Monthly Grammar Notes: June 2017

Opus is a full-service marketing agency. As such, we consider each and every member of the Opus team to have a direct hand in marketing. Every point of contact with customers, prospects, and partners presents an opportunity to further our brand. We take pride in the quantity and quality of our communication—no matter the medium—which makes it even more important for our writing to be strong and free of errors. To that end, Opus sends out weekly “Friday Grammar Notes” with the aim of raising the bar of the written word across the entire agency. Our notes should provide utility to everyone, whether you’re a fledgling scribbler or a confirmed word nerd.

This month we discuss lose-loose situations, say what needs saying about gerunds, and remind you that less is more (but sometimes it’s fewer).

HOLD ON LOOSELY

Let’s take a quick look at two similarly spelled words that get mixed up all the time: lose and loose.

The difference in meaning is clear:

Lose is a verb that means to fail to win a game or contest, to misplace something, or to fail to maintain ownership of something.

Loose is an adjective, describing something that is not tightly fastened, attached, or held, like baggy pants or spare change in your car console.

EXAMPLE: Last night, the Cavs managed to lose a winnable game by being way too loose with their ball-handling.

These spellings are easily addled, but there’s a simple way to remember the difference: the word lose has lost the extra O.

Keep that spelling tight—it’s a win-win for you and your reader!

GERUND AND ROUND

Nothing brightens up a week like a refresher on gerunds.

A gerund is a verb that takes a new job as a noun. All it needs is “-ing” as a suffix. Here are a few gerunds in action:

  • His juggling had gotten better with years of practice.
  • I’ve been avoiding cleaning my car for weeks.
  • Spencer’s artful crafting of the friendship bracelet amazed Brian.

Gerunds are often seen in resumes or job descriptions. For example:

  • Customer Success Leads are responsible for the planning and execution of events.

We love gerunds so much, we sign all of our grammar notes with one!

LESS FEWER THAN ZERO

The Grammar Note Team hopes you’re having a fantastic summer! Personally, my goal is to eat less hot dogs this year than last. Or is it fewer hot dogs?

We use the word fewer to describe count nouns. It is a count noun if it can be counted one-by-one.

EXAMPLE: Maybe this year we should set off fewer fireworks, last year we went overboard!

Use the word less for non-count nouns.

EXAMPLE: There was less water in the pool after uncle Jerry did a cannon ball.

A common misuse of the word less is at the grocery store! The line labeled “15 Items or Less” is actually incorrect. It should read, “15 Items or Fewer,” as items are countable.

Do you like what you read? Whether you’re a fellow grammar nerd or you’re pretty sure a diphthong is a type of sandal, we’ve got plenty more grammar tips to go around. Until next month: good writing!

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