When it comes to true formal writing nothing takes a reader out of the message more quickly than running across a misused word.
Here is a list of tenof the most commonly misused English words along with how to avoid making the same mistake with them over and over.
1. Principal vs. principle. If you grew up in the US, you likely learned that the principal was your P-A-L (except when you got in trouble). It’s also used in the financial world to define an amount of money.
2. Than vs. then. Then indicates action, and is part of the logic construct: If/Then while than is strictly for comparisons.
3. Farther vs. further. Farther implies a physical distance, while further is a state of mind, something not physically measurable.
4. Number vs. amount. Use number when there are physical entities that can be counted present. Amount is a numerical representation, like in currency, that is not defined by the number of objects present.
5. Affect vs. effect. Affect is a verb, meaning to cause change to occur, but the change is not permanent. Effect is largely a noun, and is the change that is affected. When used as a verb, effect means to alter something totally.
6. E.g. vs. i.e. Ideally, you shouldn’t be using either of these unless you are writing in a print publication where space is an issue. However, if you do need them, know your Latin to tell the difference. e.g. stands for exempli gratia and means “for example”, i.e. is short for id est, and means “that is” or “in other words”.
7. Infer vs. imply. Are you the talker or the listener? That’s the best way to tell the difference. The talker will imply meaning with his words, while the listener will infer meaning from what he hears.
8. Award vs. reward. An award is a physical object given to someone for service or an achievement. A reward is often financial, but not necessarily, and does not have to physical in nature.
9. Emigrate vs. immigrate. Emigrate begins with the letter E, as does exit. When you emigrate, you exit a country. Immigrate begins with the letter I, as does in. When you immigrate, you go into a country.
10. Beside vs. besides. Beside is used to express one object’s physical presence adjacent to another item. Besides means “in addition to”.
P.S. There is no X in Espresso.
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