Canadian Government Language Resources

Did you know that the Government of Canada and its Translation Bureau provide Canadians with a website with free language resources? The Language Portal of Canada features writing tools, quizzes and links to help citizens improve their English and French.

For example, to verify whether the word “government” needs capitalization or not you can type “government of Canada” into the language navigator to find your answer.

University students may want to know about this one-stop window for their queries because of the site’s collection on academic writing tips.

Click on the “+” next to Writing Tools in the menu bar on the left to discover useful links, such as Writing Tips. Here you can find out about how to write addresses on parcels and the latests Twitter terminology. (Really! You’ll learn that gazouillis is the French equivalent of the word tweet.)


Make the RIGHT WORDS work for you

“The duck jumped over the fence, the feet before the tail,” was one little boy’s answer to an assignment to use the following words in a sentence: deduct, defence, defeat, and detail. Or that’s what the joke claims. Well, when you WRITE, you’ll want to use the RIGHT words. Here’s a list of confusable word pairs (such as right & write). They are listed in alphabetical order. Check out the cool sources at the end!

A teacher asked his students to make a sentence with the following words: deduct, defence, defeat, and detail. And here’s the answer little Johnny gave: “The duck jumped over the fence, the feet before the tail.”

When you WRITE, you’ll want to use the RIGHT words. Here’s a list of confusable word pairs (such as right & write). They are listed in alphabetical order according to the first and second word (so each pair appears twice):

A: a & the; accept & except; ad & add; add & ad; affect & effect; ate & eight; aural & oral.

B: bail & bale; bale & bail; band & banned; banned & band; brake & break; bread & bred; break & brake; breath & breathe; breathe & breath; bred & bread; buy & by; by & buy.

C: can & could; canned & can’t; can’t & canned; could & can; cue & queue.

D: dear & deer; deer & dear; desert & dessert; dessert & desert; dew & do; diagnosis & prognosis; do & dew; during & while.

E: effect & affect; eight & ate; eminent & imminent; emit & omit; eye & I; except & accept.

F: faint & feint; fair & fare; fare & fair; feint & faint; flew & flu; flu & flew; for & since.

G: gage & gauge; gauge & gage; grate & great; great & grate.

H: have to & must; heal & heel; heel & heal; hear & here; here & hear; higher & hire; hire & higher.

I: I & eye; imminent & eminent; imply & infer; incidence & incident; incidents & incidence; infect & infest; infer & imply; infest & infect; infested & invested; inflammable & inflammatory; inflammatory & inflammable; innocence & innocents; innocents &  innocence; intense & intents; intents & intense; invested & infested; its & it’s; it’s & its.

J: jam & jamb; jamb & jam; jewel & joule; joule & jewel; judicial & judicious; judicious & judicial.

K: know & no; knew & new; knit & nit; knot & not.

L: laps & lapse; lapse & laps; lay & lie; liable & libel; libel & liable; lie & lay; loose & lose; lose & loose.

M: mail & male; male & mail; may & might; many & much; me & myself; meat & meet; meet & meat; might & may; miner & minor; minor & miner; much & many; must & have to; myself & me.

N: new & knew; nit & knit; no & know; not & knot; nutritional & nutritious; nutritious & nutritional.

O: obsolescent & obsolete; obsolete & obsolescent; omit & emit; oral & aural; oral & verbal.

P: pair & pear; peace & piece; peak & peek; pear & pair; peek & peak; piece & peace; presence & presents; presents & presence; prognosis & diagnosis.

Q: queue & cue; quiet & quite; quite & quiet.

R: rain & reign; reign & rain; right & write; ring & wring; root & route; route & root.

S: seam & seem; seem & seam; should & would; since & for; so & such; soar & sore; sore & soar; such & so.

T: tail & tale; tale & tail; than & then; the & a; then & than; that & which; their & there; there & their; to & too; too & to; to & two; translucent & transparent; transparent & translucent; two & to.

U: used & used to; used to & use.

V: vain & vein; vary & very; vein & vain; verbal & oral; very & vary.

W: waist & waste; waste & waist; which & that; while & during; who’s & whose; whose & who’s; would & should; wring & ring; write & right.

Y: yoke & yolk; yolk & yoke; your & you’re; you’re & your.

• Morrison, Elizabeth. The Right Word: Correcting Commonly Confused, Misspelled, and Misused Words. Pompton Plains: Career Press, 2014.
ESL Tower Grammar Quizzes.
• Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
ThoughtCo. Lifelong Learning.

Why you may want (or need) a proofreader

Most writers are blind to their own mistakes. That is why they can benefit from a second pair of eyes–qualified eyes. When your spelling and grammar are corrected and your arguments are presented in a logical fashion, your reader will appreciate the quality of your work.

Let’s say you wrote, “The advertising campaign attracted new costumers.” That’s clear, right? But wait, if you meant customers (clients) there is a typo, unless the customers are also costumers (people who provide theatrical costumes).

Even a small issue like this can take the reader’s attention away from your content to think about the language issue, instead. A decent proofreader will catch the error and leave the reader with a good impression of your writing skills and professionalism.

Colette van Haaren offers proofreading and copy-editing services. She has an eye for detail and tends to catch typos because she reads with scrutiny. In a former career she has had more than 50 articles published in Canadian newspapers, magazines and on the web. Colette is Dutch, works in English, and speaks four languages.

Contact me via this site’s contact form if you would like to hire me. Please include a small sample of your text. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.