Full Circle Communications

 July 2011


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ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.


5 Common Word Mix-Ups   


PlasticLettersI marvel at how non-native English speakers handle our homophones (too/to/two), pronunciation (rough/through/though/ought), and other linguistic eccentricities.


Even we native speakers have our challenges. Here are five that have bedeviled clients, colleagues, and me in recent months. (Please excuse the bizarre examples.)

1. Discrete/Discreet

"Discrete" means separate or unconnected. "Discreet" means tactful or careful to avoid upsetting or embarrassing others.

Example: He had two discrete ways of dealing with his children, but he was very discreet not to let on about the two systems.

2. Born/Borne 

"Born" means brought into life or begun. "Borne" is the past participle of the verb "bear"; when related to birth, it's used when the mother, not the infant, is the subject.

Example: She had already borne a son when Lulu was born in 2005.

3. Defuse/Diffuse 

"Defuse" means to make something less dangerous or tense. "Diffuse" means to spread or scatter.

Example: He defused a tense situation when he cracked a joke. Suddenly, good will was diffused throughout the crowd.

4. Compliment/Complement 

"Compliment" means to praise. "Complement" means to complete or perfect something.

Example: She complimented me on my new shoes, telling me that they complemented the rest of my outfit.

5. Principle/Principal 

"Principle" means a theory, standard, or way of working. "Principal" means primary or most significant.

Example: Her principles are the principal reason she cannot get involved in the project.

Summer Reading


What are you reading this summer? If you're casting about for a suggestion, here are a few books I have read and loved so far in 2011: 



The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein 

A family's tale, through the eyes of Enzo the dog.   


My Name Is Mary Sutter, Robin Oliveira 

Civil War Washington, through the eyes of a would-be female surgeon. 


Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo 

Growing up in a small town in upstate New York, this one through the eyes of one of its most loyal residents. 



Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee 

A "biography of cancer"--research, advances, and disappointments in very layperson-friendly terms. 


Discovery of Jeanne Baret, Glynis Ridley 

Jeanne Baret, a self-educated botanist, circumnavigated the globe on a French ship  in 1780, disguised (sort of) as a man. 


Pearl Buck in China, Hilary Spurling 

How Pearl Buck came to be part of the country where she grew up. 

What Do You Have Going On?

Do you have a book, website, or blog to share with other readers?

Do you have a question related to writing or editing I can cover in this newsletter, or suggestions about how I can make future issues more useful to you or your colleagues?

If so, please let me know.

Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0349