Saturday, September 21, 2013


This week's error comes from a brochure I received promoting a seminar to help me become a better communicator. The brochure and seminar come from a well-regarded, usually highly-credible organization.

"Principals" are people who are in charge of an organization or responsible for something. Your elementary school, for example, had a principal -- and your consulting firm may, too. There are numerous other meanings of "principal" (check your dictionary) but none of them is appropriate in this context.

"Principles" are basic truths or laws that help us organize or make sense of things. For example, in Public Relations we study the principles of persuasion -- a set of fundamental truths that help us understand how people tend to respond to things.

This seminar, I'm fairly certain, discusses the fundamentals of crowdsourcing -- not the people in charge.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Yesterday in my first-year Public Relations classes, we discussed some common grammatical errors. One such error is the use of the pronoun "myself" when the writer really means "me."

This morning, not 24 hours later, I received an email that closed with the following invitation:
"Myself" is properly used in a few ways, including:
  1. self-reflexively (when you are talking about carrying out an action on yourself) - e.g. "I dressed myself before leaving the house."
  2. for emphasis - e.g. "I heard him say it myself."
  3. to describe your normal state of being - e.g. "I apologize - I'm not myself today."
If you'd like a more detailed explanation, the Grammar Girl blog provides a great overview of how to use "me" and "myself" properly.

In the example from my email this morning, the writer is telling the reader to follow up with the writer -- the writer him/herself isn't going to be doing the following up.  Since the action is going to be taken by a person who isn't the writer of the sentence, the self-reflexive pronoun is incorrect.

The sentence should read "Please follow up with me, Gail or Tim for your reservation" (or, even better, "Please follow up with Gail, Tim or me for your reservation").

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I noticed this on the window of a nice restaurant here in Winnipeg.

"Complimentary" means "provided at no cost," which I assume is what the proprietors of this restaurant mean.

"Complementary" means "goes together with, or completes, something else."

While you may feel wireless Internet service completes your pleasant dinner experience, this sign doesn't tell you the wireless Internet service is provided at no additional cost to you. To do that, it would need to say the restaurant offers complimentary wireless Internet service.

Think spelling errors don't matter to customers? Read this Shel Holtz article from PR Daily, "Spelling and grammar do matter, according to consumers," that suggests differently.