direct, while the rest of us can be somewhat more whimsical, emotional and aspirational. Unfortunately, when working together, these different perspectives present unique communication challenges that can slow work, deliver sub-optimal results, and weaken company culture if not addressed.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Whether you use the spelling theatre or theater will depend on where you hail from. In American English, the spelling is theater; in Britain and the rest of the English-speaking world, theatre is used. The spelling you choose—theater vs. theatre—should align with your audience’s preference.
Why Are There Different Spellings: “Theatre” vs. “Theater”?
Theater has roots in both Greek and Latin and came to English through the Old French word theatre.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
National Anthem History
On the morning of September 14, 1814, the sun rose to reveal a surprising sight to Francis Scott Key.
Just a month after the British had burned the White House during the height of the War of 1812, Key was aboard a British vessel negotiating the release of a friend who was being held prisoner. During Key’s time aboard the vessel, the British commenced an attack on Fort McHenry and the pair was not allowed to leave.
Friday, October 23, 2015
In theory, writing is not hard labor. It’s less backbreaking than laying bricks all day, for instance. And compared to the average herpetologist, most writers’ workplaces involve far fewer smelly rooms full of snakes. For that, we should be grateful.
Still, writing is hard work. And that’s just as true for vaunted authors with numerous books, awards, and honorary degrees to their credit as it is for newcomers who only recently resolved to hammer out more words each week.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Stats. They are everywhere. They are in your sports, your weather forecast, and now they are being used by Grammarly, too. Unlike that statistics class you took that one time, Grammarly Insights are designed to provide you with useful information about how you write.
Some of you may have noticed that we started sending you a weekly progress report via email each Monday. Many Grammarly users spend more time writing online than they may realize.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.
“I’m such a perfectionist!”
People sometimes utter that phrase with pride, wearing the title as a badge of honor, but I’ve never understood why anyone would think perfectionism is something to be pleased about. I’ve cried myself to sleep over a mistake, and I remember my embarrassing gaffes for years after everyone else involved has forgotten them.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Meta is a word which, like so many other things, we have the ancient Greeks to thank for. When they used it, meta meant “beyond,” “after,” or “behind.” The “beyond” sense of meta still lingers in words like metaphysics or meta-economy. But that’s still not the meta most of us come across today.
One of the more popular uses of meta today is for the meaning best described by the formula “meta-X equals X about X.” So, if we take the word “data” for our X, and add the prefix meta- to it, we get metadata, or “data about data.” A meta-text is a text about texts, metacognition is thinking about thinking, and a meta-joke is a joke about jokes.
Friday, October 16, 2015
- Adviser is a person who gives advice.
- An advisor does the same thing—the only difference is in the spelling.
- Adviser is the older and the preferred spelling.
Advisor vs. adviser is probably not the most important or the most annoying conundrum related to the verb advise. That honor goes to advise vs. advice because mixing them up is a more damaging mistake. But still, people wonder about advisor and adviser because we don’t have two different spellings for every word in the English language—it’s not common.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
No job candidate is perfect. Everyone has their flaws. Fortunately, employers aren’t looking for perfect people, just the right people.
Honesty is always the best policy during a job interview, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your weaknesses on display. Whether it’s your resume or your personal challenges that might raise red flags with a hiring manager, addressing your weaknesses and framing them in a positive way can help you avoid making excuses or sounding defensive.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
“Get it in writing!” That’s a phrase we hear often. In things like bills of sale, freelance contracts, or employee compensation packages—if you and other parties are making an agreement, there’s value in using written language to document it.
We often relate the phrase “Get it in writing” to fancy legal contracts drafted by lawyers, whose time is expensive. But getting something in writing doesn’t have to entail a contract.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Yesterday, Selection Sunday marked the start of the frenetic sports season many like to call March Madness. Today, we’re launching a bracket like the one you may have filled out yesterday, but our March MADness tournament contains only the most infuriating, enraging work communication pet peeves. These annoying office habits keep you from understanding—or, sometimes, liking—your coworkers, and we’re trying to find the worst habit you can form at work.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
- To assure someone is to remove someone’s doubts.
- To ensure something is to make sure it happens—to guarantee it.
- To insure something or someone is to cover it with an insurance policy.
Some sources note that people use assure, ensure, and insure interchangeably. All three verbs have something to do with “making sure” and are therefore similar, but each of them has a distinct meaning that makes it better suited for some uses than the other two.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Graduation. Ten letters that spell either “opportunity,” or “pure, unadulterated terror,” depending on your plans for after you walk across the stage and officially become a college grad. If you have your post-grad life figured out, congratulations! You’re ahead of the game. Kick back, read a book, and wait for real life to hit you.
But if you have no idea what you’re going to do, or are hustling to land that first gig, don’t worry.
Monday, October 5, 2015
- Imply means to suggest or to say something in an indirect way.
- Infer means to suppose or come to a conclusion, especially based on an indirect suggestion.
Implying and inferring are both common elements of communication. One means to state something, and the other to conclude something. But it’s surprisingly easy to confuse these two verbs.
What Does Imply Mean?
When we imply something, we’re hinting at what we mean but not saying it directly:
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Homophones sound the same but are spelled differently. People often confuse homophone pairs, and bare and bear are no exception. Which phrase is correct—bear with me or bare with me?
The Difference between Bear and Bare
Besides being the name of a big furry animal, bear functions as a verb. It means to tolerate, to carry something, or to endure.