Posted by: episystechpubs | September 26, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Word Clipping

Good morning to you! Last week we talked about words created by back-formation (adding or removing a part of the word to create a verb from a noun, for example). Today, I want to discuss a related topic: clipping. I’ve written about this subject before, but today, I’m going to discuss two specific clipped words that turn perfectly happy verbs into unhappy nouns.

First, to remind you, word clipping occurs when you abbreviate a word: for example writing demo instead of demonstration. Yes, most people know what demo means, but in business writing, which is slightly formal, we avoid clipping words (we also avoid contractions). The kind of clipping I’ll discuss today clips a noun to make it shorter; the problem is that the clipped word already exists as a verb.

You want some examples? I’ve got your examples right here!

· I will send you an invite to my fabulous pool party.
(Invite has been clipped from the noun invitation.)

· We will compete the install by Tuesday afternoon.
(Install has been clipped from the noun installation.)

This kind of clipping is a bigger faux pas than regular clipping because clipping these words doesn’t only make them shorter—it changes the word’s “part of speech” (the categories we assign to words: like nouns, verbs, and adjectives). The words invite and install are verbs. They are things you do, which makes the usage in the bullets above grammatically incorrect. You cannot send an invite, you would send an invitation; and you cannot complete an install, you would complete an installation.

I know, I know, a lot of people use invite and install as nouns. I hear it all the time. A lot of people text when they drive and chew with their mouths open, too. (Wow, that sounded just like my mom!)

Oh, and one more thing while I’m on the naggin’ wagon, the word ask is a verb. So, although you might hear others say, “That’s a big ask,” if you want to be grammatically correct, you should say, “That’s a big question” or “That’s a lot to ask.”

Enjoy your week!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

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