Tag Archives: learning

Adapt or adopt? Adaptation or adoption?

This is a Troublesome Pair that I find very commonly in academic writing, across a whole range of writers. It would be expected in people whose native language doesn’t use vowels (I had a very interesting conversation about Arabic-speakers having trouble with vowels in English) but I also find it in native English-speakers (it’s actually fairly uncommon to find both groups making the same errors)

To adopt something means to take it on as it is. For example, Laura might adopt my process of editing a text, then doing a spell check, then using software to check consistency. If the UN adopts a resolution, it means it takes it into its procedures as it is, with no changes. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, you take it as it is.

To adapt something means to change it according to specific circumstances. For example, Laura might adapt my process by choosing to edit the text, then run the consistency software, then run a spell check. The UN might adapt a resolution to take into account a new world order or the creation of a new country. You might try to adapt your adopted dog’s behaviour if you don’t want it to sit on the sofa.

Adoption therefore means the act of taking on something as it is, while adaptation involves you changing, or you changing something else, to fit the circumstances.

In academic writing, a researcher might well adopt a questionnaire method, but they might adapt someone else’s questionnaire if it needs more questions on widgets and fewer on bath mats, for example.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!


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Aglet or ferrule?

DictionariesThis is a cheeky one. Of course you all know the difference between these two lovely words. But I like them, and it’s my blog, and you never know who might look things up (even “mandrel or mandrill” is quite popular).

An aglet is the little tube that you find on the end of your shoelaces, usually made of plastic but sometimes of metal. Sweetly, it apparently comes from the French for “little needle”, even though it doesn’t really look like or act like a needle in itself, but is used to help you thread the lace through the holes.

A ferrule is the little plastic or rubber cap that sits on the end of a walking stick or umbrella and prevents it from getting damaged.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on October 6, 2015 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Curb or kerb?

DictionariesHere’s one suggested by my friend and editing colleague, Linda Bates. As a special bonus, it has a US / UK English twist. How exciting!

A kerb is a noun meaning the stone edging of a pavement or path. There are some verbs associated with kerb, notably kerb-crawling, which is driving slowly on the lookout for a prostitute.

Curb is a noun meaning a limit or control (“I’m imposing a curb on the amount of alcohol you can drink at home”) and a verb meaning to keep in control or limit (“I’m curbing the amount of alcohol you can drink at home”). A curb is also a type of bit used in a horse’s bridle.

And, excitingly, American English uses the same word (curb) for both!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Altar or alter?

DictionariesHooray, I seem to be doing these posts more regularly again now. They have lots of fans, so hope regular readers are pleased. Of course, if you’ve just found this post having searched for “altar or alter”, you’re going to be a bit confused by that statement, as you’re visiting from way in the future. This “Troublesome Pair” is but one of a whole series of them I’ve been posting for a few years now. Do pop to the links at the bottom of this post to find the whole alphabetical list of them!

Right, anyway … alter or altar?

Altar is a noun and refers to specifically the table in a Christian church, usually at the front, where the bread and wine are consecrated for communion, and more generally, to any flat-topped box or table that is used as the focus for some kind of religious ritual.

Bonus pair: What’s a shrine, then? A shrine is a place that’s regarded as being sacreed or holy because it’s associated with some kind of god / deity, or a reliquary or container containing holy relics. So you do religious things at an altar and a shrine keeps them safe.

Alter is a verb meaning to change (or change something or cause something to change) in appearance or character. In US and Australian English, it also means to castrate or spay an animal (so many bonuses today!)

“After she observed the seriousness of the actions performed at the altar, she altered her behaviour in church and stopped giggling during the services.”

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Hanger or hangar?

DictionariesHooray, it’s time for another Troublesome Pair (for any new readers, this was a series I used to run that I’ve recently restarted). This is another one suggested by my Australian friend Matt Patten, as he spotted an example just the other day.

A hanger is something that you hang something from – a clothes hanger being the obvious example.

A hangar is the big shed that an aeroplane lives in.

Nothing more I can say, really!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Expectancy or expectation?

DictionariesFor those who’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the Troublesome Pairs series I used to publish regularly. They’ve been very popular, and I certainly haven’t run out of them, but I didn’t seem to get the time to do them. But I have some more coming up, and here’s the first one! This one was suggested by my Australian friend Matt Patten, who’s asked me to write about a few Troublesome Pairs recently (and not so recently) .

I have to admit that this was one of those that I had to look up to check. But there is a difference (hooray) and it’s all about the level of certainty …

Expectancy is the anticipation or hope that something will happen – and that something is usually a pleasant something. It also refers to a future prospect, as in “life expectancy”. Expectant, the adjective, as we might imagine, means anticipating or hoping that something (pleasant) will happen – so you have expectant mothers, etc.

Expectation is the strong belief that something will happen – not necessarily positive. You can expect a storm or an inheritance (and in fact, someone’s “expectations” is an old-fashioned term for their prospects of inheritance.

“It was my expectation that the expectant mother would soon be seen travelling around with a pushchair.”

Note: nobody associated with this post is expectant!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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MailChimp 5 – linking to your sign-up form on Facebook and your website

After publishing my article on how to create a sign-up form, I had a query about how to publicise it. This article tells you how to find the URL for your sign-up form in order to promote and link to the sign-up form in various places on the Web, including your own website, Facebook, etc.

Why would I want to publicise my MailChimp sign-up form?

You can have the best form in the world, but if you don’t share it, no one will sign up. Places to promote and share your sign-up form include …

  • Your website and / or blog
  • Your email signature
  • Your company Facebook page
  • Posts on your company Facebook page
  • Twitter
  • Your LinkedIn profile or updates

How do I find the URL of my MailChimp sign-up form?

The key to all of this is to find the URL or web address of your sign-up form. Every one has it, but it’s hard to find. Here’s how you do it.

From the first page of MailChimp, when you’ve signed in, click Lists:

Go into MailChimp list

Then, choose the list whose sign-up form you want to promote (like me, you probably only have one) by clicking on the link:

Mailchimp choose list

Now click on Signup forms:

Mailchimp signup forms

Now you will find a list of ways to create a form which does not look like the right place. It IS the right place.

Incidentally, if you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will find ways to create a sign-up form embedded in a Facebook page or on a tablet, where people can enter their details directly. Both of these options walk you through the process.

Mailchimp special forms

For the moment, we’re looking for that URL, so scroll back up and click on General Forms (which is where you created your sign-up form in the first place):

Mailchimp general forms

Although it really doesn’t look like this is the place to go, I know, here you will find your URL!

Mailchimp signup URL

You can copy and paste this URL and put it anywhere on the Web.

In addition, this page also has little icons for Facebook, Twitter and QR. These will just generate a link for you (if you’ve linked your MailChimp account to Facebook and Twitter for sharing purposes). Clicking on the Facebook icon will give you this post ready to pop on your Facebook page:

Mailchimp auto facebook post

How do I share my MailChimp newsletter sign-up form on social media and my website?

Now you have the URL which links to your sign-up form, you can add that link anywhere you want.

  • On your website, you might do as I have (look right!) and add a link to the sign-up form to your menu. In, you can choose Appearance – Widgets and create a Text widget. Then use HTML coding to add a link, for example <a href=”YOURURL”>Sign up for my email newsletter! </a>
  • In your email signature, use your email service to add a line to every email you send, again, you will probably need the coding above.
  • On Facebook, use the embedded form mentioned above, or do a post including the URL and “pin” it to the top of your Facebook page
  • Everywhere else – share the URL and get people flocking (maybe) to your sign-up form.

In this article, we’ve learned how to find the URL or web address of your MailChimp newsletter sign-up form in order to share it on the Internet, and talked about how and where you can share it. You can find a growing set of articles on blogging, social media MailChimp etc. in my resource guide.

Do click on the share buttons below or comment if you found this article interesting or useful!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

MailChimp 1 – Signing up

MailChimp 2 – Setting up your list and importing contacts

MailChimp 3 – Creating a sign-up form

MailChimp 4 – Designing your newsletter template

How to avoid two common mistakes when using MailChimp


Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Business, Marketing, New skills, Newsletters


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