Most writers either use these two words indiscriminately or simply choose cooperation without even reflecting on the alternative collaboration.
The main difference between the two words is that collaboration involves people working together towards a shared goal, while cooperation implies somebody working to support somebody else’s goal.
As a copyeditor, I work with the author of a text. The author wants me to make sure the manuscript is in fluent English without any linguistic or factual errors. (You can read here about how I work.) The author may ask for comments on a certain passage and I may want clarification of what the author intends. I can suggest an alternative formulation. Our shared objective is an article that deals with an interesting topic, has perfect language and format and is of such a quality altogether that it can be accepted for publication. That is collaboration. Collaboration is teamwork requiring mutual respect, trust and adaptability.
In my job as a copyeditor I may come across a word that is totally unknown to me. I can then call an expert to ask about that word. For example, I once called the coast guard to ask what word they used in a certain context. Thanks to their cooperation I could achieve my goal – to use that word correctly.
Should you have a hyphen or not? The answer is here.
Perhaps some writers hesitate to use the word collaboration since it has a less agreeable connotation. A collaborator is someone who helps an enemy that has occupied their country in a war.
Are you disinterested or are you uninterested? If you are not sure about the difference between those two words, you are not alone. Many writers find it difficult to distinguish between them.
If you are disinterested, you have no stake in the actual matter, you are impartial or neutral. It is understandable that this word is often used in legal or business contexts.
Can we take it for granted that the judge in this case is truly disinterested?
You should use uninterested if you mean that someone is bored or not engaged.
How can we catch the attention of uninterested students?
Chances are that you will find disinterested used where you would expect uninterested. Not surprisingly, the two words are often confused. But you, as a good writer of English, will of course make the distinction.
The two words later and latter look similar but there is an important difference that you should know.
Later modifies a verb, which is why we language nerds call it an adverb. It refers to something happening after a certain time. Let’s go to the cinema and then we can go to the pub later. Their best known product was introduced much later.
Later is also an adjective; it modifies a noun: I prefer his later work, especially the large paintings. Can we discuss this at a later date?
There are a few collocations with later: Sooner or later they will succeed. See you later! Later on in the film, they get married.
Latter usually refers to the second of two persons or things. We can talk about the former and the latter. I have listened a lot to I’m Your Man and Tower of Song and I must say I prefer the latter. Would you like red or white wine? – The latter, please.
Latter can also refer to something being nearer the end. The company went global in the latter part of the 1990s. The full name of the Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Perhaps you are a doctoral student planning your thesis. Or you are a professor writing a book or a research paper for an international journal. Maybe you have written a manual and feel that the language is not exactly what you would like it to be. Or you just want to have your CV or a cover letter checked for errors.
What I can do for you
In this blog you will get useful tips on writing in English. Through my long experience as a copyeditor I have learnt the typical errors that writers make and what linguistic problems they often meet.
I will also tell you about resources that will enhance your writing. Whether books, apps or websites, they will help you write much better.
So, if you want to read my blog, scroll down and you will see my blog entries starting with my latest text. You can also choose a topic from the list in the sidebar on the right or search for a specific word.
And when you feel that your text needs copyediting, send it to me
On my other pages here you can learn about how I work and read comments from some of my many satisfied clients. And if you decide to let me copyedit your text, you should read my advice for writers.
The CEO of a Swedish multinational firm was once asked what language the company used. The answer was, “Bad English”.
Most users of English are non-native speakers and, not surprisingly, the language used is often, as the Swedish manager put it, bad English.
What’s the problem?
Communicating in a second language often involves ambiguity and misunderstanding and can eventually lead to serious problems. An example can be found in the sentence you just read: The English word eventually means in the end, finally, sooner or later, while the Swedish word eventuellt means possibly, potentially.
Can you connect with your readers? Bad English may prevent you from being published. And if you manage to be published in spite of language deficiencies, your readers will doubt your professionality. Poor language will make them lose interest in what you are trying to say; they may even mistrust your message or simply not understand it.
The difference between good and bad English is crucial. My role as copyeditor is to make sure that bad English is transformed into good English. I do so in close collaboration with you, the writer. Together we will make you a better English writer. We are on the same page!
You are welcome to visit this site again and again. Or, better still, why not sign up for my newsletter? Then you will know when there is something new to read on this page, something that will make you a better English writer.
My posts will, I hope, be your stepping stones to better writing.
Note: When there is an asterisk (*) in front of a word or a phrase in my posts here, it means that the word or phrase is wrong or not accepted language. You can find examples here, here and here.
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