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Commonly Misused Words and How to Use Them Correctly

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Some words are just a nuisance, a single mistake in one letter of a word can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

Here are some commonly misused and easily mistaken words. I hope these examples can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes in your writing.

1. affect/effect

Affect - to change an outcome

Effect - the result of change or an event

(Memory tip- we can affect the effect.)

2. accept/except

Accept- to agree or receive something.

Except- to leave something out.

3. anymore/any more

Anymore - an adverb meaning now.

Any more - signifies something extra.

4. percent/percentage

Percent - use percent when the number is omitted.

Percentage - use when the number is known.

5. bad/badly

Bad - bad is an adjective it describes nouns or pronouns.

Badly - is an adverb that describes verbs or answers the question of how.

6. can/may

Can - "is able to"

May - "asks permission to"

7. farther/further

Farther- use to denote physical distance.

Further- use to denote more or to a greater extent.

8. fewer/less

Fewer - use when the amount can be counted.

Less - use when something cannot be defined.

9. good/well

Good - an adjective it describes nouns or pronouns.

Well - usually an adverb that describes verbs and answers the question of how.

10. hopefully -

This is an adverb meaning "full of hope".

This has become an overused word. Do not use hopefully when it has no verb to modify.

A good rule of thumb is to substitute it with "full of hope" to see if the sentence makes sense.

Example 1: Hopefully, I waited by the mailbox. (Hopefully modifies how I waited thus this is correct)

Example 2: Hopefully, the phone will ring with an offer. (In this case, the phone cannot be full of hope. A better sentence would be; I hope my phone will ring with an offer.)

11. regardless/irregardless

Regardless of what you've been taught, "irregardless" is not Standard English.

12. than/then

Use "than" to show comparison.

Use "then" to show what comes after.

There are still many words that we might misuse but thankfully what we have now are writing tools that can help us eradicate them. MS Word got its basic spelling and grammar check, but I do recommend using Grammarly or ProWritingAid.

You can use them for free by clicking here. (Grammarly) (ProWritingAid)

Both of them serve the purpose of helping you write better and so much more.

I will do a comparison of them with other writing tools in my future blog.

Till next time...

Disclaimer: These links go to affiliate links where I'll earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

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