This is another in my ongoing series about common errors in everyday English.
Commonly Confused Words/Terms (No. 2)
This is from my “list” of words and/or terms that I notice 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 second instalment. I will be adding to this list in alphabetical order in future posts to this blog:
These are non-standard. Use anyway and anywhere.
awhile, a while
“Awhile” is an adverb, so it can modify a verb. But it cannot be the object of a preposition. The two-word version “a while” is a noun preceded by an article and can therefore be the object of a preposition.
Example: Rest awhile. He stayed for a while.
“Bad” is an adjective, “badly is an adverb.
Example:They felt bad about being late. His leg hurt badly after his accident.
“Beside” means “at the side of”. “Besides” means “except” or “in addition to”.
Example: John sat beside me. No one can go, besides Mary.
Use “bring” when an object is being brought “with” or “towards” where you are now;
Use “take” when the object is being taken “away” from where you are now.
Example:Bring the tickets with you. We will take the car to the club.
“Can” usually refers to “ability” to do something, while “may” normally means “permission”.
Example:Can you write the letter yourself? May I go too?
“Cite” means “to quote” an authority. “Site” normally refers to a place.
Example:He cited bank regulations when opposing the new project.
“Coarse” means crude or rough. “Course” normally refers to a path or route to somewhere or something.
Example:The material was coarse in texture. His program
includes a course in sociology.
“Complement” means “to go with or complete” something. “Compliment” means “to flatter”.
Example:His lyrics complement her playing. The maestro
complimented her on her musicianship.
“Continual” means “repeated, regular, and frequently”. “Continuous” means “prolonged, without interruption”.
Example:He grew tired of her continual nagging. The
alarm rang continuously as they exited.
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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