December 16, 2015 - Posted toCatchy topics for your research papers
Commonly Misused Words
Those of us who write for a living work very hard to say what we mean clearly and to watch our grammar, spelling, and word use. And those who do not write for a living – students, career pros and such – still have to write, sometimes more than they would like. Everyone who writes has word “fails” – those times when they use the wrong word. These can be a bit embarrassing, especially if we have already clicked “submit” or “send” before we realize our mistakes. And sometimes we use the wrong word because we just do not know the difference between two or three words. Here is a list of common word “fails” that you will want to avoid.
There, Their, They’re
There = a place. “I will be going there tomorrow.
Their = possession. “I will be going to their house tomorrow.
They’re = contraction meaning “they are.” “They’re going to be out of town.
Your = possession. “I will get your coat for you.”
You’re = contraction meaning “you are.” “Let me know when you’re ready.”
Lie = something you do. “I am going to lie down for an hour.”
Lay = something you do to something. “I will lay this note here on the counter.”
Now, this one is tricky. The past tense of “lie” is “lay.” So, if you took a nap yesterday to get rid of your headache, you would say, “I lay down for an hour and my headache went away.” It may not sound right, but it is correct.
Effect = a noun. “This factory shut down will have a terrible effect on the town.”
Affect = a verb. “How will the factory shut affect the town?”
Criterion = singular. “There is only one criterion for admission.”
Criteria = plural. “We consider several criteria when determining admission.”
Implied = something a speaker does. “He implied that there was more still to come.”
Inferred = something a listener does. “He inferred from the discussion that the building would be demolished.”
Hone = to sharpen. “He is honing his skills in archery.”
Home = to move toward. “The bee homed in on its target.”
Proscribe = to forbid. “The policy proscribed guests from carrying weapons.”
Prescribe = direct or recommend. “He was prescribed an antibiotic for his cold.”
Phenomenon = singular. “A winter tornado is a rare phenomenon.”
Phenomena = “Many unexplained phenomena have occurred in that house.”
Homogeneous = same or similar. “The island’s population was quite homogeneous.”
Homogenous = not a word. The word homogenized is correct. It refers to the process by which cream is taken from milk.
Shrink, Shrank, Shrunk
Shrink = present tense. “The dryer may shrink this shirt.”
Shrank = past tense. “The dryer shrank my shirt yesterday.”
Shrunk = past participle. “The dryer has shrunk many things.”
The same goes for spring, stink, and sink.
Appraise = to determine value. “The jewelry will need to be appraised.”
Apprise = to inform. “I will apprise him of your decision.”
Mute = silent. “He is going to mute the TV while you take the phone call.”
Moot = debatable. “The cause of the sink hole is a moot point.”
Bemused = confused. “I was bemused by his explanation.”
Amused = entertained. “I was amused by his silly explanation.”
Adverse = harmful. “The drought in California will have an adverse effect on food prices all over the globe.”
Averse = dislike. “I am averse to turning that old train station into a museum.”
You can probably come up with a number of other words or word pairs that are often misused by yourself or others. It’s a good idea to just check your online dictionary if you have any doubts at all.