Friday, June 08, 2007

Misused and Abused

Here's a great article by freelance writer, Kendy Sproul. Drop in and visit her blog. She has some great words of advice and many other articles.


Misused and Abused

As a freelance writer and editor, the more I read, the greater my awareness of the confusion most of us experience over the correct use of English. And understandably so. You don't have to be uneducated to make mistakes that might make you seem less than the literate person you are.

In an attempt to clear up a small portion of this confusion, I have made a list of commonly abused words. Don't be ashamed if you see words on this list that you often misuse yourself, the abuse of these words can be commonly found in the correspondence of even the most prestigious offices in our country.

Learn their correct uses and you will hold your head high the next time you are asked to write a report or letter, knowing that no words will be abused in the process.


accept:to receive willingly.except: to exclude or leave out.I accepted payment from everyone there, except Ryan.


affect: when used as a noun it means to influence or stir the emotions of. It can only be applied to subjects that have emotions and can be influenced.effect: to bring about by a cause; result (hence the phrase; cause and effect).What we say as parents, greatly affects our children. The effect can be disastrous.


aggravate: to make worse; to annoy.irritate: to provoke to anger; to make inflamed or sore.Brian tried to irritate his little sister. The situation was aggravated by the barking dog.


anxious: worried or uneasy.eager: keenly desiring or impatient.I was eager to go, but anxious about the slick roads.


continually: repeated often.continuously: without interruption, unbroken.Ted has to put fuel in the generator continually to keep it running continuously.


i.e.: short for the Latin, id est, meaning, "that is."e.g.: short for the Latin, exempli gratia, meaning, "for example."I prefer neutral colors; i.e. beige, sand, brown, etc.The twins have several differences; e.g. Ellen is taller than Susan.


imply: to indicate indirectly; to suggest.infer: to conclude by reasoning; to draw meaning from something known or assumed."Wow, that's some hair color," she said, implying that my hair looked unnatural. "Your hair is Red!" he said, inferring to the color.

into/in to

into: to enter (Go into the kitchen.); to change form (He turned into a frog.); continue in the midst of (We danced into the night.); to make contact with or strike (She ran into the door. or, I ran into an old friend.).in to: used in most other instances.Patricia T. O'Conner simplifies things in her book, Woe is I, where she advises; If you can drop the in without losing the meaning, the term you want is in to. Bring the guests (in) to me, then we'll all go (in) to dinner.


it's: the contraction of "it is."its: the possessive form of "it."These two are commonly confused but not interchangeable.It’s so warm outside that the yard is beginning to lose its winter look.


lay: always applies to an object; to place an object somewhere.lie: to rest in a horizontal or reclined position.First, I will lay my book on the shelf, then I will lie down on the bed.


nauseated: caused to feel nausea; to be make sick.nauseous: an adjective referring to something causing nausea; something sickening.I’m nauseated by that nauseous odor.Got it? Good! Far too many of us go through life mistakenly (or not) admitting that we are sickening (nauseous).


sit: to rest oneself upon the buttocks; to be seated.set: always applies to an object; something is being placed.Set your cup on the counter, then sit in the chair.


than: use when comparing elements.One is bigger than the other.then: use when signifying a sequence of events or regarding time.We will go for a walk, then have lunch. I was younger then.

This is only a portion of my list of commonly misused words. But, by spreading the knowledge of their proper use, there just may be fewer cases of word abuse in the world.

by Kendy Sproul

1 comment:

Joanne Walpole said...

Useful article. What annoys me with a lot of people is that they just ignore their mistakes and assume 'everyone knows' what they mean so 'it's all right'.