#WordUse Series: Dear Kroger
(Why You Need an Editor #5,278)

Sent in early December …

Dear Kroger,

Y’all spend a lot of money on these lovely multipage mailers with recipes and beautiful photography and coupons. (I have an idea about how much these things cost, what with the photo shoots and the graphic designers, the postage, and, oh, the copywriters. You have 2,400 stores in 31 states so I’m guessing $250,000.) So don’t you think you could spare a crust for an editor in that big budget?

I ask this because on page 7, the brochure reads, “… then display the candle as a centerpiece or a mantle decoration.” However, your young copywriter has made an error. A MANTLE is a cloak or a robe. A MANTEL is the ornamental shelf over a fireplace—which is what your photograph indicates. How many people saw this flyer? I based my cost guesstimate on four million. Dude.

Your friend,
An editor and Kroger shopper

There’s no misspelling here. It’s a common problem, and I don’t just mean the mantle/mantel conundrum. (Which is, by the way, a homophone: one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning, derivation, or spelling—such as all and awl or ritewriteright, and wright. Or mantle and mantel.*)

I see this sort of thing all the time on websites, in correspondence, advertisements (usually local; but we should call Kroger’s ad a regional one), and so on. Surely I’m not the only one who notices?

Sometimes it is a misspelling. Or a pronunciation issue. Or confusion over the meaning. Sometimes the writer has heard the word or phrase but never seen it written. But guessing is never the way to go on this, friends. Not in a world in which the Internet exists. So in case you didn’t know some of these, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help.

It’s definitely, not defiantly. Two adverbs, both alike in dignity … but I’m pretty sure you meant definitely (positively, unmistakably). In fact, I’m definitely sure that’s what you meant.

It’s intact (one word), not in tact (two words). The latter isn’t … well, it isn’t intact. And while we’re at it … it’s tack, not tact. If you’re changing direction, you’re taking a new tack. Tact is what you employ when your best friend says, “Do these jeans make me look fat?”

It’s a moot point, not a mute point. This issue is not moot: there is only one way to spell this word and only one way to pronounce it. What does the cow say? Mooot.

He’s a world-renowned artist, not a world-renown artist. Renown, a noun = fame; renowned, an adjective = famous.

It’s shudder, not shutter. If it has to do with shaking or shivering, it’s shudder. A shutter, among many other things, is a cover for a window. Is it alludeelude, or illude? I alluded (mentioned indirectly) to a famous play above. That reference may have eluded (escaped) you. But I wasn’t trying to illude (deceive) you.

It’s all right, not alright. Seriously, it’s never all right to use alright. Not in elegant writing, or even good writing, which is what we’re aiming for, right? Hear, hear. And you’ll notice, it’s hear, hear! Not here, here. You can read about it (ahem) here.

It’s unique, never very unique. Because the latter is redundant. And good golly, kids, it’s take it for granted, not take it for granite. Unless you’re replacing those Formica countertops with stone.

It’s speak your piece, not speak your peace. You hold your peace (that is, remain silent); if you’re going to audibilize, you’re speaking your piece. Two different idioms altogether.

We could go on and on: affect/effect, that/who, anxious/eager, farther/further, more than/over … and don’t get me started on lie/lay and all the possible permutations of error in that. As I’ve said before, I’m here to help, without judgment. But I won’t always be looking over your shoulder, so what should you do? Hint: Don’t assume you know, as Kroger’s copywriter did. Look it up!

*Not to be confused with a homonym: one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning—such as a pool of water and pool, the game (billiards).

Tweet: Y’all spend a lot of money on these mailers; can’t you hire an editor in that big budget?
Tweet: Guessing isn’t the way to go on this, friends. Not in a world in which the Internet exists.
Tweet: It’s definitely, not defiantly. Two adverbs, both alike in dignity …

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Words & Language | Tagged as: , , , | Bookmark the permalink | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.