A few years ago, in the newsletter that preceded this blog, I published a series of short articles that clarified numerous words, terms and expressions that are commonly used incorrectly and/or inappropriately in everyday writing and speaking. There are quite a few of these words and terms to cover, so I plan to publish one of these articles every second month on this blog starting now (September 2011), and continuing throughout 2012. In the intervening months I will publish one of my typical “how to” writing help articles.
Commonly Confused Words/Terms (No. 1)
This is from my “short list” of words and/or terms that I have noticed are commonly confused in everyday writing and speaking. Some of these words/terms are used in informal speech as “colloquialisms” but should not be used in most types of formal writing.
This is the first instalment in the series. I will be adding to this list in alphabetical order, every second month, over the next year or so:
Accept means “to receive”. Except means “to exclude.”
Example: I will accept all of those books except that one.
Adapt means “to adjust to”. Adopt means to “take as one’s own”.
Example: We adopted the new puppy which quickly adapted to its new surroundings.
“Advice” is a noun, and “advise” is a verb.
Example: I advise you to follow Frank’s advice.
agree with, agree to
“Agree with” means “to be in accord with”. “Agree to” means
“to give consent to”.
Example: She agrees with my overall strategy but won’t
agree to my plan of action.
all ready, already
“All ready” in two words, means “completely prepared.” “Already” as one word means “previously”.
Example: Fred was all ready to go, but John had already left.
all right, alright
“All right” in two words, means “everything’s ok”. “Alright” as one word
is non-standard and should be avoided.
all together, altogether
“All together” in two words, means “everyone gathered…”.
“Altogether” as one word, means “entirely.”
Example: We were not altogether convinced that they would be able to meet all together as a group.
Use “amount” with quantities that can’t be counted. Use “number” with things that can be counted.
Example: This recipe calls for a large amount of salt. There are a number of similar recipes in this book.
angry at, angry with
In writing, “to be angry with” is standard. “To be angry at” is non-standard and should be avoided in writing.
anyone, any one
“Anyone”, as one word, means “anyone at all”. “Any one” in two words refers to a particular person or thing.
Example: Anyone over 18 years old can have access to any one of the workout machines.
Sometimes you can get away with these types of errors when speaking (i.e. people might assume they “misheard” you and/or will give you the benefit of the doubt), but if you make such mistakes when writing they are right there in “black and white” for everyone to see. This is an instant way to lose credibility and will immediately cast doubts on your overall capabilities.
For more writing help articles, including practical written examples, you can go to my main writing help website at:
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