JS Tip 107: From the Writing Workshops: More Quick Questions, More Quick Answers

What about interreact? Is that a word? (Catherine Burns)

It’s not in any of the dictionaries we looked at. Even Google asked us, “Did you mean to search for interact?”

Use interact. Shorter. Simpler.

When is it appropriate to use contractions? Would not, should not, and could not versus wouldn’t, shouldn’t and couldn’t? (Carol Oman)

Tone. That’s what does it. The tone of the document drives the train. Most business documents should have a friendly, personable tone. With those documents, you should use contractions.

More formal documents (a brief to the Supreme Court or a warning to a recalcitrant worker) drop the contractions. These documents are stricter. Less casual. Less friendly.

What’s the correct usage for the words regard and regards? (Donna Irish)

The singular regard substitutes for about in phrases like with regard to or in regard to.

We’re writing in regard to your overdue library book.

We’re writing about your overdue library book.

Use about. It’s shorter and simpler. 

The plural regards means best wishes. George M. Cohan asked his friends to “Give my regards to Broadway.”

You can say the same thing with “Say ‘hello.’” It’s shorter and simpler. Tony Montana invited his guests to “Say ‘hello’ to my little friend.” 

Next week: We’ll ask your opinion about a new customer-service practice.