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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Collection of Commonly Confused & Misused Words and Phrases

*This is an updated version of my old post. I will continue to add more words/phrases to this collection, so please check back from time to time.*

This post is a compilation of the commonly confused and misused English terms. Much too often, I see writers making very basic mistakes without realizing it. Either they didn't know the definition, or they made a simple typo. These days, writers rely on spellcheckers on Word or grammar software to fix all the errors. But do you know what? The spellchecker will only highlight the misspelled words, not fix the incorrect usage of the words. Yes, this job is for the humans. Writers and editors. I hope this helps~

Accept/Except   accept: to take or receive     except: but, excluding

Adapt/Adopt   adapt: adjust     adopt: choose, take

Advise/Advice   advise: verb (I advised him.)     advice: noun (I gave him an advice.)

Affect/Effect   affect: produce an effect, verb (She affected him)     effect: noun, (Headache is the effect of stress.)

Aid/Aide   aid: help, assistance (verb, adjective, noun)     aide: assistant (the person who is giving the aid/help)

All ready/already   all ready: completely prepared (Dinner is all ready.)      already:  by or before stated time (You’re done already?)

Altogether/All together   altogether: entirely     all together: everything in one place, gathered

A lot/Alot   a lot: right     alot: wrong

All right/Alright   all right: right     alright: wrong

Among/Between   among: surrounded by     between: in the space separating two points

Anyway/Anyways   anyway: right      anyways: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

Bare/Bear   bare: without, unconcealed, undisguised     bear: to hold up, support 

Brake/Break   brake: a device to stop a moving vehicle     break: separate into pieces or interrupt 

Breath/Breathe   breath: noun- inhaled/exhaled air     breathe: verb-to inhale/exhale 

Can I/May I   can: it denotes ability     may: used in asking for permission 
(Example: "Can I drink coke?" "You can since you have the physical ability to drink it, but you may not drink it since you didn't ask properly." "Fine. May I drink coke?" "Yes, you may.")

Canceled/Cancelled (canceling /cancelling)   It angers me whenever I see some TV news (by journalists and editors) and airports misusing it so much! In America, use American English. Canceled is American English, and cancelled isn't (use in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) Same goes for travel. It's traveling/traveled, not travelling/travelled. 

Cite/Site   cite: to quote, to summon     site: position or location of a town, building, etc.

Compliment/Complement   compliment: an expression of praise       complement: something that completes

Conscious/Conscience   conscious: awake     conscience: inner guide to right or wrong

Could care less/Couldn’t care less   The right way is “couldn’t.”

Council/Counsel   council: a group that advises     counsel: to advise 

Dessert/Desert   dessert: food served after the main meal     desert: arid, dry land

Discreet/Discrete discreet: showing prudence, circumspection       discrete: consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts

ELICIT/Illicit   elicit: to draw or bring out     illicit: illegal

Farther/Further   farther: physical distance (It’s farther than xxxx.)       further: metaphorical distance (This requires further consideration.)

Few/Less   few: countable (fewer people)        less: uncountable (Less harmful)

Forward/forwards   forward: right      forwards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

I/Me   I: subject of a verb (Sam and I are studying.)     me: object of a verb (It’s between you and me.)

It’s/Its   it’s: contraction for it is or it has     its: indicates possessive like his or theirs

i.e./e.g.   i.e.: therefore, that is     e.g.: for example

Imply/Infer   imply: suggest, state indirectly, hint     infer: deduce, make an educated guess, conclude (Give & Take: One person gives an implication, and the other takes it and then infers it.)

Incite/Insight   incite: to stir up, to stimulate (Your bad attitude will only incite more negative feedback.)     insight: deep understanding, awareness (It offers insight to the minds of the writers.)

Intend/Intent   intend: verb, to plan or want to do     intent: noun, the thing that you plan to do

Interrupt/Interject   interrupt: break the continuity     interject: say, insert something abruptly 

And for the love of everything cuddly and fluffy like a new born puppy, IRREGARDLESS is not a word!!
Okay. Let’s continue...

Good/Well   good: adjective (Your singing is good.)     well: adverb (You sing well.)

Lightening/Lightning   lightening: illuminate, brightening       lightning: accompany thunder

Lose/Loose   lose: no longer have (lost)     loose: not tight, careless (My belt is loose.)

Loath/Loathe   loath: reluctant, unwilling     loathe: intense hate, disgust  (I'm loath to join a gym, but that doesn't mean that I loathe exercising.) 

Moral/Morale   moral: lesson (noun-the moral of the story is...) or righteous (adjective-he has the moral of a saint)     morale: enthusiasm, confidence (Flowers sent by strangers increased the morale of the patient.

Nauseous/Nauseated   Nauseous is what causes one to feel nauseated. Saying "I'm nauseous" is like saying "I'm gross." Correct way is "I feel nauseated because of that nauseous smell."   

Necessary/Necessity   necessary: adjective- being essential     necessity: noun- the fact of being necessary 

Passed/Past   passed: verb in past tense     past: can be adjective, adverb, preposition, noun, but never verb

Peak/Peek   peak: pointed top of anything     peek: a quick look

Poor/Pore/Pour    poor: low quality, unfortunate, impoverished  pore: tiny opening in a surface or think intently, scrutinize  pour: transfer liquid

Principle/Principal   principle: doctrine, truth      principal: first, main

Riffle/Rifle   riffle: rapidly flip or shuffle through     rifle: flip/shuffle though or ransack with intent to steal

Role/Roll    role: function or position, characteristic of a person, portrayal of an actor, etc.     roll: to move forward on a surface, to travel (Elvis played a big role in the history of rock and roll.)

Site/Sight   site: position or location of a town, building, etc.     sight: vision, view

Staring/Starring   staring: looking     starring: have someone as a performer in a movie, play, etc.

Stationary/Stationery   stationary: not moving      stationery: writing paper

Suppose to be/Supposed to be   It’s always supposed with a “d.” 

Than/Then   than: comparative (I’m bigger than you.)     then: refers to time (I’ll see you before then.)

There/Their   there: in or at that place (It’s right there.)     their: possessive of they (It’s their TV.)

Toward/Towards   toward: right      towards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending, maybe in U.K.)

To/Too/Two   to: in a direction toward     too: also     two: 2

Use to be/Used to be   It’s always used with a “d.”

Vain/Vane/Vein   vain: conceited     vane: a thin, rigid, flat, or sometimes curved surfaces radially mounted along an axis     vein: blood vessel

Waist/Waste   waist: middle of a body around the tummy     waste: to use, consume, spend, or trash

Was/Were   was(singular): could be true Example: If he was here, he'd be controlling the TV as usual.     were(plural): hypothetical or fantasy

Example: If I were God, I'd get rid of snow.

Weather/Wether/Whether   weather: climate, temperature, etc.     wether: a castrated ram     whether: used to introduce alternative possibilities (We don't care whether you eat or not.)

Who/Whom   who: subject     whom: object
Example: The easiest way is by looking at the answer. Is the answer a subject or an object? Who is that? I did. (The answer is I, subject) To whom are you speaking? I’m speaking to him. (The answer is him, object)

Who/Which/That   who: people     which: never for people     that: okay for a group of people

Which/That   which: non-restrictive Example: A comma comes before it. The phrase can be taken out without changing the meaning of the sentence.    
that: restrictive Example: No Comma. If the phrase that follows is taken out, the meaning changes.

Your/You're   I can't believe I have to explain this, but I've seen it so many times just on Twitter alone. I detest it. your: possessive form of you, belonging to, etc.     you're: contraction of you are ("You're not your mother!")

There are more, and it's very difficult to remember all of them. Do yourself a favor and hire an editor.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy writing~