Addendum to February Bulletin:

Our choice of words – not just semantics

Badly written paragraph:

XYZ Energy announces today that its lead investigator has determined that the Company has less exploration wells set for drilling than previously indicated. The Company is currently involved in Phase I of the exploration program, located in the Deep Basin. The new metallurgical evidence implies that 4 of the 10 wells in the defined area cannot be drilled at this time. The Company is not offering further guidance on how the exploration schedule will be impacted and how this data will effect future projections. Most importantly, the Company will continue with the exploration strategy, on schedule and as previously planned.

Correctly written paragraph:

XYZ Energy announces today that its lead geologist has determined that the Company has less fewer exploration wells set for drilling than previously indicated. The Company is currently involved in Phase I of the exploration program, located in the Deep Basin. The new metallurgical evidence implies infers that 4 of the 10 wells in the defined area cannot be drilled at this time. The Company is not offering further guidance on how exploration will be impacted the impact this will have on the exploration schedule and how this data will effect affect future projections. Most importantly, the Company will continue with the exploration strategy, on schedule and as previously planned.

Explanation

  • “Less” refers to a quantity or to an amount, not to something that can be counted whereas “fewer” refers to numbers – something you can count.
  • “To imply” is to express indirectly, and “ to infer” is to conclude from evidence or circumstances. In this case, there is evidence from which to make an assessment and therefore the correct term is to infer.
  • “Impacted” is incorrect. Despite frequent use, this is absolutely 100% incorrect. You can have an impact on something, but a thing cannot be impacted.
  • “To effect” when it is a verb, is “to bring about”. “To affect” is to influence. They are not the same thing. When in doubt, replace “effect” with “to bring about” and see if your sentence makes sense, if it doesn’t you need “affect”.
  • “Most importantly” is incorrect, the correct term is “most important”.

Commonly misused words:

Adverse: unfavorable

Averse: disinclined

Affect: to influence

Effect: to bring about (when used as a verb)

Allusion: indirect reference

Illusion: something unreal

Can: able to

May: allowed to

Compose: to make up

Comprise: to include

Denote: to mean

Connote: to suggest in addition to the given or simple meaning

Discreet: prudent or careful

Discrete: separate and apart

Disinterested: impartial

Uninterested: without any interest

Elicit: to draw out

Illicit: illegal

Farther: longer distance

Further: more

Imminent: soon to occur

Eminent: important or critical

Imply: to suggest without stating

Infer: to judge or deduce from the evidence

Include: to be part of a whole

Comprise: the parts of a whole

Lend: allow someone to borrow (verb)

Loan: an amount lent (noun)

Literal: real meaning

Figurative: Implied meaning

Loathe: to hate

Loath: reluctant

Prophesy: a prediction

Prophesy: to predict

  • Impactful:  replace with “has impact”.
    • Wrong: The statistics were impactful on the audience
    • Right: The statistics made an impact on the audience
  • Orientate:  replace with “to orient”
    • Wrong: He orientated me to the right meeting place
    • Right: He oriented me to the right meeting place
  • Leverage (the noun) in finance: to gain advantage, power or effectiveness over something or, to use credit or debt – you must indicate over what you are using the leverage.
    • Wrong: The business has leverage in its operations.
    • Right: The company has leverage with its suppliers
  • Leverage (the verb) in finance:  to provide with debt for financing or to use for gain. You must indicate how you are using the leverage
    • Wrong: The company has leveraged its margins this quarter (incomplete thought)
    • Right: The company leveraged its relationship with suppliers in order to improve operating income margins this quarter
  • Strategic vs tactical:
    • Strategic: A careful plan initiated to accomplish a goal
    • Tactical: Small scale actions to fulfill an immediate aim, with a limited purpose