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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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qualify

Most tips are simple!

Most is a term of quantity – ‘She scored the most goals’ and ‘He ate most of the cake.’

Almost is a measure of qualifying something else – ‘We are almost there’ and ‘You’re almost to the top.’

Although the two words are similar in sound, they are very different and should not be used in the same way. A simple way to remember the difference: Almost is nearly all done

Maintaining the flow of ideas

Writing with disjointed ideas that don’t flow from one to another is not easy to read and not a good advertisement for you. So how can you make your writing flow?

  1. My first tip is to proof read everything you write – preferably after a decent break from it and by someone else for anything important. It is easy to write down things as they occur to you but reading it later will show the lack of flow
  2. Qualify any alternative perceptions, usually words such as although, however, despite and but will help things flow better. For example “I think chocolate is best. Caramel has more flavour” doesn’t flow as well as “I think chocolate is best although caramel has more flavour.”
  3. plan your messgae before you write it – if you know what each paragraph is about before you start,  you are less likely to include irrelevant material
  4. Remember that you don’t have to include everything you know about a topic in one piece of writing (even a thesis will have appendices and refer to external material!) Trying to include every fact and all points of view often leads to disjointed results so just include the details relevant to your purpose
  5. Check each paragraph covers only one idea and then review the order of the paragraphs so that information builds on itself and related ideas are in subsequent paragraphs. The beauty of word processing software is that you can move paragraphs and sentences around easily until they are in the right order for ideas to flow – not as easy to manage with pen and paper or a typewriter!

Is maintaining the flow of ideas in your writing something you consciously work on?

Absolute words

Earlier in the week I wrote a post about products being exclusively available in one department store being a misleading statement (things are either exclusive or they aren’t!) and it reminded me of an article I wrote in my newsletter some time ago (it was my November 2004 newsletter to be precise!)

Here is what I wrote back then:

Don’t over qualify

There are a group of words that have very precise meanings – these words don’t need any qualifying to make them strong, and in fact it is grammatically wrong to attempt qualifying them.

For instance, the word unique means one of a kind so something is either unique or it isn’t – ‘very unique’, ‘particularly unique’, ‘most unique’ and similar combinations are unnecessary.

Other words that are commonly misused in this way are:

Electrocuted – the word actually means to be killed by electricity, not receive an electric shock.

Perfect – means there can be no improvement; adding ‘very’ to it doesn’t serve any purpose.

Fatal – means deadly. An accident is fatal or it isn’t, it can’t be ‘very fatal’ or ‘really fatal’.

In most of these examples, they can be qualified by using a word such as ‘almost’ or ‘nearly’; the word unique, however, can’t be qualified at all.

What other words can you think of that are absolute in their own right?

Exclusively present at how many places?

I recently saw a sign on the back of a bus that included  “available exclusively at no other department stores”.

It left me wondering was it exclusive to the advertiser or not? It  was the only department store stocking the product but it could well be available at other places which means it wasn’t exclusive at all!

Let’s look at what exclusive really means…

exclusive: entirely, not shared or including others
The reporter had an exclusive story as the witness spoke only to her.

Exclusive is an absolute term so it can’t be qualified – that is, something is exclusive or it isn’t, there is no middle option. “I’ll give you and the other TV stations an exclusive interview” and “the exclusive club is open to everyone” don’t make sense.