Justin Tadlock

B is for "because" because "because" is used badly

Part B of the writing well on the Internet series

I’ve searched every inch of my brain to come up with something to write about on the letter “B.”

There are not as many common mistakes with this letter as “A,” but I’ve put together some material to browse. For this new edition of the The ABCs of Writing, I’ll walk you through a few common errors that begin with the letter “B.”

Because / because of / due to

Anyone can make a mistake with these words when writing and look over it when editing. Do not use “because of” or “due to” because they contain unnecessary words. In general, always use “because” because it’s much simpler. You can sometimes use the phrase “because of” effectively. You might have to make a judgment call.

Other phrases to watch out for:

  • because of the fact that
  • due to the fact that
  • owing to the fact that

He died because of his sister’s boyfriend.
He died because his sister’s boyfriend hit him with a hammer.

“Because” can be a powerful word when writing. When you use it in sentences, they have more credibility. For example, if you’re telling your readers to read an article you found, tell them why.

You should read “How to Lose a Girl after Three Dates.” (Bad)
You should read “How to Lose a Girl after Three Dates” because the writer lays out the rules for dating in a readable and entertaining article. (Good)

Believe

This is a commonly misspelled word. It’s also one of those times when the “i comes before e,” which is a rarity in the English language.

I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I believe I can soar.

Use the phrase “I believe” sparingly. If you’re writing it, then a reader can assume that you believe it. A good exception to this rule is when talking about beliefs themselves (possibly religion). Also, avoid “I think.” Removing “I believe” from your sentences makes your writing more effective. It makes it stronger. In addition, you omit needless words.

I believe Britney Spears is the dumbest person ever. (Less effective)
Britney Spears is the dumbest person ever. (Effective)

Even when writing about religion, you can make your sentence stronger.

I believe that God, the angels, and heaven exist. (OK)
God, the angels, and heaven exist. (Stronger)

Blog

There’s a way to misuse the word “blog”? Yes, there is. If I only had a dime for every time I read a blog post or heard it used incorrectly in casual conversation, well…(Also, avoid clichés when writing.)

Blog is short for the word “weblog.” The only time you can use it as a noun is when you’re referring to a blog itself, which includes all of the blog’s posts. You cannot use the word to mean “blog post.” They are not interchangeable. “Blog” can also mean “to write an entry into a weblog” — blog, blogging, blogged.

I wrote a blog about raccoons and orgasms today. (Wrong)
I wrote a blog post about raccoons and orgasms last night. (Right)
I blogged about raccoons and orgasms this morning. (Right)

Bibliography

While writing a bibliography doesn’t necessarily apply to blogging, it never hurts to learn. I won’t write a tutorial on this because that would warrant an entire post, maybe several posts. Instead, you can read How to Write a Bibliography - Examples in MLA Style. It looks like a good reference for nearly any type of bibliography. You never know when you might need it.

Commonly misspelled words beginning with the letter B

  • balloon
  • barbeque / barbecue
  • basically
  • battalion
  • beautiful
  • beggar
  • beginning
  • benefited
  • bicycle
  • Britain
  • broccoli
  • Buddha
  • bureau
  • burglar
  • business

Bartleby.com

This is a great reference site for anyone that’s serious about his or her writing. It has encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, and much more. You can probably bookmark their site and forget all about reading this tutorial series.

The preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge.

- Excerpt from Bartleby.com

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations

Buy 'Bartlett's Familiar Quotations' from Amazon.com

A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is a good book to add to your library. Why not reference the greatest writers of all when looking for some inspiration or an easy way to explain something? This book is something you should not go without. If nothing else, impress your friends by putting it on the coffee table beside your photography book. Seriously, it’s a great read.

Final thoughts:

This edition of the series was a little shorter than the last, but that was expected because there aren’t as many errors with the letter “B.” I’m sure there are mistakes in this post, and I urge you to find them. This is as much a learning tool for me as it is for you.

Subscribe to the feed to know when I write about the letter “C.” I have quite a few ideas on it.