Do You Make these Word Usage Errors?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Every now and then, I have to go off on a rant about words and the usage errors I see here on Active Rain, on agent websites, and in newsletters. 

Why? Because I think these simple usage errors ruin your credibility with your target audience.

Before your prospects meet you, the only way they can evaluate you is by your written words, and these errors give the wrong impression. I know that you don't need to be good at grammar or spelling to be a fantastic agent. But not all of your prospects think the way I do.

Worse, misuse of these words throws "Stop signs" into the middle of a paragraph - causing the reader to stop and figure out what was meant. In a marketing message, that destroys the flow and the persuasive power of the message.

Here's a list of words that have placed "Stop signs" in my reading over the past couple of months.

The first one is no doubt a typo - Just a matter of typing too fast and missing a letter. I like this one because it always makes me laugh. Check it out in this sentence:

"We have no way to predict how long interest rats will remain low."

It paints a funny picture in my mind... how about in yours?

OK, now for the more serious "Stop signs" that have jumped out at me lately.

Following are words that are often confused and misused in written communications...

lose / loose (this one is the most common)missing tooth

rain / reign /rein

brake / break

here / hear

their / there / they're

your / you're

meet / meat

alterior (which is a misspelling) / ulterior

past / passed

sum / some

are / our

should of / should have (our local newspaper editor always gets this one wrong!)

If you aren't sure about the use of those words, look them up. Write a cheat sheet for yourself and then double-check your work before you send it out.

Don't destroy your credibility before your prospects get the chance to meet you and learn that you are a fantastic real estate agent!




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Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

Marte - Very funny and oh, so true - sometimes we have to slow down and pay attention - spell check doesn't find and correct these mistakes. A few more to add to your list: bear/bare -Principal/Principle - to/too and my all time favorite: new and knew! 

Mar 13, 2011 10:36 AM #1
Justin Ochs
Diamond Ochs Enterprises - Nashville, TN
Real Estate Auctioneer

Ms Marte:  I must admit, I'm guilty of some of these typos.  Many times I stare at the screen so long I can't see the errors.  Good thing my wife & even my mom will still read my posts and email me if I've made a typo!

Mar 13, 2011 10:37 AM #2
Retired Notworking
Tallahassee, FL

These errors can make anyone appear to be uneducated and it grates on my nerves  also. It's possible, however, that many of them are from typing too fast, not because the author didn't know better.

Mar 13, 2011 10:40 AM #3
Victor Zuniga
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - San Diego, CA

This is where having someone proof read your stuff can be of great help.

Mar 13, 2011 10:42 AM #4
John Woodward
Sarasota Real Estate Group - Sarasota, FL
Broker - Sarasota Real Estate

I know, how true.  I am not the best of writers but I have found it's best to put it down and come back later.  You find those errors spell check could never find...(or is IT Ewe fine those air or spell Czech could never fine.)  :))

Mar 13, 2011 10:44 AM #5
Mary Stewart
HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone - Wilsonville, OR
Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas

Marte,  nice reminder post.  The "stop sign" words you listed are so commonly misused and/or misspelled. I also agree that many of the misspellings are caused from typing too fast and not proofing when done.  I have one of my best friends sitting on my desk always ready to help me, by the name of Dictionary.  Spell checker does not always catch the "stop sign" words because it does not know the intent of what you are trying to say.

Mar 13, 2011 10:50 AM #6
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Marte--What a wonderful reminder.  Take the time, go back, double check, look it up, use the spell checker.  I always ask my husband to read my blog posts before I publish them--another set of eyes never hurts. 

Mar 13, 2011 11:27 AM #7
Donna LaConte
KELLER WILLIAMS, Waynesville, NC - Sylva, NC

A M E N !!!  


 Donna LaConte, REALTOR, Adams, Cameron & Co., REALTORS

Mar 13, 2011 01:00 PM #8
Diane Mora
Keller Williams Chino Hills - Chino Hills, CA

And for heaven's sake, people, it's a "dining room", not a "dinning room"! (See that all the time on the MLS...)

Mar 13, 2011 01:58 PM #9
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

You have been reading the comments in our local MLS again, haven't you?  LOL  Good reminders!

Mar 13, 2011 04:27 PM #10
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kristine - How did I miss add those to the list? I see "to" used as "too much" ALL the time.

Justin - You have good women in your life - watching out for you!

Colleen - I agree. Sometimes our fingers get tongue-tied. That's especially true with the ones like "interest rats."

Victor - Proof readers are valuable people. The problem is, unless we pay for them, they aren't always available.

John - Setting it aside for a while is always a good idea. I try to do that when I'm writing copy for a client, and I almost always make changes before sending off the work. Your last sentence reminds me of when people take my articles and put them through an article spinner before re-publishing. When I wrote about my husband, a retired home builder, it came out "old bag builder."

Mary - That's exactly right. Spell check doesn't know what you mean. And if you use grammar check, it can sometimes lead you astray.

Janet - You're fortunate to have a husband who is willing to be your proofreader!

Donna - Thanks.

Dianne - Yep, there's another one I missed. And how about those "refridgerators?"

Susan - No, but I've been reading agent blogs and websites!

Everyone makes a mistake or a typo now and then, but if you read blogs and websites and see certain people make the same errors over and over again it's a pretty good clue that they don't know the difference between those words. The trouble comes when they don't know that they don't know - so don't realize that they have something to learn. (I think a good friend should tell them.)

Mar 13, 2011 06:54 PM #11
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

I've noticed a whole slew of misspellings lately & it's aggravating. Depending on the errors I won't reblog a post that sounds like a 3rd grader wrote it.

Mar 14, 2011 07:59 AM #12
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Lyn - I agree. A re-blog is an endorsement.

Mar 14, 2011 08:08 AM #13
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Marte, thank you for making us aware of so many traps in English language. These little errors make a big difference in a way we are perceived by our readers. Have a great day!

Mar 14, 2011 11:39 PM #14
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Elizabeth - Traps is a good name for them. And considering how difficult it can be for American-born citizens who have been using English all our lives, I really do have pity for people who are trying to learn English as a second language. With all of our words that sound alike and all of our words that can have several meanings it must be frustrating.


Mar 15, 2011 06:43 AM #15
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