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I write in Portuguese with confidence. Then I started to get confidence writing in English. Then I got confident enough to start writing a newsletter with writing advice in English [0]

Then someone in HN commented in one of my posts "I don't trust any writing advice from someone who thinks "certificated" is a word" lol

That killed most of my confidence of writing in English and I gave up the idea of having a newsletter.

[0] https://writingfordevelopers.substack.com

Comments like that are such bullshit. Nobody is perfect. Surely that person has made plenty of mistakes in writing (so why should we take any stock in their dissenting comment?). One small mistake doesn't make you any less qualified. The fact that you're actually doing it makes you 100x more qualified than someone who doesn't have any experience doing it.

English is my native language and I write a popular blog. My blog won a web award and a W3 writing award, so you could say that a number of industry professionals believe that I'm a decent writer. That said, I fucked up once and swapped lightning/lightening in one of my posts and I got a very similar comment to yours.

Those comments may have a tiny bit of truth - that you got something wrong - but the rest of them is bullshit; because, if we didn't trust experts who make small mistakes, we couldn't trust anyone at all.

I really like this sentiment, because it's absolutely true.

As I wrote elsewhere: If someone isn't willing to write constructive feedback/criticism and they're reaching for the low-hanging fruit of insults and disparaging remarks, nothing they've written is worth reading. Ignore it and move on. Learn from it if you have to, but it isn't worth any further mental effort--much less going so far as to let it knock the wind out of your sails and stop posting!

The FAA deliberately uses "certificated" as opposed to "certified" when referring to pilots and flight instructors.

It insists that conveys a distinct and useful meaning because they don't certify pilot quality. Instead, the pilot has been issued a certificate confirming that they passed a test to a particular minimum standard. The reason for the difference is to convey that there is no assurance or guarantee that the pilot consistently and continuously meets this standard. Unlike with a "certified used car", the FAA is not going to be held responsible if your pilot crashes your plane.

Reference: I am an FAA-certificated Flight Instructor and Commercial Pilot.

[Edit: typo, thank you lkschubert8]

I prefer this particular word sense.

Personally, it would inspire more humility about what a certificate means and my ability to consistently apply the knowledge behind it. It gives pause immediately as I consider things I could apply it to.

The two quoted words "x as opposed to y" are the same word. I assume that the latter should be "certified".

The best thing you can do for yourself is ignore comments like that on the internet, or simply treat them as constructive feedback. Meaning, ignore the "I don't trust any writing advice" and just note the typo, fix it, and move on.

That's what I did. But even if consider my advice to be mostly "language agnostic", i.e. not about grammar and orthography, I am pretty sure the recurrent small errors and weird phrasings undermine my reputation as someone that could teach the reader something

If you're upfront about it, it's fine.

If I'm reading a piece by an author whose 1st language is not English, I'll make adjustments in what I think mistakes say about them. Most readers will. And I'll be focusing on content and ideas and glossing over sentence details.

It can be even be a positive, "This is impressive writing for a non-native speaker..."

If, on the other hand, you are trying to pass yourself off as someone with the same command as a native speaker, I'll be turned off.

Maybe, but even native speakers have small errors and weird phrasings.

Whoever thinks you can’t teach them because of a small typo probably wasn’t going to learn anything anyway.

> I am pretty sure the recurrent small errors and weird phrasings undermine my reputation as someone that could teach the reader something

I'm living and working in London and English is not my native language. I'm doing lots of grammar and orthography mistakes every day. They really don't matter as long as I'm able to get my point across. That's all it matters. Even if someone was in the position to tell me that they don't trust me, I would leave BUT I would go somewhere else, I wouldn't go back to my home country.

Well maybe the above doesn't completely fit your case, I just wanted to share my 2 cents.

OS: I have been writing in my tech blog in English the past 5 years. Often times I'm catching my self reading my older posts and just can't stand them. They are awful. :D

On the other hand, you can be almost completely incoherent and still become president. It's all about what you offer your audience.

That's probably sort of true, but that would only undermine your reputation with a minority of your readership. And over time your grammar/phrasings etc would improve.

You could speed it up by having an editor review your work and that way you can also have confidence your reputation isn't going to be undermined.

I think a very small minority would call me out on that small mistake, but a significant number of people would kind of feel the same way.

Having an editor would definitely help! Good idea to think about. Just not sure if a free blog is worth investing that money.

It doesn't necessarily have to cost money to get someone to offer a second pair of eyes. Could be a friend or interested party. You could add an attribution "Edited by <name>" so they get something out of it perhaps.

It's pretty common amongst webnovels, translations, and fanfiction for an editor to help out and get attributed.

I think tools like Grammarly can help solve your problem with grammatical/spelling errors. Why not give writing another try?

People who make those comments are rarely fluent in more than one language. I'm a native speaker myself but the grammarly extension catches me slipping every now and then.


Yeah not native and Grammarly is god sent. The only big minus is that it will send all my writing to the cloud. Is there similar but less intrusive addons?

Whether something is a word or not is not binary. "Kdqroeisjxjdoeo" is most definitely not a word. "Dog" most definitely is. "Adorbs" is probably considered not a word by many. I say it is one.

Language changes constantly. It is created by speakers, not by some external authority. Anyone giving the correction "that's not a word" likely has a misguided understanding of the nature of language. A word is something speakers say and hearers understand. New words are made every day and old words fall out of use every day. That's just how language works.

See also complaints about using "literally" to mean "figuratively". The sense of the word is changing to include what was previously its opposite. This is neither the first nor last time that will happen.

Advice on language usage should always be contextual. "Adorbs" is fine on Twitter, probably not a good idea in a contract. As others have pointed out, "certificated" has use in many contexts. Even if it wasn't in known use, the meaning is clear and this kind of pieced together with prefixes and suffixes jargon is quite common these days in technical or semiformal writing.

For what it's worth, I just subscribed to your newsletter. I read your last couple of posts and I think they're great.

Native speakers don't have exclusive rights to give advice on how to communicate. I really hope you'll keep writing.

Thanks, that was nice. I will think about it

"certificated" follows the rules of English phonology [0] and we all understand what it means. To have been certified with a certificate.

Congratz, it's a word.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_phonology

Well you are correct as per oxford dictionary[0] . I got a similar from someone for the word "architected". In my opinion its best to ignore and carry on.


> "I don't trust any writing advice from someone who thinks "certificated" is a word"

Viewing the world that way is its own punishment - if they're too lazy to evaluate advice on its qualitative merits and feel the need to latch on to petty ad-hominem criticism of spelling and grammar then they don't deserve the potentially valuable information that they've left on the table.

Conflation of personal judgement for critical evaluation is probably a theme in their life.

To my ear, certificated sounds like a technical term describing a web server after you configure it to support https.

Really? To mine it sounds like a compound describing how someone with a Java EE certification just defecated all over our code base. ;)

To me, it sounds like a direct transliteration from the native language to English. In Lithuanian, "certified" is "sertifikuotas" which is way closer to "certificated" than "certified."

Certificate is commonly used as a verb in the United States in education. I've personally heard and seen the phrase "certificated teachers" in California, Washington, and Texas. I've never seen the phrase "certified teachers" anywhere.

I think the usage may stem from the legal requirement for teachers to hold an actual certificate prior to being employed. I think it is different from "certified" in that no organization is attesting to anticipated performance, instead merely indicating that some past effort happened.

For example, a law school graduate is certificated, but not certified or licensed. They could go around claiming they are "certificated in law" without breaking the law.

I don't know if lying to the commenter is in his best interest.

One who has obtained a certificate is "certified", not "certificated" in layperson English. It's stilted English to say "certificated", even if technically correct.

Obviously it's not reasonable to trust/mistrust someone who makes this mistake, but the nugget to pull from this is that "certified" has a meaning and use in English.

Certificated is definitely a valid word, though perhaps not in "layperson English". In (Commonwealth) legalese, share holdings are referred to as either uncertificated or certificated.

It appears that certificated is a word at least according to 1913 Webster


I found the same on googling it. But to be honest it was just the Portuguese version of the word misleading to this form, rather than a profound knowledge about its accepted variations in the last century.

Maybe. But something to keep in mind is that the person who called you out has issues and most likely should be ignored. Who talks that way to others in an honest discussion?

> misleading to this form, rather than a profound knowledge

This doesn't sound native either.

"that person has been certificated"... I mean english is funny, and that could have been right anyways.

You could have said certified. For what it is worth.

I'm a native English speaker, and published author, and I f* up English all the damn time. Keep writing!

Oh dear. Confidence is such a fragile thing is it? Whish I had confidence as a muscle to train it every day.

Confidence can be trained as a muscle every day: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Six-Pillars-of-Self-Esteem-Au...

People are weird... don't take it personally and focus on the crowd that appreciates your writing!

Certificated is a word but it’s a British word and what would they know about English?

I think this is a story that's supposed to make the reader feel bad for you, and it does, but not because someone was mean to you.

I feel bad for you because you couldn't handle the inanity of the Internet. You're going to need thicker skin if you want to find success, because people will always cut you down, doubly so if you're on the right track.

This is golden advice, especially the last bit.

It sounds mean, and maybe it could be phrased nicer (minus the "I feel bad for you" part), but it's not wrong. All socially interactive sites online will eventually attract people who attack someone doing a service, as in the case of the OP, and they will do everything they can to insult you, make you feel bad, or generally fling all manner of dirt in your direction. Worse, if you stop doing what you're doing you're essentially giving them exactly what they want: Stop posting.

The best solution is to continue. Double down if need be. Learn something from it and move on. In fact, if the OP really wants to get back at them, continuing to write is probably the best way forward. Hell, find someone who would be willing to edit your work. Also, recognize that mistakes will be made. Multi-million dollar publications with dozens of editors on staff sometimes have glaring mistakes slip through the process. There isn't much more you can do as a solo writer without hitting diminishing returns in the pursuit of perfection. Judging by the comments, it looks like the "mistake" wasn't, which makes this situation even more absurd, and the willingness to give in even more so!

Ultimately, just recognize some people are toxic. And like diminoten said: They will always cut you down. If someone isn't willing to offer constructive criticism, or take the time to write it, nothing they've written is worth reading. Treat it that way.

Amusingly, I had something similar happen to me on social media recently over my use of the colloquialism "performant" that's often used here on HN (and plenty of places elsewhere--just search Wikipedia for some examples). Except in this case, it's not a word. Rather than do what they want (I'm not sure what that would be), I doubled down. They weren't adding anything to a technical discussion (and admitted they knew nothing about the subject matter), so I politely told them that if they wanted to interject with anything, to keep it on topic. They didn't. I persisted. They blocked me. Sometimes the problems solve themselves, but it's important not to let them dissuade you from enjoying what you're doing.

You HAVE to be a bit more aggressive. It's not easy (I know, trust me), but in this case, the OP is doing something that sounds like it's beneficial to a lot of people. Don't stop doing it because of one jerk. If you do, we're all worse off.

Thanks for your view. Since you wrote it in a nicer and more elaborate way, let me properly reply.

I think you (and the GP) got it wrong that what made me stop was having someone being rude to me on the internet. The lack of confidence is because I know that there were and there would be for a long time a lot of mistakes in my writing. And my blog is about writing of all things, which makes those mistakes worse. What affected my confidence was not that the commenter was rude, was that he/she was right

The comment about the word "certificated" was correct in its spirit. Even if there are arguments to say that it might a word and could be technically correct in some form, I did want to write "certified". I even edited my post.

I have noticed published mistakes myself and had private and much nicer feedback about other mistakes before. That was the confirmation that I actually do a larger number of mistakes than a native speaker.

The free blog is one of the things that I do and lacking the confidence that I could do it well enough, I decided to stop doing it and go for other things. I had several nice comments here that can make me reconsider my decision, including yours. As for GP, it was not helpful or correct, it was just arrogant and presumptuous.

I understand, and it's difficult to deal with criticism when it's both rude and correct. However, it's important to consider how something is said is just as important as what is said. Take my OP for instance: I still think they're correct, at least partially, but how they wrote the first half was perhaps too brash. (I don't know if that's how diminoten intended the statement to be interpreted.)

The reason I say this is because, quite frankly, if you hadn't taken what was said personally, internalizing it as thus, you would still be writing and none of this conversation would have taken place. You disagree, and I understand; however, recognize that as an outsider looking in, I think you're too dismissive of the impact this interaction had on your work (you stopped writing). It doesn't matter whether the person was right or wrong: The fact they said they didn't trust you because of a single mistake was demeaning.

For what it's worth, I still stand by what I said earlier: If someone isn't willing to write constructive criticism, preferring to resort to negative language or insults, then nothing they say matters. If they're right, they're right, but the best you can do is just ignore the negative sentiments and move on. It's not easy. You'll second guess yourself (as you're doing). And you know what? That's fine! You'll be more cautious next time, and you'll have the added confidence that you can deal with similar responses in the future (I'm serious).

To put it another way: It's not so much that the individual in question was correct that dinged your confidence--it's how they said it. I'm almost certain had it been written differently you'd have thought nothing more of it; e.g. "Hey, I think you meant to write 'certified' rather than 'certificated.' Just thought I'd let you know."

Think for a moment on that. If this were written instead, would you still feel your confidence had taken a hit? I'd wager not!

Chin up, my friend. If an asshole is right about something, it doesn't make them less of an asshole--they're just an asshole who happens to be right.

I think you are still interpreting this from the wrong angle.

> "If this were written instead, would you still feel your confidence had taken a hit? I'd wager not!"

I certainly would. Actually, I did. My confidence had already taken hits before from nicer private feedback I got before.

I also disagree that I should dismiss everything that an asshole is saying just because they're an asshole, even if they are right. I take what is right, improve my text and forget about them being an asshole.

I once got the advice that my target group should be the ones deciding if the quality level of my work is good enough, not myself. If they see value in what I do, I'm good. I still will strive to improve further, but there is no reason to stop, as long as people like my work.

Therefore, focus on checking that your regular readers are enjoying what you write, instead of focusing too much on actual or perceived weaknesses.

I want to reply as one of the people pushing the "actually, certificated is a word" line.

I think perspective here is important. While anything that a speaker and hearer agree has meaning can be considered a word, there is definitely a separate matter of blending in to a particular linguistic context. I wouldn't deny that.

But I do think it's important to remember that what you're doing is trying to blend in to a particular linguistic context... not trying to be right instead of wrong. In some English contexts, "kindly do the needful" is a normal, unremarkable phrase. In others, it barely registers as English at all. In some, you can rent a flat when you go on holiday. In others, it's an apartment and a vacation.

Regardless of context (to my knowledge), we talk about a "building site" not a "building place", for no apparent reason.

There are no reasonable criteria by which any of those phrasings can be considered "wrong". They just don't sound natural in some (or all) contexts. But when you consider this perspective, things get muddy quickly because language usage varies so much. Like... I would say your sentence "I have noticed published mistakes myself and had private and much nicer feedback about other mistakes before." would sound more natural with "have" added... "I have noticed published mistakes myself and have had private and much nicer feedback about other mistakes before." But I can't say a native speaker would never say it the way you did, so what do we take from that? Probably any piece of writing can be improved, whether by a native or non-native speaker. At what level do we say the speaker sounds native? It's just all very muddy.

It's not even clear who gets to count as a native speaker. Is someone who grew up speaking Indian English in school but a different language at a home a native English speaker? Their accent and word choices will make very clear they aren't a native speaker from an "English speaking country" (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), but... English is an official language of India and spoken every day by millions of people there. Is someone who grew up in Amsterdam and learned English in school from childhood and has used it extensively as an international / business / default fallback language for their entire adult life a native English speaker?

Nothing with language is black and white. If your goal is to be understood and to have the fluency to express interesting ideas with nuance and clarity, then you're already there. Are there tells that you aren't as high up on the "native" spectrum as others? Yes. But if I applied the same critical eye to my own writing after 5 years when I've forgotten it was me who wrote it, I could probably find things I would perceive as non-native there too.

So basically I'm just trying to say... your skill in English does not in any way appear to be an impediment to using the language effectively. While there are things which could make you sound more native, those aren't a matter of right or wrong English... they're a matter of word choice / phrasing that sounds more familiar to the context you are speaking into.

Don't feel bad for me and your supposition is wrong. Your assumptions for my reaction are also wrong.

Methinks I'm less wrong than you realize, if this is your reaction.

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