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Word Nerd - FANBOYS

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 4, 2020
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2020

Do you know Cherie Tucker? She’s a grammarian whose claim to fame (one of them, at least) is getting Seattle’s Nordstrom stores to correct all of their signs from “Childrens shoes” to “Childrens’ shoes.”

The Seattle Chapter has hosted Cherie as a speaker a few times, and she’s also presented for SDA National (we love the grammar/writing knowledge she shares!).

One of the things that Cherie helped me remember was the use of commas in independent clauses. An independent clause is one that can stand on its own. Like this: This sentence is an independent clause, and you should insert a comma after clause. That’s a two-part sentence that contains the conjunction “and.” The second part of the sentence (you should insert a comma after clause) is a full sentence on its own. If both parts of the clause — joined by a conjunction — can stand on its own . . . it’s an independent clause.

What a lot of people do though, is not insert a comma before the conjunction in their independent clauses. Did you know that you should add a comma before each conjunction in that case?* (Note: It depends on the context; you might consider a semicolon instead.)

Here’s where Cherie came in and helped me remember all of the conjunctions, and thus the use of commas in my independent clauses. She calls the conjunctions “FANBOYS.”








If I have a FANBOY in a sentence, I know to stop and test whether I have any independent clauses. If I do, I know to insert a comma (or a semicolon) before the FANBOY. Will you?


*Tons of sites that back this up. For example:




Judy Beebe, FSDA is our resident Word Nerd.

She currently serves as the SDA Seattle Chapter President


Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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Word Nerd: Yay, Yea, and Yeah

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2020

Amy Nanni, CDFA (SDA NY) dropped me a line about a future Word Nerd post saying, “I have seen many well-educated people write yea when they mean yeah or yay. Though not commonly used in office communications, they are commonly used in conversation and misused in email.” When I told her that’s an awesome suggestion, her response was, “Yay!”

Did she use yay correctly? Yes, she did (she knows better).

When Amy dropped me that line about those three words, I could have responded with something like, “Yeah, well; I don’t know if I have the time to submit another Word Nerd.” But I didn’t. But if I did, what I would have been saying and meant was, “Yes, well; I don’t know if I have the time to submit another Word Nerd.”

For you well-educated people – here’s the skinny on those three words, along with some examples of them in use.

·       Yeah is a very casual way of saying Yes.

o   If someone asked, “Did you mean to do that?” And the other replied, “Yeah, I meant to do that.”

o   If someone said, “You told me you’d have that deliverable ready to send to the client by 3:00 PM on Tuesday.” And the other replied, “Yeah, I did tell you that, but I have a perfectly good excuse for not meeting your deadline. The Graphics Department took a really long lunch and didn’t send me the tables and figures until after 3:00 PM!”

o   You pronounce yeah with a short A sound, the same sound as in the word “at.”

·       Yea is pretty much used during voting; it’s a yes vote.

o   “All those in favor say Yea. All those opposed say Nay.”

o   You pronounce yea with a long A sound (rhymes with nay).

o   It’s common among texters to text back “Yea” when they mean Yes. (You might even get back “Ya” – yikes!)

·       Yay is used when you’re excited or happy about something.

o   When Judy told Amy she liked the suggestion, Amy showed her joy by jumping up and down while screaming “Yay!”

o   You pronounce yay with a long A sound.

So, yeah [yes], if you want to appear well-educated (Amy would like that), be sure you know when to use yay (are you excited or happy about something?) or yea (are you voting yes on something?).

Amy knows how to use them correctly. Here’s what she said after she reviewed the draft of this Word Nerd: “So yeah, I vote yea and celebrate with a ‘Yay!’”




Judy Beebe, FSDA is a member of the SDA National Membership

Committee and serves as the 2020 Seattle Chapter President.

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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Word Nerd: Price versus Cost

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 23, 2019
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2019

I manage the Seattle Chapter’s events on its website and if one has to pay to attend one of our events, I also have to set up the mechanism to allow people to pay for the event. And that brings me to this: Do I set the attribute as “Your Price” or as “Your Cost” – that is, which word will be displayed when one goes to pay for one of our chapter events: Price or Cost?

I had been setting up the payment page using Your Cost.

Then Seattle member Kurt Wong, CDFA, told me the correct way is to display Your Price instead.

I’m like, “Okay, but does it really matter?”

And you know what? It does matter.

If you’re the person registering for a Seattle chapter event, for example (insert shameless plug here ;o>) this event that’s coming up: Are you more likely to say to yourself something like, “What’s my price to attend this event?” Or, do you say something like, “How much does this cost to attend?”

I tend to lean toward the latter (whether that’s right or wrong).

As the person who is creating the payment page on our chapter website, I also tend to think, “I need to tell them how much this is going to cost them to attend.” So I had been displaying Your Cost on the payment page. My perspective was this: I’m telling the person who is paying that the chapter’s cost is X, without looking at it from the viewpoint of the person who is paying, which would be their price.

Kurt’s way prompted me to learn a little bit more, so I clicked the Difference Between link he sent, which basically says that the two terms shouldn’t be confused with each other, and that the two terms are often switched in normal conversation.

Kurt was right; we really should be using Your Price on our website’s payment pages. (And to add even more value – because that’s what SDA members do, you know – Kurt suggested I remove “Your” from the payment page to tidy up the page to make things cleaner and better aligned.)

Leave it to another SDA colleague to help set things straight . . . thanks, Kurt!




Judy Beebe, FSDA is our resident 'Word Nerd'  and

serves as the 2019-2020 SDA Seattle Chapter Vice President.


Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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Word Nerd: Is it advice or advise?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2019



If you can remember that advise is a verb and advice is a noun, you shouldn’t have trouble using those two words incorrectly. And another thing: The s in advise is pronounced like a z. The c in advice is pronounced like an s.

So what’s the difference between the two words?

When you are telling someone what you think they should do, or if you are informing someone about something in a formal way, use advise.

When you are offering guidance or recommendations to someone, use advice.



  • SDA National advises all members to read the SDA Code of Ethics.
  • The chapter president advised its officers to read the chapter bylaws and standing rules.
  •  [Language copied from SDA’s white paper template. In the last sentence, I switched out “recommended” for “advises.”] The contents of SDA White Papers are considered the opinion of the author.  SDA does not endorse any products or services mentioned, and SDA does not assume responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the interpretation, application, use or misuse of any information presented. SDA advises the reader to consult the appropriate legal, financial or human resource counsel before implementing information contained herein.
  • Let me give you some advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just worry about what you can control within your circle of influence.
  • SDA members are tremendous source of information, and they can offer business advice in the areas of HR, finance, project management, marketing, and general office administration.
  • I need your advice on the projector you think we should buy for the office.




Judy Beebe, FSDA is a member of the SDA National Membership

Committee and serves as the 2019-2020 Seattle Chapter Vice President.

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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Word Nerd: Is it Assure, Ensure, or Insure?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Word Nerd:  Is it Assure, Ensure, or Insure?



There is a difference between assure, ensure, and insure. In my experience, the more troublesome words are ensure and insure. Ensure has to do with making sure something’s going to happen or not; insure has to do with purchasing some type of insurance to recoup some loss of something. Assure means you will promise something.


Can you use them in a sentence, please? Why yes, I can; here are some examples:

  • I know I haven’t attended the last two Membership Committee meetings, and now that my workload has lightened, I can assure you that I will attend next week’s meeting.
  • You said we gained two new members last month for a total of 40 members in our chapter. I can assure you that’s not correct, and here’s why: Even though our membership list shows those as two new members, I checked and HQ said it has not yet received their membership fees. So they are not official members until HQ receives their payment, which may or may not happen this month; thus we only have 38 members in our chapter.
  • The company announced the new phishing button will be installed within the week. “We want to ensure that employees have an easier way to report suspicious emails, and the PhishAlarm plug-in from Microsoft Outlook will do that for us. It will forward the message to our IT Service Desk and auto-delete the message from the employee’s inbox,” said the company’s president.
  • To ensure we increase our chances of gaining more chapter sponsorship, Jim has agreed to reach out to all of his associates in Washington.
  • Before we hold the A/E/C Scavenger Hunt, we should insure the Board of Directors for up to $100,000.
  • Now that HQ has a permanent location to work from, please insure the building with extra hurricane coverage.

For more about these words, Merriam-Webster is a good place to start.

Bonus info! Did you know that two of these Word Nerds are on the red flag list, according to AXA XL (formerly known as DPIC - Design Professionals Insurance Company)? Back in the day, SDA handed out a bookmark (from DPIC) that said, “Think twice before using any of the following red flag words in your contract!” Assure and ensure are on that list.



Judy Beebe, FSDA is a member of the SDA National Membership

Committee and serves as the 2019-2020 Seattle Chapter Vice President.

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Word Nerd 

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