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It happens to all of us. We’re busily writing a letter or email and suddenly we doubt if a word we just typed is the right one for the situation. Personally, I always have a hard time keeping “it’s” and “its” straight. Maybe you struggle with “your” and “you’re” or “advice” and “advise.”

In fact, there are a number of words that commonly confuse lots of people. To help you out, here’s a guide to some of the ones that I see most frequently in the editing work that I do.



COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS


Advice & Advise

Advice is a noun that means guidance or counsel.
Advise is a verb that means to counsel or give advice to.

My advice to you is that you advise your staff to answer the telephone promptly.

Complement & Compliment

Complement (as a noun) means something that completes; complement (as a verb) means to complete.
Compliment (as a noun) means praise or a favorable remark; compliment (as a verb) means to praise.

“I would like to compliment the chef,” said Ralph, “because the flavors of this dish complement each other so perfectly.”

Insure, Ensure & Assure

While all 3 of these words relate to guaranteeing that something is true or will happen, there are subtle differences in their usages:

Assure means to say, write or confirm the guarantee.
Ensure means to do something to make certain that something happens.
Insure means to guarantee something with insurance or other financial instruments.

“Let me assure you there’s no need to worry,” he said. “While your firewall will ensure that hackers don’t get into your system, this new policy will insure you against loss if your system goes down.”

Its & It’s

Its means of or belonging to it.
It’s is the contraction of “it is.”

It’s just amazing that the dog can sense when its owner is coming home.

Their & They’re

Their means of or relating to them.
They’re is the contraction of “they are.”

They’re flying to Chicago to visit their cousins.

Whose & Who’s

Whose means of or relating to whom.
Who’s is the contraction of “who is” or “who has.”

Whose turn is it to pick up the guest who’s arriving at 2:00?

Your & You’re

Your means of or relating to you or yourself.
You’re is the contraction of “you are.”

You’re doing a fabulous job with your diet.

 



CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: TEF CONSULTING

With over 28 years of front-line customer service experience, Client Relationship and Customer Care Expert Troy Fisher now specializes in helping Southern California organizations flourish. His business, TEF Consulting, provides customer service training that improves his clients’ bottom line. Clients take advantage of his experience, knowledge and tools to adapt their organization’s culture into one where customers and service always come first. The results can be transformative.

To learn more, visit the website I helped create for him.



What Others Are Saying

"The best part about working with Linda is how she does what she does. Just work on one project with her and experience her process. She has amazing listening skills and her ability to take your ideas and transform them into appealing marketable material is amazing."

Troy Fisher
President, TEF Consulting LLC