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More Commonly Misused Words
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That is a line, said by Inigo Montoya, from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride.
In writing, when we use words we need to be sure we know exactly what they mean. As a writer, some of your best friends need to be a dictionary and thesaurus.
I am constantly amazed by how many people (including myself) misuse words. Meanings, as well as pronunciations, are often misunderstood. In this article I’m going to talk about some of the words that are commonly misused in writing, as well as in speaking.
Accept/except - Accept is a verb that means to receive something willingly.
I accept your offer.
Except means to leave something out.
Everyone is going except for Melinda.
Affect/effect - Affect is a verb and means to produce a change in.
Her decision will affect what time we go to the movies.
Effect is a noun meaning result.
Constant exposure to the sun had the effect of burning her once milky white skin.
Anxious/eager - When you are anxious, you are filled with anxiety (distress or uneasiness).
The snarling dog made me anxious to walk down the road.
In some instances, it may be true to say I am anxious to meet you. Usually the word needed to be used is eager, which means anticipating with pleasure.
I am eager to meet you.
Lie/lay - Lie is an intransitive verb. It is used without an object.
Lie on the couch.
Lay is a transitive verb and needs an object.
Lay your book on the table.
These words become ultimately confusing. The past form of the verb lie is lay and the past form of lay is laid.
This morning I lay on the couch.
This morning I laid my book on the table.
Than/then - Than is used when comparing things.
Tim is taller than Earl.
Then refers to time.
Clean your room, then we will go to the park.
To/too/two - To is a preposition and always begins a prepositional phrase.
The nanny will take the children to the amusement park.
Too is an adverb that means to an excessive degree, also or very. Too modifies verbs, adjectives or adverbs.
Too little sleep caused Rebecca to fall asleep during class.
Two is a number. It comes between one and three.
Sherry is the proud owner of two black cats.
If you would like to purchase a dictionary or thesaurus to help with your writing, they can be found at Amazon. Please click on the links below if you wish to purchase either one or both.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Red Kivar Binding with Jacket)
Roget's International Thesaurus, 6th Edition
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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