Writing Tips

Grammar and Usage

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Three More Words Many Writers Misuse

Deciding between "Imply" and "Infer," "Discreet" and "Discrete," "Comprise" and "Compose"

"Comprise," "discrete," and "infer," when they mean "compose," "discreet," and "imply."

"Comprise" cannot substitute for "compose"; it is never followed by "of."

All GooseDown USA insulation products are comprised of are composed of materials purchased from American sources.

Note: Some grammarians equate "comprise" with "include," but be careful: A fielded soccer team might "include" four midfielders, but it "comprises" eleven players. In the example above, if GooseDown USA uses materials solely from American sources, here is the better way to rewrite the sentence:

All GooseDown USA insulation products are comprised of comprise materials purchased from American sources.

"Discrete" means separate, distinct, like layers in igneous rock or a rainbow cake. "Discreet" describes someone prudent, perhaps circumspect.

Had the defendant been more discrete discreet by siphoning less cash each week, the accounting systems would never have detected her scheme.

Only a writer or speaker can "imply"; only a reader or listener can "infer."

I imply infer from his response he has no intention of settling.

Fair or not, when we misuse words like these, clients, colleagues, and judges wonder if they can trust the rest of our thought processes. The opposite is also true: When we use them correctly, others pay attention.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.