Misused Words

Misused Words

by Deanna Lilly

Here is a list of regularly misused words and their appropriate uses. You might want to bookmark this page so you have ready access to which spelling you should be using.

A/An

“A” goes before consonant sounds. eg. A book, A treasure.

NOTE: it is the sound not the actual letter that makes the rule. i.e. A University.

“An” goes before a vowel sound. eg. AN apple, AN orangutan.

NOTE: the same exception applies here i.e. AN R.C.A. Television.

Accept/Except

“Accept” means to receive.

“Please ACCEPT your invitation.”

“Except” means to leave out.

“I will take all of those EXCEPT the blue one.”

Affect/Effect

“Affect” means to influence.

“Her reputation AFFECTED his opinion of her.”

“Effect” means result (n.) or to accomplish (v.)

“The EFFECT of my speech was minimal.” (n.)

“The new speaker EFFECTED a change in the audience.” (v.)

All Ready/Already

“All Ready” is an adjective and means everyone is ready or prepared.

“We are ALL READY to leave.”

“Already” means previously.

“They have ALREADY left.”

All Right/Alright

“All Right” is the correct spelling.

“Alright” is not a word.

Among/ Between

“Among” is used for three or more objects/people.

“The four of them divided it AMONG themselves.”

“Between” is used with 2 people.

“The two of them divided it BETWEEN themselves.”

NOTE: Between can also be used;

A) with more than 2 in a united situation i.e. “BETWEEN the four of them they raised more than enough money.”

B) For a comparison or opposition i.e. “There is a great deal of competition BETWEEN those four students, therefore it is difficult to choose BETWEEN them.

Amount/Number

“Amount” is used to refer to bulk items .

An AMOUNT of sugar, grain, flour.

OR quantity

An AMOUNT of money.

“Number” refers to objects which are thought of as a group of individual units.

A NUMBER of oranges, children, cows, glasses.

Most words following AMOUNT are singular while those following NUMBER are plural.

Bimonthly/Semimonthly

“Bimonthly” means every two months.

“Semimonthly” means twice a month.

Bring/Take

“Bring” is the action towards the writer or speaker.

“BRING that over here.”

“Take” is the action away from the writer or speaker.

“TAKE that with you when you leave.”

Continual/Continuous

“Continual” is an action that occurs over a period of time but has pauses.

“She nagged him CONTINUALLY.”

“Continuous” is an action that has no pauses.

“Her tapping was CONTINUOUS.”

Farther/Further

“Farther” is physical distance.

“She can jump FARTHER than he can.”

“Further” refers to degree or extent.

“Let’s discuss this FURTHER.”

I/Me

“Mary (or she) and I need to work harder.”

(Test your sentence by dropping the person’s name, he or she. You would not say “Me need to work harder.”)

“It works for Bill and Me.”

(Test your sentence by dropping the name, You would not say “It works for I.” Also, me does not come before the other person (not me and Bill).

Its/It’s

“Its” is the possessive of It .

“The stove has lost ITS power.”

“It’s” is the contraction for It Is. [Say out loud “it is” and the rest of your sentence. If it sounds funny, you shouldn’t use the contraction.]

“IT’S too late to fix it.”

Their/There/They’re

“Their” is the possessive.

“It is THEIR special day tomorrow.”

“There” is the adverb and expletive.

“They plan to go THERE tomorrow because THERE is too much to do today.”

“They’re” is the contraction of They Are.

“THEY’RE planning to have a good time.”

Who’s/Whose

“Who’s” is the contraction of Who Is or Who Has.

“WHO’S coming with you?”

“Whose” is the possessive form of Who.

“WHOSE house is it anyway?”

You’re/Your

“You’re” is the contraction of You Are.

“YOU’RE going to the zoo?”

“Your” is the possessive form of You.

“YOUR party was great.”