Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

Big decisions – it’s time November 18, 2012

Recently, I had been feeling sad and somewhat trapped by my life. I had to do something to change this. All around me, I was witnessing people making major life decisions, difficult ones, separations, quitting their job to pursue a dream, giving up things that were part of their lives, shaking things up and, not only feeling better about themselves as a result, but also looking better, feeling healthier and more optimistic about their future.

It was time for me make the jump.

My first big decision was to end my professional relationship with a client who was taking up too much of my time and who treated me as an employee instead of a collaborator or consultant. Neither of us was happy with this situation, and both parties were frustrated. The client wanted a full time assistant to be at his office and available on demand. I could respond to the urgent requests, and I had more than enough time to deal with any regular work by being on-site two days per week, but this was not optimal for the client. He wanted someone there, just in case.

So I decided to let this client go, despite the financial hole this would create on a short term basis.

I was afraid, but I have never felt happier. I am currently training the full time assistant one day per week and she will be able to take over very soon. Projects have been coming in, clients have been calling and new opportunities have arrived. I am reorganizing my services and focusing on what I love to do.

I haven’t replaced all the billable hours from this client yet, but I will. I am confident, I feel good about this decision and I know it was the right thing for me.

I also believe that this is a first in a series of big decisions. It’s my turn!

Stay tuned for big decision number two.


Adjusting your rates – Ajuster vos tarifs January 2, 2012

Another year and it’s time to adjust my hourly rate. I used to be afraid to do this. I felt guilty, I was worried that my clients would feel cheated or think that I was asking for too much. I would carefully craft my message and add reasons, examples, and proof to back me up. I don’t do this anymore. I work hard; I offer a professional service with a smile. I am resourceful, interested and dedicated. I go the extra mile. I make sure to keep up with technology. I take classes, attend meetings and brainstorm with my colleagues so my clients get the very best I can offer.

I don’t drastically raise my rates. I take into account the cost of living, taxes and experience.

I know that the clients who appreciate my work won’t have a problem with this.

And I also know that I’m worth it.


Une autre année qui débute et c’est le temps d’ajuster mon taux horaire. Avant, j’avais peur de le faire. Je me sentais coupable, j’étais inquiète que mes clients se sentent floués ou qu’ils pensent que j’en demande trop. J’agonisais sur la rédaction de mon avis d’ajustement et j’ajoutais des justifications, des exemples, des preuves pour soutenir ma démarche. Je ne fais plus cela. Je travaille fort, j’offre un service professionnel avec le sourire. Je suis pleine de ressources, je suis intéressée et je suis dévouée. Je n’ai pas peur d’en donner un peu plus que le client demande. Je m’efforce d’être à jour au niveau de la technologie. Je fais des formations, je participe à des réunions, j’échange avec mes collègues afin de pouvoir offrir le meilleur de moi à mes clients.

Je n’augmente pas mon taux de façon drastique. Je prends en considération le coût de la vie, les taxes et l’expérience.

Et je sais que les clients qui m’apprécient n’auront aucun problème avec ceci.

Je sais aussi que je le vaux bien.


Literally/Figuratively – Good grammar, it’s hot! December 4, 2011

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!


Have you ever heard someone say something like the following?

I was so scared that I literally jumped out of my skin.

I was so cold after two hours in the snow that I literally froze to death.

Upon hearing a statement like one of these, I think, “Really? You literally jumped out of your skin?” Or, “You actually froze to death, but you’re still alive to talk about it?”

It’s common to hear figures of speech (like idioms or hyperboles) used for emphasis, just as “jumped out of my skin” is used to express extreme fright. Such expressions are not intended to be interpreted as is, which is why they are considered figurative. In contrast, when something is literal, it is real or actual. Obviously, it is impossible to jump out of one’s skin, so this expression is figurative, not literal. The use of literally in such an expression is incorrect or, at best, unnecessary.

It could be argued that literally is used with figures of speech for the purpose of exaggeration or emphasis; that is, the person including literally is doing so purposefully to extend the hyperbole. But it is generally understood that figures of speech (as used in the examples above) are for emphasis, often involve some exaggeration, and not intended to be taken seriously. To include the word literally for further exaggeration or emphasis is, in my opinion, verbal overkill.



Anomalies – La nouvelle orthographe November 20, 2011


Quelques familles sont réaccordées (ex. : bonhommie comme bonhomme, charriot comme charrue, chaussetrappe comme trappe, combattivité comme battre, déciller comme cil, imbécilité comme imbécile, innommé comme nommé, persiffler comme siffler, prudhommie comme homme, ventail comme vent).

Quelques anomalies sont supprimées (ex. : les participes passés absout et dissout, assoir, douçâtre, exéma comme examen, levreau comme agneau, nénufar, ognon comme pognon, relai comme balai, saccarine, tocade).

Un accent est ajouté dans quelques mots, où il avait été omis ou dont la prononciation a changé (ex. : bésicles).

La finale -illier est remplacée par la finale -iller lorsque le i qui suit les deux l ne s’entend pas (ex. : quincailler, serpillère).

N.B. On conserve toutefois le suffixe -illier dans les noms d’arbres et de végétaux (ex. : groseillier).

Source : la rédaction du site*.


Bad Badly – Good grammar, it’s hot! November 6, 2011

Bad Badly

Do you feel bad or badly?

Should you want something bad or badly?

Whether to use bad or badly can be determined by identifying the type of verb in the sentence and understanding how bad and badly differ as parts of speech.

Bad is an adjective, so it describes a noun or pronoun. Badly is an adverb so, like all adverbs, it describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb.

Most verbs perform action, but linking verbs are different: they are not performing an action, but are connecting the subject with another word in the sentence. The word feel, when it refers to emotions, serves as a linking verb that connects the subject (always a noun or pronoun) of the sentence with the adjective that follows the verb. When using the verb feel in referring to an emotion or state of mind, always follow it with the adjective bad.
In other cases when an action verb is used (like the verb want), use the adverb badly:

He feels bad that he forgot his mother’s birthday.

He wants a new car badly.



L’accord du participe passé – La nouvelle orthographe October 26, 2011

L’accord du participe passé

Le participe passé de laisser suivi d’un infinitif est invariable (ex. : les enfants que nous avons laissé partir sur le modèle de les enfants que nous avons fait partir, elle s’est laissé mourir sur le modèle de elle s’est fait mourir).

 Source : la rédaction du site*.


Alter Altar – Good grammar, it’s hot! October 12, 2011

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!

Alter Altar

Alter and altar can be easily confused because of their one-letter spelling difference. Usually writers know which meaning they want to convey, but they can’t remember which spelling goes with which word.

Alter (with an “e”) is to change or make something different. Altar (with an “a”) has the religious meaning of a place of sacrifice or center of worship.

Here’s a tip for remembering the difference between the two:

Alter is an action, so it requires effort; effort is a word that starts with the letter “e”.



Simplification des consonnes doubles – La nouvelle orthographe September 25, 2011

 Simplification des consonnes doubles

1. Les formes conjuguées des verbes en -eler ou -eter s’écrivent avec un accent grave et une consonne simple devant une syllabe contenant un e instable (dit e muet). Les dérivés en -ment de ces verbes suivent la même règle (ex. : il détèle sur le modèle de il pèle, il étiquètera sur le modèle de il achètera ; nivèlement, renouvèlement).

Exceptions : appeler, jeter et leurs composés (y compris interpeler), bien implantés dans l’usage.

2. Une consonne qui suit un e instable (dit e muet) est simple : on écrit lunette/lunetier, dentelle/dentelier, dentelière, prunelle/prunelier, sur le modèle des séries noisette/noisetier, chamelle/chamelier. De même : interpeler, nous interpelons, etc.

3. Les mots anciennement en -olle et les verbes anciennement en -otter s’écrivent avec une consonne simple, de même que leurs dérivés (ex. : girole, frisoter, frisotis).

Exceptions :

  • les monosyllabes colle, folle, molle, bien implantés dans l’usage ;
  • les mots de la même famille qu’un nom en -otte (ex. : botte/botter, flotte/flotter, flottement).

Source : la rédaction du site*.


Than Then – Good grammar, it’s hot! September 11, 2011

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!

And let me say that this one is a major pet peeve for me. So many people do not use these words correctly.

Than Then

Which is correct?

Chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla.

Chocolate ice cream is better then vanilla.

The correct choice is the first sentence using than.

Than is a subordinating conjunction. It is used in comparisons, as in the example sentence above in which two flavours of ice cream are being compared.

Then is considered a conjunctive adverb. It is used in reference to time, indicating that one action follows another.

We spent the morning sightseeing; then we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant.

Then and than are often pronounced as if they were the same word, which may explain why they are frequently confused in writing.



Les accents et le tréma – La nouvelle orthographe August 29, 2011

Les accents et le tréma

  1. Devant une syllabe graphique contenant un e instable (dit e muet), on écrit è et non é. Ainsi :

on écrit évènement sur le modèle de avènement, règlementaire sur le modèle de règlement, etc. ;

les formes conjuguées des verbes du type céder, au futur et au conditionnel, s’écrivent avec un accent grave (ex. : elle cèderait sur le modèle de elle lèverait) ;

dans les inversions interrogatives, la première personne du singulier en e suivie du pronom personnel je porte un accent grave (ex. : aimè-je).

Exceptions, en raison de leur prononciation normée en syllabe initiale :

les préfixes dé- et pré- (ex. : dégeler, prévenir) ;

les é- initiaux (ex. : échelon, édredon, élever) ;

ainsi que médecin et médecine.

1.  L’accent circonflexe disparait sur les lettres i et u (ex. : nous entrainons, il parait, flute, traitre).

Exceptions : le circonflexe est maintenu, pour sa fonction analogique ou distinctive,

dans les terminaisons verbales du passé simple (ex. : nous vîmes, vous lûtes) et du subjonctif (ex. : qu’il partît, qu’il eût voulu) ;

dans jeûne(s), les masculins singuliers dû, mûr et sûr, et les formes de croitre qui, sinon, seraient homographes de celles de croire.

2.  Le tréma est déplacé sur la lettre u qui correspond à un son dans les suites -güe- et -güi- (ex. : aigüe, ambigüe, ambigüité).

N.B. Afin de corriger des prononciations jugées défectueuses, le tréma est ajouté dans quelques mots (ex. : argüer, gageüre, rongeüre).

3.  Pour l’accentuation (comme pour le pluriel et la soudure), les mots empruntés suivent la règle des mots français (ex. : homéo-, un imprésario).

Source : la rédaction du site*.