Words: Don’t you love the variation

LET'S talk about words. After all, they are what I do for a living.

We all strive to ensure our words are correct, especially when we put them in writing, but is there a person out there who can claim to be precise all of the time?

Might I politely suggest many of you get your "sliver" mixed up with your "slither".

"Just give me a small slither," I've been known to say when someone is cutting up the birthday cake.

We rarely have to say "sliver" in our day to day routines, but we often have the occasion to say "slither".

So out pops a slither when it should have been a sliver.

(An aside: If I said what I really wanted to say when someone is cutting up the birthday cake ("give me the biggest chunk possible") I would never have to worry about my slithers and slivers again, would I?

Some kind reader picked me up not so long ago when I referred to something as 'slavering' rather that the correct word of 'slathering.'

I can't recall what it was I was slavering or slathering at the time and I don't wish to. It all sounds rather unsavoury now that I look back.

Two words so many people get wrong, and I am talking about people who should know better (writers, PR professionals, journalists, educators), is "compliment" and "complement".

I can't count the number of press releases I receive every week with the complement being referred to as a compliment.

Now, no one likes a compliment more than I do - keep them coming - but when something enhances something else, it is always a "complement" with an "e".  It's an easy one to remember.

A compliment is something some nice person gives you, everything else is the other.

That's all you have to keep in mind. Another word that trips up so many is "stationary" as opposed to "stationery". Here's the trick.

When I first started work as a secretary decades ago, someone told me the simple trick of getting this one right every time.

Remember the word envelopes when you think of stationery and you'll always spell it correctly with an "e" rather than an "a" to explain something sitting stationary.

So in case you've had enough of my words of wisdom, I'll sliver off now and slaver myself (or I could sit still and be stationery and wait for the complements.)  

Topics:  ann rickard opinion

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