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Commonly Confused Words

 
 
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Old 09-01-2008, 02:16 PM
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Default Commonly Confused Words


lie/lay
Lie (to rest or recline) never takes an object, whereas lay (to put down or place) does. Example: I need to lie down, but I have to lay these books somewhere first.


it's/its
It's is a contraction of it is. Its indicates ownership. In deciding which to use, substitute it is into the sentence. If it doesn't make sense, you need to use its. Example: It's (It is) imperative that we use its (possessive) scientific name for classification.

you're/your
You're is a contraction of you are. Your indicates ownership. Example: Your (possessive) homework is messy; you're (you are) going to have to redo it.

they're/their:
They're is a contraction of they are. Their indicates ownership. Example: They're (they are) going to go over their (possessive) plans for the trip soon.

who's/whose:
Who's is a contraction of who is. Whose is the possessive form of who or which. Example: Who's (who is) going to whose (possessive)house?

fewer/less
Use fewer if the items can be counted. Use less if they cannot. Example: I had to grab fewer coffee cups because someone had made less coffee than usual this morning.

than/then
Than is used to compare and contrast, then is used when one thing follows or results from another. Example: He is shorter than me until I take off my high heels, then he is a bit taller.

alright/all right
Alright is not all right. This word, unlike although and already, has yet to be accepted as standard and using it will detract from the professional look of your work. Always write it out: all right.

farther/further
These two words are commonly interchanged, but there is a distinction between the two: farther serves best as a distance word, further as a time or quantity word. You chase a ball farther than another person. You pursue a subject further.

accept/except/expect
Another one that confuses because they all sound similar. To accept something is to receive or undertake something offered: He accepted the job. Except is used to mean "other than": They were all there, except Billy. Don't confuse except with expect. To expect something is to regard it as likely to happen: I expect she'll be there.

torturous/tortuous
A common mistake. A painful ordeal is torturous. A long and winding road is tortuous.

affect/effect
Possibly the hardest one to get right because they sound identical. Affect means to influence: Charlie had affected her judgement. Effect, as a noun, means "result": It had the desired effect. As a verb, it means "to bring about," "to accomplish": John effected the release of two prisoners.

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Last edited by Daedalus; 09-02-2008 at 06:38 AM..
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