Inclusion: Inclusive writing III

June 26, 2003: Issue 63

SIM STYLE: Proud to be American
Part of practicing inclusive writing is realizing that our readership extends beyond the borders of the United States. Phrases such as “across the nation” or “in this country” put subtle barriers between you and your Canadian readers.

If what you’re saying applies to readers in Toronto just as much as it does to readers in Toledo, find a way to say it without limiting your scope to the States.
exclusive: We Americans love our machines.
inclusive: Our society loves machines.
exclusive: Long popular in Europe, the trend has hit America in a big way.
inclusive: Long popular in Europe, the trend has hit North America in a big way.

Note: Be careful with statements of fact. When reporting figures from a study of American homeowners, for example, we can’t change “American” to “North American” if the study didn’t include Canada. Let the facts be what they are, but report them in a way that doesn’t exclude any reader.
exclusive: Kitchens and baths are the most common remodeling projects in this country.
nonexclusive: Kitchens and baths are the most common remodeling projects in the United States.

For more information, see Issue 11 and Issue 33.

GRAMMAR: Is it sugariest or most sugary?
You may have seen this question asked recently in good fun by an SIM editor. (Let’s call her D. Steilen to protect her anonymity. No, that’s too obvious; let’s try Debra S.)

It’s actually a great question about degrees of adjectives and adverbs (known as comparatives and superlatives), and the rule is incredibly easy to remember.
For one syllable words, form the comparative by adding “er” and the superlative
by adding “est.”
correct: clean, cleaner, cleanest; soft, softer, softest
For two syllable words, use your ear. You may add “er” or “est,” or you may precede a word with “more” or “most” (or “less” or “least”). Do what sounds best.
correct: happy, happier, happiest; complex, more complex, most complex
For words with three or more syllables, use “more” and “most” (or “less” and “least”).
     correct: luxurious, more luxurious, most luxurious: sugary, more sugary, most sugary.

Back to Style on the Go Archive
Back to BHG Stylebook Table of Contents