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Quality, Service, Value, Needs:
Top Dogs on Our Writing Most-Wanted List
We began our campaign against worn-out words and phrases in 2017 with three
posts on what to weed from our writing (June, July, December). We hope in 2018 you’ve been on guard against those verbal saboteurs that would sneak in to weaken your prose.
This year we will also start to call out offenders that belong on our
Writing Most-Wanted List. These words and phrases are more than worn out:
They are grizzled veterans of survival despite being verbal vagrants for
decades. They continue reappearing with the same vague and tired meanings,
and the older they get, the more invincible they feel.
Our first four outlaws are quality, service, value, and needs, particularly as they apply to
communication by just about any organization ranging from auto shops to
finance firms to schools to healthcare centers.
Let’s look at why the words belong behind bars, at least until
they’re able to offer our writing distinction and substance again.
Everyone promises it. No one retains it after reading it, because it is now
to us only a word. Think of how often you’ve been promised a quality product or been told we offer you the highest quality. What exactly is it? When someone
expresses to you that their quality separates them from (insert
competitor here), are you convinced? Neither are we.
Ours is the best. Nobody tries or works harder than we do to get the job
done and ensure your satisfaction. The total, absolute, unmistakable
difference between us and them is our service. Or, worse yet, we
double up with quality service. Again, everyone's heard it before,
and it's nearly impossible to prove in a message by reference alone.
Many of us have said or written it: Get more value from your (or our) [insert what you offer]. It’s value-added. We move you up the value chain.
In content, the word is like an egg without the yolk and white inside: It's
boring to look at, and we don't even get its basic benefits upon cracking
Although it may appear the least harmful of the bunch, it is possibly the
most frequent invader, perhaps because we feel it lends a human touch.
We respond to your needs. We have the resources to satisfy all of your needs. We focus on the needs of the (customer, patient, student, etc.). It can still hold a job in personal communication, but beyond being
overused, it sounds mushy and meek in formal and professional writing.
Once we’ve seized these miscreants and put them where they can no
longer sap strength from our writing, we might wonder what to do next.
After all, they’ve been reliable go-to’s for a long time.
The solution is simple. Instead of depending on vacant, general labels, we
provide our readers specifics that let them form their own ideas of
quality, service, value, and needs.
Dur-a-Stop brakes are scientifically proven by three separate labs to last
three times longer than the next leading competitor’s. (quality)
Our hospital provides free local transport and personal waiting rooms for
all immediate family members during inpatient stays. (service)
Smart University’s teacher-to-student ratio ensures that on average
each student receives 1.5 times more individual attention than at other
regional schools with the same tuition. (value)
The staff at Eddie Van Hendrix’s Musical Mecca features twelve
different genre experts to assist with even obscure and highly specialized
requirements. (needs within the context of service)
Late-breaking news: Our international network of grammar police has spotted
all four of these runaways. They are closing in on them right at this
moment, and apprehension is imminent. Once we have them in custody, you can
help us keep them safely away from good writing by focusing on the details
that show your excellence in meeting your audience’s desire for quality,
service, value, and fulfillment of needs.
View this article on our website
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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern
The Authority on English Grammar! Eleventh Edition Now Available
An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, homeschool families, editors, writers, and proofreaders.
Available in print AND as an e-Book! Over 2,000 copies are purchased every month!
The publisher of The Blue Book, Jossey-Bass, A Wiley brand, is offering a 35 percent discount for those of you who order the book through Wiley.com. Shipping and tax are not included. Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4A.
Offer expires December 31, 2018.
More fun for our lexophiles:
• I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
• I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
• Broken pencils are pointless.
• What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
• I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
English In A Snap:
68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.