Here’s the next one in my ongoing series about common errors used in everyday English.
It’s another excerpt 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 sixth installment. I will be adding to this list in alphabetical order in future posts to this blog. (See blog posts for Sept. and Oct. 2011, and Jan., March and May, 2012 for the first five).
“Most” does NOT mean “almost”. Do not use it for that.
Almost [NOT most] everyone went to the show last night.
“Myself” is a reflexive or intensive pronoun.
I hurt myself [reflexive]. I drove myself [intensive].
She gave the books to Francis and me [NOT myself].
“Nowheres” is non-standard. Use “nowhere” instead.
We went nowhere last night [NOT “nowheres”].
Use “number” with quantities that can be counted.
Use “amount” for quantities that cannot be counted.
That’s a large amount of money, but the number of sales was low.
OK, ok, okay
All three spellings are acceptable. Avoid them in formal speech and writing.
“Parameters” is a mathematical term that refers to values of variables.
Use “limits” or “guidelines” instead.
He had to work within certain limits [NOT parameters].
“Passed” is the past tense of the verb “pass”. “Past”
refers to a previous point in time.
In the past, Frank had always passed his biology exams.
percent, per cent, percentage
“Percent” or “per cent” are always used with a specific number.
“Percentage” is always used with a descriptive term such as large or small.
He received 15 percent [or per cent] of the votes, a small percentage of the total.
“Phenomena” is the plural of “phenomenon”, which is defined as a fact or occurrence that is perceived.
Strange phenomena occur around here all the time, but last night’s phenomenon was the weirdest so far.
“practice” is a noun that refers to “a way of doing things”.
“Practise” is a verb.
He wanted to practise his song, but the practice was canceled.
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, and practical written examples, go to my main writing help website at:
BEFORE LEAVING: PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR FEEDBACK IN THE COMMENT BOX BELOW==>>