The Difference Between Complacent and Complaisant

It’s easy to mix up these two words, but there’s a world of difference in their meanings. Complacent means self-satisfied or smug and derives in part from the Latin verb placere (to please). Example: He felt complacent about his excellent examination results. Complaisant, on the other hand, means eager to please or obliging.  An example … Read more

Say What You Mean

One of the most influential teachers of writing was Rudolf Flesch. I encountered him through an out-of-print book called On Business Communications, formerly titled Say What You Mean. Only later did I discover that he also wrote the 1955 educational critique Why Johnny Can’t Read. His other titles include The Art of Plain Talk, The … Read more

A Novel IS Fiction

I’ve noticed that some people talk about “fiction novels.” A novel IS fiction. One can talk about writing a novel OR about writing fiction. To combine the two is to wear a belt with suspenders. (Another example of reluctance to let the word do the work.) In writing terms, fiction is any non-factual narrative composition. … Read more

English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know

Just ask a friend what is the role of prepositions within sentences, or what are the four moods of verbs, and I am sure that you will see a puzzled look on his face. Understanding the basic grammar rules is essential for communicating efficiently, but most of us have forgotten those concepts years ago. In … Read more

Word of the Day: Bourgeois

Bourgeois (bʊr-zhwä’) is an adjective that refers to people who own property. The collective noun for such people is bourgeoisie. In the terminology of economics, the bourgeoisie is the opposite of the proletariat which is made up of the laboring class. In popular usage bourgeois describes a conservative attitude towards life that values conformity to … Read more

The Scandinavian Connection

A chance remark by a Swedish friend about English loan words in Swedish set me on the trail of borrowings of Swedish origin that have entered the English language. There are a few common ones: angstrom – a unit of length named after a Swedish scientist flounder – a type of flat fish gauntlet is believed … Read more

Five Reasons Why Blogging Leads to Writing Jobs

Daily Writing Tips has already covered Five reasons why blogging improves your writing. But once you’ve polished up your skills, and grown used to writing frequently and receiving feedback, blogging can also help you get paid for your writing. 1. It’s a free (or very cheap) way to self-publish your writing Posting your writing on … Read more

How to Address Your Elders, Your Doctor, Young Children… and Your CEO

Sonia asked us for tips on writing effective office emails, especially when addressing medical doctors, CEOs, your elders (those older than you), and your “juniors” (those younger than you). Should your salutation be, “Dear Bill,” “Dear Dr. Williams,” “Mr. Ramirez:” or “Hi Bob”? If you’re as old as me, you were never taught in school … Read more

Short Story Competition: Fifth Batch Is Open for Voting!

First of all let me address one problem that we had over the last batch. One of the stories had more than 500 (something like 700) and some readers were wondering and complaining about it. It was my fault and not planned. Basically I was trying to stream line the process of uploading the stories … Read more

Cockney Rhyming Slang

Cockney Rhyming Slang has been moving around the world, thanks to the popularity of East End gangster movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and many others. It’s a series of words and phrases used by Cockneys and other Londoners. Originally, a Cockney was someone born within the area where they could hear … Read more

Definitely use “the” or “a”

When to use the indefinite article a and when to use the definite article the depends mostly on how specific you want to be. During a wedding ceremony the groom would say, “Give me the ring! The wedding ring!” because he must have a particular ring, while a carpenter would say, ‘Hand me a nail” … Read more