Just a pet peeve

I’ve blogged in the past about people who set themselves up as writing consultants or experts, and then make careless grammatical errors in their own blogs or Web sites. I ran across another one this morning, the first mistake in the actual marketing statement for this consulting business. Honestly, are you going to hire a writing consultant who doesn’t know the difference between compliment and complement? I realize there are people out there who don’t know there are in fact two separate words, with unrelated meanings (I corrected a document here at work one day, the author had no idea there were two distinct words), but for cripes sake, if you’re going to bill yourself as a writing consultant you had better be dit-perfect (as we used to say in the Navy, a reference to “chasing ditties,” i.e., copying Morse code).

Here’s an excerpt from the marketing blurb on the front page:

My help begins with my consulting services for the Internet, allowing you to market your business everywhere online. If you want complimentary help, you can also ask for my services in writing and virtual assistant work, allowing me to give you the best in assistance and helping you to get everything you need to build your Internet presence and your business!

I could be wrong, but I’m reasonably certain the second definition in Merriam-Webster for “complimentary”: given free or as a favor, is not what was intended. Perhaps when people start trying to take them up on it they will realize their error. I found the next error in the first line of the blog post, a misworded expression. This is particularly notable since the post in question is internet writing tips for beginning writers. The fifth “tip” is to do a grammar check — using a grammar-checking software program. I hope most writers know better than to rely on those things.

I should probably just be amused by these things, mostly I just want to slap them.


11 thoughts on “Just a pet peeve”

  1. It is funny that the person drew up such an advertisement with mistakes in it. Perhaps if said person had used their own eyes, they would have caught the complimentary/ complementary mistake. That’s a perfect example why one should not rely on spellcheck.


  2. I’d like to give the writer the benefit of the doubt, but based on past experience and the rest of the blog, I would say the writer doesn’t even know there is another word. This is at least the third one of these I’ve run across. Another one I found awhile back was a blog of someone who claimed to have many years experience in the publishing industry, as an editor, and his sub-title on the blog was something about having “been in publishing to [sic] long.” Maybe he’d actually only worked in the mailroom, I dunno.


  3. The to/too drives me crazy. Your/you’re, their/there. I mean complimentary is bad but the other ones are so simple. I see these from University graduates no less. I understand I work in the business world but what were these people learning in school for over 16 years?

    Confession: I once broke up with someone because of bad spelling and grammar. Granted I was younger then but it wasn’t just that things were constantly wrong, it was his cavalier attitude towards getting it right that made me think we could not be compatible. So I understand your wanting to slap someone. My sympathies!


  4. Ha! I won’t date someone who appears to be illiterate. I figure he has no interest in books, or literature, so we’d be at opposite ends of the spectrum and have very little (if anything) in common. As with the complimentary/complementary issue, precision of language can be oh so important. If that business isn’t actually offering free services I wonder if there could be legalities involved?


  5. Maybe they just want to compliment you? Okay, that was silly but I couldn’t resist. Yes, they are such different meanings. Either way you look at it — free or praise, it does not work.


  6. It wasn’t just callow youth, Venus – you were right to break up w/that guy. Either a person takes pride in his language, or he doesn’t -you would have never been happy w/somebody who wasn’t.

    I read about the the “complimentary help” and thought about an editor who just doesn’t believe in constructive criticism:
    “wow, that was just swell; don’t change a word! Your [sic] just a terrific writer, y’know? It’s a joy just too [sic] read this stuff!”


    1. Heehee, and they’re out there! Normally I don’t pounce on people who make errors. It’s just the ones who try to pass themselves off as some kind of subject matter expert (and aren’t) that irritate me.


  7. “It’s just the ones who try to pass themselves off as some kind of subject matter expert (and aren’t) that irritate me.”

    Darn tootin’. When I mention that I teach college English, people always start apologizing for their english, and I always say the same thing – I don’t correct grammar on my days off. But if some subliterate blowhard starts throwing his/her weight around, the gloves are off…


    1. I hear the most atrocious grammar at work all day long, and never say anything to anybody. And I mean people with MBAs. If I like the person (;) ) I may take them aside before a big meeting and say, hey, don’t say “her and I talked”. In other cases I like to watch them embarrass themselves in front of people who I know know better. (one manager in particular sort of makes up words)

      I know, I’m evil. It’s a gift 😉


  8. Personally, I’m with Venus on this one. I think they should offer “complimentary services.” I would pay to have somebody give me daily compliments, in fact. That would be awesome. “You’re writing extremely well this morning, darling. And by the way, that hairstyle just suits you.” Maybe we’ve stumbled across an internet service that would actually pay.


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