March 4 is National Grammar Day. Isn't that fun? At the very least, you'll have to admit that grammar can be funny.

Watch Brazilian schoolchildren learn English by correcting celebrities' tweets

View this photo collection of embarrassing misspellings and more

Read the children's illustrated version of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"

Grammar can also be frustrating, which is why I'm sharing some common errors with you.

Use and Utilize

A lot of people use the words "use" and "utilize" interchangeably. However, "use" and "utilize" do not mean the same thing. "Utilize" means using something as it was not originally intended. For instance, you could "utilize" a dime as a screwdriver or a hard-soled shoe as a hammer, although you would probably prefer to "use" an actual screwdriver or hammer since they are right tool for the job.

Continuous and Continual

Similarly, "continuous" and "continual" are not synonyms. They are both adjectives, and they both describe a period of time. Here's the distinction: if something is "continuous," then it has no interruptions. None. So, the radio station that says they play "Continuous Soft Rock" is wrong. News, commercials and even the promotions for "Continuous Soft Rock" all interrupt the music, so it's not "continuous."

Alternate and Alternative

Like the previous example, "alternate" and "alternative" are easily - and often - confused. For instance, when reporting a traffic jam, a newscaster may recommend that drivers look for "alternate" routes. Long story short, taking an "alternate" route isn't wrong, but taking an "alternative" route would definitely be right.

Impactful

"Impactful" is one of those words that has been used (ahem, misused!) so much that it has become widely accepted - even though it doesn't appear in most dictionaries. People use it to mean "having a lot of impact." The next time you're talking about something that is "full of impact," consider using an alternative word, like "meaningful," "effective" or "influential."


If you ever have a question, just ask Grammar Girl at QuickAndDirtyTips.com. Grammar Girl dispels all the myths, and the website is a great resource for all of your questions about grammar, punctuation and word usage. The lessons are easy to understand, and the archive is a grammatical treasure trove.

Send me a message tell me if you'll stop "utilizing" that word (except, of course, when it's the right word to use!).


TIPS OF THE TRADE

Remember, there's more to grant writing than just "writing." A careful review of your grant proposals is the last step before submission.

Check out this month's tips to improve your grammar and eliminate the jargon in your writing. Everything you write will be better when you follow these simple tips.

15 Grammar Goofs That Can Make You Look Silly (infographic)

11 Common Grammar Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

50 Alternatives To All The Jargon You're Using

BONUS! 50 MORE Ways To Fix All The Jargon You're Using

BONUS! 50 FINAL Ways To Fix All The Jargon You're Using


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