Welcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!!
Yes, the title is a play on WORDS. Get it? 😀
Building on Moira’s post yesterday, I thought I’d talk today about commonly misused words. It’s easy to do when you’re typing along, lost in your characters.
Yes, an editor will usually catch the mistake, but as an author, be on the lookout for these common, and not so common ones.
Accept is a verb meaning to receive. Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. I will accept all the packages except that one. Except is also a verb meaning to exclude. Please except that item from the list.
Affect is usually a verb meaning to influence. Effect is usually a noun meaning result. The drug did not affect the disease, and it had several adverse side effects. Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about. Only the president can effect such a dramatic change.
An Allusion is an indirect reference. An illusion is a misconception or false impression. Did you catch my allusion to Shakespeare? Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.
Capital refers to a city, capitol to a building where lawmakers meet. Capital also refers to wealth or resources. The capitol has undergone extensive renovations. The residents of the state capital protested the development plans.
Climactic is derived from climax, the point of greatest intensity in a series or progression of events. Climatic is derived from climate; it refers to meteorological conditions. The climactic period in the dinosaurs’ reign was reached just before severe climatic conditions brought on the ice age.
Elicit is a verb meaning to bring out or to evoke. Illicit is an adjective meaning unlawful. The reporter was unable to elicit information from the police about illicit drug traffic.
Emigrate from, Immigrate to:
Emigrate means to leave one country or region to settle in another. In 1900, my grandfather emigrated from Russia. Immigrate means to enter another country and reside there. Many Mexicans immigrate to the U.S. to find work.
Principal is a noun meaning the head of a school or an organization or a sum of money. Principle is a noun meaning a basic truth or law. The principal taught us many important life principles.
Than is a conjunction used in comparisons; then is an adverb denoting time. That pizza is more than I can eat. Tom laughed, and then we recognized him.
There, Their, They’re:
There is an adverb specifying place; it is also an expletive. Adverb: Sylvia is lying there unconscious. Expletive: There are two plums left. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction of they are. Fred and Jane finally washed their car. They’re later than usual today.
They’re is a contraction of they are. Sound out they are in the sentence and see if it works. If it does not, it must be one of the previous versions.
To, Too, Two:
To is a preposition; too is an adverb; two is a number. Too many of your shots slice to the left, but the last two were right on the mark.
Your is a possessive pronoun; you’re is a contraction of you are. You’re going to catch a cold if you don’t wear your coat.
Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. Its principal parts are lie, lay, lain. Lay is a transitive verb meaning to put or place. Its principal parts are lay, laid.
Set is a transitive verb meaning to put or to place. Its principal parts are set, set, set. Sit is an intransitive verb meaning to be seated. Its principal parts are sit, sat, sat. She set the dough in a warm corner of the kitchen. The cat sat in the warmest part of the room.
Who, Which, That:
Do not use which to refer to persons. Use who instead. That, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people. I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume. I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class. Where is the book that I was reading?
Supposed to: Do not omit the d. Suppose to is incorrect.
Used to: Same as above. Do not write use to.
Toward: There is no s at the end of the word.
Anyway: Also has no ending s. Anyways is nonstandard.
Couldn’t care less: Be sure to make it negative. (Not I could care less.)
All walks of life: Not woks of life. This phrase does not apply to oriental cooking.
Chest of drawers: Not chester drawers.
For all intents and purposes: Not intensive purposes.
When in doubt, a good dictionary should always be at hand when you’re writing. After all, you’re a writer! Use the tools of your trade wisely. 🙂