Oh those pesky word pairs...

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

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:Is this word right or wrong?

  • 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 them.

When something complements something else, it means they go well together. "That frame really complements the painting." "Her new hair color complements her skin tone."

It can also mean "a full crew."

To remember the difference, think "I like to give compliments." Use the word with the "i."

Lose and loose are misused so often here on Active Rain that it's commonplace – but it's still misuse and it still destroys the meaning of a sentence.

When you lose something, you've lost it. The reason could be that it came loose and fell off – but then again it could be that you just put it down and don't remember where. Or, in the case of losing a client, it could be that they wandered off to some other agent.

 

Loose is the opposite of tight.

You diet to lose weight, then your clothes become loose.

Device and devise are really far apart in meaning.

The word "device" is a noun. While it generally refers to a gadget or a tool (such as your computer or cell phone), it can also be a scheme or a procedure.  

The word "devise" is a verb meaning to plan, conceive, or invent. For instance: "We need to devise a plan to …" "Jerry devised a method for…"

 

How to remember the difference? Try thinking of ice in device. Ice is a device for cooling your drink. 

Remember - not all of your clients know the difference between these words, but some of them do. When you use the wrong one, those who know will get a bad impression of you. If nothing else, they'll think you don't pay attention to details

Remember also - the whole reason for writing is communication. When you use the wrong word, communication suffers. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments (76)

Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Laura Cerrano As long as we keep learning, we're doing fine. 

Sham Reddy In grade school I learned enough French to count to ten and learned the same for Spanish in high school - but languages were never a priority. I do admire those who are multi-lingual. And yes, there is no end to the words people get confused!

 

Dec 25, 2014 04:05 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Debbie Reynolds And if you did, they probably wouldn't understand why you sent it. Many who don't know simply don't know that they don't know. I write primarily for those who are unsure, but want to be sure. 

Dana Hollish Hill Such as my children - they should know because I've been nagging at them about it since they were old enough to write, but for some reason there and their just don't click in their minds. 

 

Dec 25, 2014 04:09 AM
Gina Chirico
Lattimer Realty - Fairfield, NJ
Real Estate Agent - Essex County, New Jersey

I have to be honest affect and effect get me all the time and I actually google it when using it in written communications and sometimes I still think I use the wrong "pair"! Thanks for the reminder!!

Dec 25, 2014 12:44 PM
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

Marte Cliff I see these type of things all the time but the only one I ever corrected was my son.  We go so fast today.  Not only word pairs but the lack of punctuation drives me crazy.  I often wonder where the sentence begins and ends.  Happy Holidays!

Dec 25, 2014 06:45 PM
Susan McCorkindale Pearmund
Homestead Realty - Warrenton, VA
Realtor, Author, Autism Advocate

I'm with Debbie Reynolds. It would be wonderful to be able to send your post anonymously to several people I know. Great job!

Dec 25, 2014 10:06 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Gina Chirico As long as you question yourself and look it up, you'll get it right. And one of these days you'll have looked it up so many times that you'll automatically know which is correct.

Elyse Berman, PA, ABR, GRI, Realtor I agree. How are you supposed to know what someone is talking about when they skip the punctuation? 

 

Dec 26, 2014 12:28 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Susan McCorkindale Pearmund You could always print it out and put it in an envelope! 

Dec 26, 2014 12:29 AM
Patty Da Silva, Davie, Southwest Ranches Cooper City, Plantation, Weston, REALTOR
BROKER of Green Realty Properties® - 954-667-7253 - Davie, FL
Top Listing Broker

Excellent blog Marte. Thanks for sharing. Hope you and your family have a wonderful year ahead.

Dec 26, 2014 01:12 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Patty Da Silva, Davie, Southwest Ranches Cooper City, Plantation, Weston, REALTOR Thanks Patty - a joyful and prosperous New Year to you and yours as well. 

Dec 26, 2014 03:05 AM
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

Marti:

Thanks, as always you make sure that we are producing blogs that are grammatically correct.  Keep it up.  Tomorrow we will use lose when we mean loose again.  Happy New Year.

Dec 26, 2014 06:23 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Evelyn Kennedy I'm nothing if not a consistent nag! Happy New Year to you too! 

Dec 26, 2014 06:33 AM
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

Many people do lose it when they lose something!

Dec 26, 2014 06:45 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jeff Jensen So true! 

Dec 26, 2014 07:28 AM
Doyle Davison
Hawaiian Beaches Hawaii - 714-968-6767 - Huntington Beach, CA
30 years as your Concierge services listing broker

Oh Marty... You catch one of my spelling errors.

Dec 27, 2014 08:49 AM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I often get messed up with principle/principal.

Fully aware that my pal is the school is the principal. But are all other iterations then to be principle?  (as in the main cause, or as in the spirit of my intentions?)

The beauty of this language, while it is a work of art, there are a few little glitches that I always need to be cautious about.

 

Dec 28, 2014 12:52 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Marte Cliff 

Loose/lose is the pairing I always have to stop and think about, for some reason. I type with 4 fingers and two have minds of their own typing words or mispelling them even when my brian pictures them the correct way. =:o)

Dec 28, 2014 11:36 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Claude Labbe So true - I can't even imagine learning this language as an adult, since we have so many different meanings for words that either sound or are spelled the same. A few years ago I was writing articles for EzineArticles.com and every now and then someone who didn't know the language well would take one of them and put it through a spinner. The results were sometimes hilarious - and sometimes even a bit obscene. 

 

Dec 29, 2014 01:27 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Doug Dawes Just say them out loud, prounouncing the two o's - then you'll hear the difference and know which to use. 

Dec 29, 2014 01:29 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Marte Cliff  - That is how I approach it. 

Dec 29, 2014 04:10 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Doug Dawes That's how I approach most things in writing. If it doesn't sound right, then I stop and either re-write the sentence to get rid of the word I'm unsure of, or I do the research. Our ears are good tools!

Dec 29, 2014 05:05 AM