April 28
April 2015  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

—Stephen King

Word Pair of the Month: threw, through

This month’s words are homophones, which means they sound the same but are spelled differently. Let’s begin with the word “threw,” which the past tense of the verb “throw”:

Gina threw the spoiled leftovers into the garbage.

This is a good sentence to help you remember that “threw” has an “ew” in it.

The second “through” can be one of several parts of speech, depending on its use. Used as a preposition, it describes a movement going in one end or side and out the other

A soft breeze wafted through the open window.

Used as an adverb, it refers to movement from beginning to end:

I have read the report through and have questions on the conclusion.

Finally, when used as an adjective, the word suggests the end of an action or process:

When will you be through with that project?

Or the adjective might describe an uninterrupted passage:

The city turned that dead-end road into a through street.

There is a tendency nowadays, thanks to text shortcuts, to spell either word as “thru.” Resist the temptation to do this. In business writing, you should always avoid trendy spellings as well as slang phrases, to keep a professional tone in your work.

Writers’ Forum Question

Many businesses use slogans or logos as a catchy way to indicate their purpose. How was your company’s motto or logo developed? What did you want in this identifier, and what did you want to avoid? Please share your experiences.

Thomas O’Malley of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, shared this story:

Our family-owned shoe shop has been around for years. But when we recently remodeled, we decided to add a slogan to the sign above the door. We put a suggestion box on the counter and asked customers for ideas, with a gift certificate as a prize. The one that tickled us the most was simply "Where the Shoe Fits." It suggests comfort and pragmatism, with a hint of "Cinderella" charm. Most importantly, though, it fits on our sign!

Tina Chan, who owns a computer-repair shop outside Atlanta, had this to say:

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. I agonized over a logo when I first decided to open this business. Eventually I went to a graphic-design consultant. She looked over my business plan, asked me a few questions, and then said, “Why not use your initials? Call the shop TC-PC.” That clicked, and it’s easy for customers to remember.

A Final Thought

Mark Twain once opined, “When you see an adverb, kill it.” While you might not want to drop all your adverbs, it’s a good idea to trim your writing to make it the cleanest, clearest communication possible. That means cutting unnecessary adverbs and eliminating excess adjectives as well. Try instead to find one perfect noun-for example, a “mangy, mixed-breed dog” might be simply a “mutt.” Cut redundancies as well. Give your reader a break by making your writing easy to read and understand, without all the fancy rhetoric.

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