Monkeying Around with Grammar

Monkeying Around

If you’ve been through sales training in the past few years or listened to any of my SkillShare classes, you’ve heard me talk about the 12 Grammar Monkeys. These are the top 12 most common grammatical errors the CCS proofing team sees when reviewing proposals – including some punctuation issues and things like their/there/they’re or it’s vs. its.

The handout I discuss provides definitions and examples to those pesky problems (and it’s available upon request). However, the mistakes don’t stop there. We’ve done blogs on typos and word confusion, and yet silly errors abound.

So, let’s do this again – the next 10 grammar monkeys throwing a wrench into your writing:

1. Peak/Pique/Peek

Peek (verb) means to take a quick glance. I peek at my Christmas presents early.

Peak (noun) refers to the pointy top of something. Look at the mountain peak.

Pique (verb) means to stimulate or excite. This blog piqued my interest.

2. Accept/Except/Expect

Accept (verb) means to agree to (take) something. I accept this job.

Except (preposition, most common) means but. Everyone is here except John.

Expect (verb) means to believe something will happen. I expect to hear from him soon.

3. Excess/Access

Excess (noun, adjective) means extra or too much. An excess of sugar; Excess baggage.

Access (verb, most common) means to gain ability to use. I gained access to the roof.

4. Weather/Whether

Weather (noun, verb) is the state of atmosphere. Sunny weather; Weathering a storm.

Whether (conjunction) means if. Whether we like it or not, it’s Monday.

5. Principal/Principle

Principal (noun, verb) means head of school or means first. Don’t make me send you to the principal; This is our principal account.

Principle (noun) means basic truth. One of our guiding principles is honesty.

6. Site/Sight/Cite

Site (noun) is a location. Meet me at the job site.

Sight (noun) refers to seeing. It was a beautiful sight.

Cite (verb) means to reference something. You must cite your source.

7. Aid/Aide

Aid (verb, noun) means to help or assistance. We provide aid at the homeless shelter.

Aide (noun) refers to an assistant. The teacher’s aide is named Susan.

8. Personal/Personnel

Personal (adjective) means relating to or affecting a person. My personal opinion.

Personnel (noun) refers to a collection of people. HR is part of the personnel dept.

9. Who’s/Whose

Who’s is a contraction for who is/who has. Who’s coming to dinner tonight?

Whose is the possessive form of who. Whose dinner is this?

10. Allude/Elude

Allude (verb) means to refer to something indirectly; As I alluded to earlier …

Elude (verb) means to evade/escape; I eluded the cops.

(BONUS: Allusion and illusion are often confused, too. As a noun, allusion holds basically the same meaning as stated above, whereas illusion (noun) most commonly refers to something wrongfully perceived. The video game creates the illusion of flying.)

Now that you know, stop letting those monkeys mess up your proposals!

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long – whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot – we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

Recent Memos

Elizabeth Burr

Class is in session

The problem with business writing is people tend to unnecessarily elevate it, which, ironically, decreases its value. So, let’s go over the Top 10 tips for better business writing.

Read More »