This is another article 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 eighth instalment. 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; Jan., Mar., May, Sept. 2012; Jan. 2013; for the first seven).
should of, should have
“Should of” is non-standard for “should have”.
We should have gone to the concert [not should of].
“Site” refers to a particular location.
“Cite” means “to quote” an authority and/or a source.
When he saw the accident site he immediately started citing parts of the criminal code.
sometime, some time, sometimes
“Sometime” is an adverb meaning “at an indefinite or
“Some time” is the adjective “some” modifying the noun “time” and is spelled using two
words to mean “a period of time.”
“Sometimes” is an adverb meaning “at times, now and then”.
I’ll be there “sometime” next month.
I haven’t seen him for “some time.”
You can see her there “sometimes.”
Use “take” when something is being moved away.
Use “bring” when it is being moved “towards” you.
Please take the money to the bank when you go.
Make sure you bring the concert tickets with you.
“Than” is a conjuction used in comparisons.
“Then” is an adverb meaning “time”.
That car is more than I can afford.
She screamed, and then we knew it was she.
“Theirselves” is non-standard for “themselves”.
The students were able to move the stalled car by themselves. [not theirselves].
there, their, theirs, they’re
“There” refers to a specific location.
“Their” is a possessive adjective.
“Theirs” is a possessive pronoun.
“They’re” is a contraction for “they are.”
You can find him over there by the fence.
That one is their house.
That is theirs, over by the car.
They’re going to go together.
to, too, two
“To” is a preposition meaning “in the direction of.”
“Too” means “in excess of”.
“Two” is a number.
Too many of your shots are off to the left, but the last two were perfect.
These both mean “in the direction of” and they are generally interchangeable.
He skated toward the opposition’s goal.
She harboured no grudge towards them.
try and, try to
“Try and” is non-standard for “try to”.
The coach told them to try to beat their best time.
[not “try and”].
Occasionally, 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 examples, go to my main writing help website at:
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