Ten Common Language Errors in Real Estate Listings

July 22, 2014


There's no end of real estate listings here at We see them day in and day out, and we notice a few word errors that creep in often. These are words or phrases that your grammar and spell check might easily miss, because they're right in some cases and wrong in others.

A US survey from this spring found that listings written in full sentences with no spelling or grammar mistakes see sales an average of three days faster than sloppier listings, and those sales are 10 per cent more likely to come in over asking price. So proofreading definitely pays.

We've collected our top 10 confusing words that we see most often used incorrectly in listings. See if you would have caught all these:


Words often used wrong in real estate listings.


How to use

Criteria/Criterion There's no such thing as "a criteria." The word is plural, so the sentence should read "What are your criteria for paradise?" If you're just talking about one, you'd say "a criterion."

Memory Aid If the noun ends with a, the verb starts with a: " criteri a a re."

Premiere or premier--memory aid

Premiere/Premier Premiere, with an e on the end, means the opening of a show or exhibition, with many to follow. It's pronounced "prem-YAIR." For something that's first ranked or top rated, you want premier , with no e on the end, pronounced "PREEM-yer" (like the premier, or first minister, of a province).

Memory Aid For "first-ranked," pronounce the first syllable.


Architecturally designed If someone who graduated from architecture school sat down and designed this house, then it's an architect-designed house. All buildings are architecturally designed. That just means that they conform to the rules of architecture.

Memory Aid Who designed this place? An architect!

Principal or principle memory aid

Principle/Principal Should be principal rooms . These are the most important ones, just as the principal is the most important person in a school. Principle is a noun that means an underlying law or assumption, as in, "It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing."

Memory Aid For principal rooms, think "princi-palace" or "princi-palatial."

Compliment or complement--how to choose the right one

Compliment/Complement If something goes well with something or enhances it, it complements it (with an e in the middle). To compliment(with an i) means to say something flattering to or about someone. The adjective complimentary means "free."

Memory Aid E is the difference, and to compl e ment is to e nhance.

Everyday or every day--how to choose the right one

Everyday/Every Day When it comes to time, every day is two words. Everyday as one word is an adjective that means commonplace or unremarkable: "I have a set of everyday dishes, but I don't use them every day."

Memory Aid How often? (Two words.) Every day. (Two words.)

Plurals don't need apostrophes

Plurals Plurals don't have apostrophes. When you turn one into more than one, just add the s or es and you're done. Really. It's that simple. Those quartz things in the kitchen are countertops .

Memory Aid The plural of apostrophe is apostrophes, with no apostrophe.

Its or it's, which is correct?
It's/Its It's is a contraction, or a shortening, of it is. The apostrophe stands in for the missing letter and space. The possessive (belonging to) its has no apostrophe. Confusing, we know, because most possessives do use an apostrophe, such as "Jamie's room." But its is an exception, like hers, ours, theirs and yours.

Memory Aid Before you add an apostrophe, substitute "it is." "The master suite on main has it is own deck?" No, that doesn't work, so no apostrophe.

A lot is always two words, never alot.

A lot This should be two words. Always. Memory Aid It's two words. Don't even ask.

One word or two for phrasal verbs?

Checkout/Check Out Is this an action or a thing? Checkout(one word) is a noun. You can put a or the in front of it. Check out (two words) is a verb, an action. There are dozens of examples like this, so for instance, "I like to check out the magazines at the checkout, log in to the login and cut off distance using the cutoff."

Memory Aid Can you change the tense of the verb: checked out, logged in, cutting off? If so, it's two words because it's an action.

If you have any more words or phrases you're not sure about, leave a comment and we'll be happy to help.

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