Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 3

Communicate for Success word cloud taken from Consistent Voice Communication's web home page and created with tagxedo.comA good command of the English language is essential to Communicate for Success. I wish for you to succeed. You wish to succeed. Here are five more tips for using the English language well in an effort to grant both our wishes.

Don’t imply the definite—Denote and connote are not synonymous. To “connote” is to imply. To “denote” is to define. Define. Denote. Remember the “d.” Incidentally, there is no connotation of denotation. But there is denote in de music.

Irregardless—“Irregardless” is a word. How do I know it’s a word? Because I see and hear it used everywhere. But it’s a word never used by the careful writer or speaker. You don’t want to sound ignorant, regardless of your educational pedigree.

Who’s that—Use “who” when referring to human beings. “The woman who came in through the bathroom window was protected by a silver spoon.” Use “that” for nonhuman animals and inanimate objects. “The lion that came in through the bathroom window scared the ordure out of me.”

Who did it to whom—Want to sound intellectual? Then use “whom” correctly. Few do, despite the ease of knowing which is which. Forget that “who” is the subject and “whom” is the object. Only English nerds find that exciting. Instead, remember this Q&A: “Who did it to whom? He did it to him.” If you can substitute or answer the question with “he,” use “who.” If you substitute or answer the question with “him,” use “whom.” Feminists may use “she” and “her.” Who and whom have no womb but nonetheless are gender-neutral. That’s my chauvinistic take, anyway.

Through and threw—“Threw” is the past tense of “throw.” “Through” means to pass from one side to another. “I threw the silver spoon through the bathroom window. It hit the lion.”

More to come. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any. Have a question about the English language? Ask it in the comments section below.


Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 1

Communicate for Success—English Tips, Vol. 2


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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