real estate marketing grammar: Do your marketing efforts have an effect or an affect? - 08/01/15 02:16 PM
Kathy Streib told me that the words "affect" and "effect" give her trouble, so she generally uses "impact" rather than choose one or the other.
Since I had at one time thought I knew the rule - but then found some exceptions that confused the issue, I decided to go look it up and give myself a refresher course.
I did – and now I'll share.
First – normal use:
Effect is a noun:
"Your marketing efforts will have a decided effect on your success."
Affect is a verb:
"The kind of marketing you do will affect the outcome."
In both of those cases, "impact" would … (22 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Lay vs. lie - which to use? - 07/30/15 02:18 AM
Kathy Streib asked me to find some rules for the use of lie and lay, so I went in search... And found that there's no wonder most of us are confused.
Choosing whether to use lie or lay is easy if you're only working in present tense.
The confusion comes because:
Many people use these words incorrectly – in songs, and in phrases we hear often. The past tense is tricky Lay is a verb that requires a direct object. In other words, it's something you do with something else. "Please lay the report on my desk."
Lie does not. It's something you do, … (36 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Why do grammar, spelling, and word usage matter? - 07/22/15 07:55 AM
Why do errors in grammar, spelling, and word usage matter in real estate marketing?
Because those errors make the reader focus on our words instead of our message.
And when readers pay more attention to the words that the thoughts they are trying to convey, communication falters.
Nobody writes just to exercise their fingers – we write to communicate. We may have a marketing message; we may be trying to persuade someone to see things our way; we may have information to convey; we may have a story to share; or we may just want to let someone know that we care about … (26 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Do you make these distracting/annoying grammar goofs? - 07/18/15 04:57 AM
Some grammar goofs are more annoying and distracting than others, and I expect all of us who love words have a different idea of which are "worst of the worst." They're the ones that, for us, act like big stop signs in the text, just before they begin shouting "Error! Error! Error!"
When Kathy Streib and I were discussing this recently, she told me that the goof that annoys her the most is misuse of the words "advise" and "advice." I mentioned that I'd written about that one, I thought more than once. She asked me to do it again, because the misuse … (45 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Another grammar question: "different from" or "different than?" - 04/17/15 07:00 AM
Another real estate grammar question: Should you write "different from" or "different than?"
Do you sometimes question whether your choice of words was correct, then have to stop and find the answer?
That happened this morning when I wrote a comment on my post about letting your personality show when writing – especially when writing blog posts. 
I said that Gene Mundt's English teacher had a goal in mind that had nothing to do with marketing. Marketing is different from academia.
Then I thought "Is that correct?" Maybe I should have written "different than."
It turns out that "from" is correct, because "than" is only supposed to be … (20 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: If I was vs. if I were - advice vs. advise. Which to use when? - 03/25/15 02:38 AM
"If I were." "If I was." Which is correct?
Something I read yesterday just didn't look right, so I had to go and look it up. The question in my mind was whether it was proper to say "If I were" or "If I was."
My reading revealed the fact that much of the confusion stems from song lyrics. It seems that song writers use the phrases interchangeably, depending upon which fits the cadence of the song.
But… they're incorrect in doing so. "If I was" is incorrect.
As it turns out, the word "If" is the key. "If I … (28 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: A Short Word Rant for Saturday... - 03/21/15 09:11 AM
Today's email came with an offer for me to make a whole lot of money - or anyway, some money. 
I didn't pay a lot of attention to the promotion, because the subject line set my teeth on edge. It read: "Your invited to...(whatever it was)"
I couldn't stand it. I've never done it before, but today I wrote back to this person and told him that if he wanted people to take him seriously, he needed to learn the difference between "your" and "you're."
I told him  "Your" is a word that means "belonging to you."
The word you needed … (17 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Why the problem with "Myself?" - 03/10/15 07:53 AM
Why do so many intelligent, well-spoken people have such a propensity to misuse the word "myself?"
I see it in blogs, in advertisements, in emails, and on web pages. And few days ago I was horrified to find this error in an email from a copywriter. If anyone should know better, it's a person who earns her living writing for other people!
She wrote: "I want to personally invite you to join myself and (name of friend), for a special webinar…"
“Myself” is not a subject word and it’s not an object word. "Myself" is a reflexive pronoun, which … (36 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Another rant... I'm a person, not a "thing" - 02/28/15 11:56 AM
Please excuse me for returning to an old real estate grammar rant... 
More and more lately I've noticed bloggers referring to themselves or other people as "that" rather than who. 
"When you want an agent that has your best interests at heart..." 
"The young man that made the offer on..."
You get the idea.
Maybe I shouldn't let it bug me, but it does, because "that" refers to a thing, not a person. When you're talking about yourself or some other person, use "who." 
There's some debate among grammarians over whether "who" should be used in reference to pets, and there … (27 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Me, myself, and I – When we're alone you usually understand us - 02/13/15 01:31 PM
Me, myself and I join he and him and she and her in being some of the most mis-used words in the English language, and I don't understand why.
Is it because school kids really don't want to learn the difference between a subject and an object, so they refuse to learn when to use these pronouns?
Nope, that can't be it, because if it was, they wouldn't get it right when using those words by themselves - and they usually do. The problem usually comes when one of those words gets paired with a noun or another pronoun.
For instance, I … (51 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: In Real Estate Marketing Messages Redundancy Can Make you Look Silly - 02/12/15 12:38 AM
How many times have you heard an automated message like the one on my answering machine today: "Right now Idaho roads are currently underfunded at a rate of …"
I don't know what the rest said, because I deleted when it got that far, but the first sentence is an example of messages I've heard many times, as in "I'm currently away from the phone right now."
It crops up in computer messages too – as in "The item you've ordered is currently out of stock at this time."
Somehow, those statements make the speaker sound a bit ridiculous. Don't they know that … (21 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Choose your real estate marketing words to attract, not annoy - 02/02/15 04:12 AM
In real estate marketing copy, as in conversation, some words attract and some repel or annoy. 
You've probably noticed that different groups of people are prone to use words that annoy YOU - even though the speaker or writer had no intention to do so. 
I was reminded of this yesterday when my son was here and had the TV tuned to the ghost hunter show. I mentioned that the show was entertaining, but I could not really appreciate the main character because of his constant use of the word "dude" when talking to his crew. To me it makes him sound juvenile and … (24 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: "If you catch an adjective, kill it." - 01/15/15 07:09 AM
"When you catch an adjective, kill it."
That's a quote from one of the master writers of our time – Mark Twain.

Of course, that isn't the entire quote. The rest of it is: "No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are far apart."
Think about that when you're writing property descriptions. One adjective tied to a well-chosen noun will make an impression. A whole string of them will lose the reader. So will an adjective tied to every noun. It … (145 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Beware of voice recognition software! - 01/10/15 04:22 AM
Do you ever watch TV with the sound off - and read what their software thinks people said? Most of it is correct, but every now and then there's a word that turns an otherwise serious statement into something hilarious. 
Other times it comes out so garbled that you don't know WHAT they were trying to say.
The same thing can happen to you if you use voice recognition software and don't edit before you send. 
It can also confuse your reader and/or make you look just a bit illiterate - like when it says:
there for their or they're except … (33 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: A Brand New Real Estate Word Usage Blooper - 12/30/14 08:26 AM
This one is so strange that I'd be willing to bet that no one reading this post has ever made this mistake. 
While doing a little research today, I came across an agent site that stated: "Many of our current residences first came here as tourists."
And here I thought they came here as piles of boards, nails, windows, etc. - or as manufactured homes. From now on, I'm going to be keeping my eyes open for houses that are wandering around, getting to know the area. 
The rest of that page was also pretty sad - with paragraphs and even … (29 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Oh those pesky word pairs... - 12/23/14 08:12 AM
Using the wrong word makes whole sentences make no sense, so it really does pay to learn which is proper.
Three problem pairs that I've been seeing a lot lately are:
Compliment /complement Loose / lose Devices / devises Let's start at the top:
A compliment is something you pay when you say something nice to someone. It's a flattering remark, like what your clients say at the end of a tough yet successful transaction: "You did a fantastic job for us!"
Change that "i" to an "e" and you get a completely different meaning – or rather a couple of … (76 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Woo Hoo! Busting a grammar myth! - 12/04/14 05:46 AM
This one is for Debbie Gartner  – and everyone else who has ever apologized for ending a sentence with a preposition.
It turns out…
The rule that says you mustn't end a sentence with a preposition tops the list of Grammar Girl's top ten grammar myths.
It is perfectly fine to end your sentence with a preposition, as long as the sentence needs it.
It's not fine when it's extraneous, as it "Where are you at?"
Think about it. If you took "to" away from the sentence "Who are you talking to?" it would sound dumb and make no sense at all. … (69 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Real estate marketing grammar: farther or further? - 12/03/14 03:01 PM
When Chris Ann Cleland called to ask me to clarify usage of farther and further, I started laughing. This has been such a tough one for me that I generally avoid using either one. And I'm not alone.  Copywriting guru Bob Bly once wrote that these were two words he couldn't keep straight, so he tended to avoid them.
So, I went to Grammar Girl, and I found good news for all of us who are confused.
The word farther refers to physical distance, as in "How much farther to Grandma's house?"
Further refers to metaphorical or figurative distance, as in "If … (41 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Real Estate Grammar: Is it "passed" or "past?" - 12/01/14 05:30 AM
This is one of those pairs that I think I know until I start to write it, then I feel a little unsure. So… I went looking for the rule, and I found it.
The only time to use "passed" is when it is the past tense of the verb "to pass." It's a firm rule, and the ONLY time it's proper to use the word "passed."
"To pass" can include "to move past (or across, or beyond)," "to pass through," and "to pass" as in what happens when you get an acceptable grade on a test.  
Please pass the … (21 comments)

real estate marketing grammar: Affect vs effect – which is which? - 11/21/14 02:05 PM
Thanks to Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 for suggesting my research for today: The difference between affect and effect.
This is a pair or words I thought I had down pat, until I read something to the contrary that made me think perhaps they were sometimes interchangeable. As it turns out, what I read to the contrary was incorrect, and what I thought I knew is right the majority of the time, but there are exceptions.
First, we'll start with what Grammar Girl says is correct 95% of the time:
Affect is a verb.
Effect is a noun.
"Seeing the flooded basement affected … (24 comments)

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Marte Cliff

Your real estate writer

Priest River, ID

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Marte Cliff Copywriting

Address: 1794 Blue Lake Road, Priest River, ID, 83856

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