Here’s another one in my ongoing series about common errors used in everyday English.
It’s an excerpt from my long “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 seventh installment. I will be adding to this list in alphabetical order in future posts to this blog. (See previous blog posts for Sept. and Oct. 2011, and Jan., Mar., May, Sept. 2012 for the first six).
“Precede” means “to come before.” “Proceed” means “to go forward”.
Proceed with caution because you never know who may have preceded you.
“Principal” can be a noun or adjective and can mean different things in different contexts.
As a noun, it can mean “the head of a school” or “a sum of money”.
As an adjective, “principal” means “most important”.
On the other hand, “principle” is a noun that means “basic truth or law”.
Mary Stone is the principal of our high school.
My monthly loan payment includes principal plus interest.
The main principle behind his argument is equality for all.
“Quote” is a verb that means “to repeat” exactly what someone said.
“Quotation” is a noun that refers to “quotes” or means the statement of a “price”.
To quote Shakespeare, “to be or not to be…”.
His quotations from Shakespeare were many and often.
Their price quotation was too high.
“Raise” means “to move, or cause to move upward”.
“Rise” means “to go up”.
If you raise the blind, you will see the sun rise.
“Real” is an adjective. “Really” is an adverb.
“Real” is sometimes used incorrectly as an adjective.
He was really [not real] excited about the game.
The expression “reason why” is redundant.
The reason [not reason why] we crashed is obvious.
“Relation” describes a connection between things.
“Relationship” refers to a connection between people.
He studied the relation between income and intellect.
Their relationship soured after the company went broke.
I personally mix-up the above two all the time!
“Respectfully” means to “treat with respect”.
“Respectively” means “in the order specified”.
She respectfully curtsied before the queen.
John, Tom and Fred were writer, artist, and musician, respectively.
“Sensual” means “gratifying the senses”. “Sensuous” means “pleasing to the senses”.
The sensual music created a very sensuous atmosphere.
“Set” means “to put” or “to place”.
“Sit” means “to be seated” or “to rest on”.
He set the new chair in the corner of the room.
That’s where he will sit during the meeting.
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:
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