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Polish and professionalism in writing are critically important. This could not be truer for immigration evaluation therapists as our writing forms an integral part of our practice’s brand and image. If you don’t get the basics of spelling, grammar, and style correct in your evaluations, you risk distracting readers from your message.
You can think of proper spelling and grammar like the bass guitar in a song. You don’t notice it when it’s there, but when it’s missing, something just feels off.
In this two-part series, I’ll walk you through some tips for writing polished and professional evaluations. We’ll start by covering common spelling errors and misused words. Next week, I’ll give you some tips on writing with the appropriate tone, formatting, and style in your evaluations.
While most word processors now include spell-checking features, many of us have grown blind to the red squiggle warning us of our writing follies. To help you, here are ten common misspellings to watch out for in your evaluations.
According to Business Insider (Abadi, 2018), this is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language, and it’s one that’s bound to come up in your evaluations. Remember, you need two ‘C’s and two ‘M’s.
The rule ‘I before E except after C’ has a lot of exceptions, but this is one case where the rule stands.
The ‘AI’ in maintain switches to an ‘E’ in maintenance.
Like ‘accommodation,’ this is another word with tricky consonants. You need two ‘C’s and one ‘S.’
While ‘alright’ is gaining acceptance in British English, it’s still not considered technically correct in American English. Stick to ‘all right,’ and you’ll be all right.
Not ‘buisness.’ I remember this one by pronouncing it literally in my head as ‘busy-ness’ — which certainly goes hand-in-hand with business.
Another word with tricky consonants. This one requires one ‘C’ and two ‘S’s.
Until recently, this word was spelled as ‘untill,’ but not anymore.
Not ‘definately.’ Remember the word ‘finite’ to help with this one.
Follow the correct spelling and avoid ‘publically’ making a mistake.
Commonly Confused Words
Next up are pairs of words that sound similar but are often spelled differently and mean different things — or homophones. While we’d hope that those reading our evaluations will take our words at face value, unfortunately, mixing up your homophones can result in ambiguity.
The first is a flattering remark. The second refers to when two things match or go well together.
One of the most commonly mistaken homophones. Remember, the purpose of the apostrophe in ‘you’re’ is to combine the two words ‘you’ and ‘are,’ forming a contraction (e.g., “Do you know where you’re headed?”). In contrast, ‘your’ signals ownership (e.g., “May I borrow your pen?”).
Similarly, ‘it’s’ combines the words ‘it’ and ‘is’ (e.g., “It’s trying to get away!”). In contrast, ‘its’ signals ownership (e.g., “The dog is chasing its ball.”)
While the British will nod in approval at ‘learnt,’ in American English, ‘learned’ is the preferred spelling for this word.
Use ‘than’ when you want to make comparisons (e.g., “After reading this blog post, my writing is better than it was before”). Use ‘then’ when you want to indicate a sequence of events (e.g., “Once you’ve read this blog post, then you can stop worrying about your writing”).
Again, whereas the British won’t mind ‘towards,’ stick to ‘toward’ in American English.
‘Loose’ is an adjective, such as when your tie becomes loose. ‘Lose’ is a verb, such as when you lose an important paper from your desk.
Stationary means staying still. ‘Stationery’ refers to the paper you just lost.
Lay is a synonym for ‘place’ or ‘put.’ That is, you lay an object down. In contrast, ‘lie’ means to recline (or tell a false tale).
‘Historic’ refers to something famous or important. ‘Historical’ refers to something related to history (e.g., historical records).
Needless to say, it’s essential to get your words right when you’re writing about a client’s early rites.
Even if you don’t remember all of the distinctions and spellings discussed here, hopefully, this post will help you recognize the words that require an extra moment’s thought when you’re putting pen to paper. Additionally, remember to minimize your risk of errors by creating a writing environment that facilitates full concentration (more on that here).
Join me next week for more tips on writing with the appropriate tone, formatting, and style in your evaluations.
Until then, happy writing!
Abadi, M. (2018, August 24). 27 incredibly common spelling mistakes that make you look less intelligent. Business Insider.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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