By Andrea Merrell
It’s been said that the English language is the hardest to learn and understand.
For instance, most languages only have one word (maybe two or three at the most) to describe a happy emotion or something extraordinary. We, on the other hand, might say words like awesome, incredible, amazing, fantastic, astonishing, breathtaking, remarkable, wonderful, fabulous …
fill in the blank.
There are words with a negative connotation like rude, inconsiderate, impolite, disrespectful, discourteous, thoughtless, insensitive … shall I go on?
Then there are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Words like your and you’re; their, there, and they’re; its and it’s; who’s and whose.
And while we’re at it, why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway? But I digress …
No wonder it’s hard for other cultures to grasp the meaning of our words. But many times it’s hard for us as well.
As writers, it’s important for us to have a good working knowledge of words—both the meaning and the spelling. If you’re writing about a man who went to sea, you wouldn’t say he went out to see. See what? Big difference, right?
If your protagonist needs her husband to pick up a pear at the grocery store, you wouldn’t want to write a pair on the list. A pair of what?
Maybe your antagonist is peeking around the corner at his prey. You certainly don’t want him peaking (or piquing) around that corner at his pray.
These may sound like silly examples, but as an editor, I see these mistakes often. Just like a comma can make all the difference (Let’s eat, Grandma vs. Let’s eat Grandma), misspelled and misused words can derail our writing and irritate our readers.
Do we all make mistakes? Absolutely. Are we going to get everything right all the time? Of course not. But we need to do the best we can, especially when writing for the Lord.
Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others. For we know that we will receive a reward, an inheritance from the Lord, as we serve the Lord Yahweh, the Anointed One! (Colossians 3:23-24 TPT)
When in doubt, get out your dictionary or do a Google search. You’ll be glad you did—and so will your readers.
What particular words do you struggle with? We would love to hear from you.