CONFUSING WORDS AND THEIR USAGE
- A, An: The choice of which to use depends on the sound–not the letter that follows.
- Accept, except: Accept means to take or to receive. Except means to exclude.
- Adverse, Averse: Adverse means hostile or unfavorable. Averse means disinclined.
- Affect, Effect: Affect is to influence, change. Effect is to cause.
- Afterward, Afterwards: Never use afterwards.
- Aid, Aide: Aid is a form of help, to help. Aide is an assistant.
- A lot, Allot: A lot means a great deal. Allot means to assign or distribute a share of something.
- Allude, Elude: Allude means refer to a book. Elude means to avoid a pursuer.
- Allusion, Delusion, Elusion, Illusion: Allusion means indirect reference. Delusion means false belief.
- Elusion means to escape. Illusion means unreal vision.
- Already, All ready: Already means previously. All ready means all prepared.
- Alright: Bad spelling of all right, but is common in written dialogue.
- Altogether, All together: Altogether means entirely. All together means in a group.
- Ante-, Anti-: Ante- is a prefix meaning “before.” Anti- is a prefix meaning “against.”
- Anybody, Any Body: Anybody means any person. Any body means any corpse or any human form.
- As, Like: As can introduce a clause, like cannot.
- Assure, Ensure, Insure: Assure means to give someone confidence. Ensure means o make certain. Insure
- means to protect against loss.
- Awhile, A while: Awhile is an adverb meaning for a short time. A while is a noun phrase used when a
- preposition is expressed.
- Beside, Besides: Beside means by the side of. Besides means in addition.
- Breadth, Breath, Breathe: Breadth means width. Breath means respiration. Breathe means to inhale and exhale.
- Can, May: Can implies ability. May denotes permission.
- Cannot, Can not: Cannot is always one word.
- Credible, Credulous: Credible means believable. Credulous means willing to believe.
- Disinterested, Uninterested: Disinterested means unbiased by personal interest. Uninterested means lack of interest.
- Elicit, Illicit: Elicit means to draw forth. Illicit means unlawful.
- Everyday, Every day: Everyday pertains to every day, daily; or ordinary.
- Farther, Further: Farther means more distant, measurable sense. Further means more or additional.
- Get: Imprecise or redundant usually for context; consider replacing.
- Hanged, Hung: Hanged is used in connection with executions. Hung denotes any other kind of suspension.
- Imply, Infer: Imply means to give a hint or suggestion. Infer means to derive by reasoning.
- Its, It’s: Its is the possessive case of it. It’s is the contraction of it is.
- Just exactly: Redundant combination.
- Kind of, Sort of: Never use a or an after these expressions.
- Lay, Lie: Lay means to put or place. Lie means to rest or recline.
- Lead, Led: Lead used as a verb means to go before; used as a noun it is a metal. Led is the past tense of verb lead meaning went before.
- Lose, Loose: Lose means to misplace. Loose means not fastened down.
- Myself: An intensive and reflexive pronoun; should never be used in a sentence without its corresponding noun or pronoun. (I hurt myself.)
- Nauseous, Nauseated: Nauseous means affected with nausea or causing nausea. You are nauseated.
- On, Onto, On to: On can mean on top of. Onto means upon, on and implies movement. On to can have same meaning as onto.
- Oral, Verbal: Oral means spoken. Verbal means spoken also.
- One another, Each other: Each other applies to two. One another applies to three or more.
- Passed, Past: Passed is a verb for went or gone by. Past means preceding.
- People, Persons: People refers to masses. Persons is for small groups.
- Precede, Proceed: Precede means to come before. Proceed means to go ahead.
- Principal, Principle: Principal as a noun, refers to a person, except in specialized legal and financial terms. Principle a noun with abstract meanings.
- Quite: Can mean completely.
- Raise, Rise: Raise as a verb means to lift or bring up; as a noun it means an increase. Rise as a verb means to go or get up; as a noun it means reaction.
- Regardless, Irregardless: Regardless means without regard or despite. Irregardless is a nonstandard word for regardless and should not be used.
- Set, Sit: Set means to place or put something. Sit means to assume an upright position.
- Than, Then: Than is used after a comparison. Then means next.
- That, Which: That is used to indicate a person or thing as pointed out; is not set off by commas. Which means which one; used in restrictive and non-restrictive clause to represent a specified antecedent; is set off by
- That, Who: Both can refer to a person. Use whichever sounds better in a given context.
- Their, There, They’re: Their means to show possession. There means a location. There is a contraction of they are.
- Titled, Entitled: Titled refers to the name of a book play, etc. Entitled means a right or a claim.
- Toward, Towards: Toward is correct. Do not use towards.
- Use, Utilize: Use can have same meaning as utilize and can be used in its place. Utilize cannot replace use.
- Via: Often treated as synonymous for by, through, or by means of.
- Who, Whom: Who is the correct form of a subject of a sentence or clause. Whom is used for the object of a verb or preposition.
- Who’s, Whose: Who’s is the contraction for who is and who has. Whose is the possessive form of who.
- You’re, Your: You’re is the contraction of you are. Your is the possessive form of you.