Sunday, 25 March 2012

[HM:252115] Top Misused English Words

Don't Lose Your Credibility by Misusing These Words, Too!

We're back again with your next installment of the most commonly misused words in the English language. Our last edition certainly struck a chord with many authors as we listed some of your biggest pet peeves or offered points of grammatical clarification.

Let's take a moment to discuss what happens when an error does see the light of day. It's always a humbling moment when, as an Expert Author, someone points out grammatical errors or inconsistencies in your published articles or on your site. Use these errors as moments of discovery by adding them to your proofreading lineup to strengthen your writing skills and maintain your credibility as an Expert Author.

Without further ado, keep a vigilant eye on your articles for this next batch of abused, ill-used, and misused words:

affect vs. effect

affect - To have an effect on; make a difference to; an emotion or desire.

Incorrect: Chocolate effects my behavior.
Correct: Chocolate affects my behavior.

effect - To bring about; to cause something to happen; a change that is a result of an action or cause.

Incorrect: Chocolate has an incredible affect on behavior.
Correct: Chocolate has an incredible effect on behavior.

allot vs. a lot

allot - To give or to apportion something to someone as a share or a task.

Incorrect: I will a lot 3 prizes to the winners.
Correct: I will allot 3 prizes to the winners.

a lot - (never alot) A large amount, very many; also, very much.

Incorrect: I like monkeys allot. There are alot of them at the zoo.
Correct: I like monkeys a lot. There are a lot of them at the zoo.

Please note the context of a piece of land or lot, as in "a lot", is also acceptable; however, it's not a common usage error.

then vs. than

then - At that time; at the time in question; after that, next, afterward.

Incorrect: I went to the zoo and than to the park.
Correct: I went to the zoo and then to the park.

than - Used in expressions when introducing an exception or contrast.

Incorrect: Bob is shorter then Ralph.
Correct: Bob is shorter than Ralph.

lie vs. lay

lie - To be in or assume a horizontal or resting position; the way, direction, or position in which something lies.

Please note we will not be discussing "lie", i.e. to tell a falsehood or to fib, because it's not a common usage error.

Incorrect: I am going to lay down for a nap.
Correct: I am going to lie down for a nap.

lay - To put down (generally carefully or gently); the general appearance of an area.

Incorrect: I am going to lie the baby down for a nap.
Correct: I am going to lay the baby down for a nap.

desert vs. dessert

desert - To abandon; a dry, barren area of land; barren.

Incorrect: The nomads desserted the dessert in search of water.
Correct: The nomads deserted the desert in search of water.

dessert - The sweet course at the end of the meal.

Incorrect: Did you see this low-fat and delicious desert recipe?
Correct: Did you see this low-fat and delicious dessert recipe?

We will have another installment of the most common misused words over the next few weeks, so stop by the Blog again for new grammar and spelling tips to ensure your articles are error free. Not only will these tips help you maintain your credibility, but they can be applied across multiple platforms and help you drive more traffic to your blog or website!

Did you miss our last edition of Top Misused Words? Check it out here!

Penny, Managing Editor

PS: Download the entire Article Writing - Paragraph and Grammar Structure PDF training series to uncover the basics of grammar by visiting our FREE Training Archive!

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