Friday, January 23, 2009

Fun Facts Friday - Word Usage

Everyone knows the English language is extremely complex. And even though as a writer I have a pretty good grasp on word usage, there are still plenty of words that trip me up. I used to struggle with affect and effect but one day a couple years ago it just clicked and I haven't had a problem with it since. But I continue to struggle with many others.

Here is a list of some common mistakes in word usage:

Accept: agree to take something. Ex: I will accept your proposal.
Except: not including. Ex: I like everything except pickles on my hamburger.

affect: (when used as verb) to act upon or influence. Ex: Don't let the weather affect your mood.
effect: (when used as noun) result. Ex: The sunny weather had a good effect on my mood.

All Together: Together, in a single group. Ex: The waiter asked if we were all together.
Altogether: Completely, or in total. Ex: I wasn't altogether happy with the decision.

amiable: generally pleasing Ex: Sue chose someone amiable to sit next to at the conference.
amicable: characterized by friendly goodwill; peaceable Ex: Sue had an amicable conversation with Joan.

appraise: set a price on Ex: Jane asked the jeweler to appraise her diamond necklace.
apprise: inform Ex: Matt wanted to be kept apprised of the situation.

callous: hardened Ex: The man had a calloused heart.
callus: hard area on skin. Ex: The man had a callus on his foot.

Complement: make something seem better or more attractive when combined. Ex: The comforter and curtains complement each other perfectly.
Compliment: a remark that expresses approval, admiration or respect. Ex: My husband gave me a nice compliment on my dress.

e.g.: for example. Ex: I bought some items at the office supply store (e.g., copy paper, a computer monitor, and a desk).
i.e.: that is. Ex: In February, we'll celebrate the holiday of love, i.e., Valentines, Day)

ensure: make sure, certain Ex: Susan had to ensure her child's safety.
insure: provide or obtain insurance on or for Ex: After the divorce, Susan had to medically insure herself.

Every Day: Each day, without exception. Ex: We to brush our teeth every day.
Everyday: Ordinary or unremarkable. Ex: It was just an everyday meeting.

Farther: Length or distance. Ex: Florida is farther south than Georgia.
Further: To a greater degree. Ex: The detective's murder case required further investigation.

lightning: what you don't want to be struck by Ex: Ron hurried off the golf course due to the lightning.
lightening: making lighter Ex: Rachel is thinking about lightening her hair.

Loose: If something isn't fixed properly or it doesn't fit, because it's too large. Ex: The shirt I bought at the mall is too loose.
Lose: when you do not know where something is, or it has been taken away from you. Ex: Karen held on tightly to her money because she didn't want to lose it.

Precede: to go before something or someone in time or space. Ex: Most parents precede their children in death.
Proceed: to continue as planned. Ex: If we want to finish this project, we'll need to proceed with the experiment.

Stationary: Standing still, or not moving. Ex: Sally rode her stationary bike every morning before work.
Stationery: Items needed for writing (paper, pens). Ex: It was the secretary's job to order the stationery.

So there's your mini writing lesson for the week. Accept this assignment: Go grab your stationery and use each of the preceding words in a sentence. Or take it a step further and come up with a few of the everyday words that trip you up.

1 comment:

scribe said...

Hi Linda,

Thanks for this. Very helpful. I got this info from Faithwriters. When a get a chance next week I'd like to link you to my editing blog at