Stop Making These 12 Word Choice Errors Once and for All

Stop Making These 12 Word Choice Errors Once and for All

Reader Comments (41)

  1. The “your” vs. “you’re” is always high on the list. One irksome misuse that I am seeing more and more in correspondence is “You’re welcome,” getting written incorrectly as “Your welcome.”

    “Thank you again for dinner!”
    “You’re welcome!”

    “Well, I see you bothered to show up.”
    “Your welcome sure doesn’t convey much hospitality.”

    • Never understood how it was possible to confuse “you’re” and “your” 🙂 It’s so clear and evident, no? And what’s even more awkward, I notice that it’s native speakers who confuse these two words, not ESL ones.

  2. #1 is a biggie for me Stefanie. I shall think “i” to be nice and “e” to add. Makes little sense but I will remember the concept and use each word properly. My compliments to you and this post 🙂

  3. I’ve always struggled with when to use “in to” versus “into.” Thanks for the quick tip!

  4. I still see its & it’s used incorrectly along with your and you’re.

    While not a word, I often google before using e.g. and i.e. to make sure I have the correct one.

    • I like to think of i.e. as “for instance,” where you just give brief instances to clarify or expand on your point.

      For e.g., I think of “for example,” where you would elaborate a bit more, with a district example.

      “I” for “instance” and “e” for “example.” 🙂

  5. Amounts versus quantities.

    While more cows can give more milk, the contrary condition needs two different words:

    FEWER cows give LESS milk.

    If you can count it, there are many. If some are missing, there are fewer.

    If you can’t, you probably have to measure it. Think of liquids or grains: a cup of milk is less than a quart.

  6. Their and there.
    Two, too and to
    And the infamous non-word regardless are my pet peeves.

  7. Looks to be another good viral grammar post from Copyblogger! Thanks Stefanie for sharing these helpful tips.

    Related to #1 is the common error of complementary vs complimentary.

    I noticed the error in my own subscriber welcome message! Complementary is something that completes. Complimentary has two meanings (which causes even more confusion and error) … One of which is something free. The other meaning is giving praise.

    I hope this is a complementary comment to your complimentary blog post!

  8. Saying Whenever for When…example “Whenever I was at church with you last Sunday…” referring to a specific event or time but using a non-specific term!

  9. I’m adding one of my favorites.

    To vs. Too vs. Two

    “To” is a preposition, which is generally followed by a noun or noun phrase. an example could: To be successful, you have to work hard.

    “Too” is an adverb that means “also.” an example could be: after I ate an banana, I ate a apple too.

    “Two” is a number. an example could be i have two apples.


    • Ravn,

      Those are great ones, but both “to” and “too” serve dual purposes.

      The examples you chose for “to” are indicating its use combined with a verb to make the infinitive verb form, such as “to be” and “to work” as you demonstrated. Examples of “to” combined with a noun (and often an article) are needed here as well: to the store, to a movie, to bed.

      “Too,” in addition to meaning “also” may indicate an extreme degree: It’s too hot in this room, and the test is too hard to take on too little sleep.

  10. I’m curious how you would differentiate “anyway” and “anyways”……
    I always use “anyway” without using the “s”. But am often confused as I find many educated people say “anyways” when used in context of subject changing.

  11. I’m not perfect, but it always surprises me. I have a few folks that are constantly using the word “hear” for “here”. I always tell them that “hear” should be used if it has to do with the “ear” (Can you hear me now?), and “here” is the opposite of “there” (I am here and you are there… or… If I am here, then I am not there.).

    …And they still mess it up. 🙁

  12. Hi Stefanie,

    Yes, learning how to use the words is more important than memorizing it’s meaning. Words are “the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

    As a writer, it is important not only to think about what you say, but how you say it. To communicate effectively, it is not enough to have well organized ideas expressed in complete and coherent sentences and paragraphs. One must also think about the style, tone and clarity of his/her writing, and adapt these elements to the reading audience.

    Lisa could have helped bill learn her phone no. by converting each individual number into a letter, since words are easy to memorize than numbers.

    I will tweet your post.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • I like the suggestion of converting the numbers into letters, Manish! That would have been a fun little game itself and perhaps an easier way to remember the numbers. 🙂

  13. Seriously, I found many of the native English bloggers doing the same wrong things time and time again. It sometimes proves to be too ugly for the posts that are really worth reading.

  14. “to” and “too” is the one that gets me. For the most part I understand it but it certain circumstances I just have to guess.

    • If you can find a way to remember “too” means “also” (and “to” never means “also”) that one should get a lot easier.

      “Also” means “in addition,” so it might help if you associate “in addition” with the two “o” letters in “too.” 🙂

  15. Great article, and helpful. It would appear that as were evolving, our speech is getting lazier. Im sure all of todays rules we have for syntax will be obsolete in 100 years. We’ll probably all just text each other.

  16. One that I’ve seen increasingly often (mainly on social media and in comments) is “could of” or “should of”.
    As in “She should of known that she had made a mistake.”

    The sentence doesn’t even make sense – it’s clearly supposed to be “could have”/”should have”. The mistake obviously comes about because the pronunciation of “could’ve”/”should’ve” is similar to “could of”/”should of”. It makes me wonder how little attention some people are paying to grammar these days…

    • It’s interesting how things we hear when we speak can turn into mistakes when we write.

      Another similar example is “beckon call” instead of “beck and call.”

  17. Great Post Stephanie! I was an English trainer for 4 years and the most common word choice error I have seen (that’s not already in this list) is between practice/ practise or advice/ advise.
    When you use it as a noun, its practice or advice; and when used as a verb, its practise or advise.
    Remember Cartoon Network (CN) – Ce for Noun; and Se for Verb 🙂

  18. Do you MAKE a decision or do you TAKE a decision?
    I hate to make generalizations, but I’ve noticed that ESL speakers often use “TAKE” in this usage, and I suspect that it’s something to do with the translation of TAKE from other languages or roots. Anyone have input into the proper usage of MAKE vs TAKE here?

    • That’s an interesting point, Mike.

      Since “make” and “take” certainly have different meanings in English, it also could just be an easy mistake for non-native speakers to make because they sound similar.

      For example, if I were learning French, I might mistakenly say “une amande” (an almond) when I meant to say “une amende” (a fine). They sound similar, so I might use them to mean the same thing even though they are two different words with two different meanings.

      So even though “make a decision” is correct, “take a decision” could seem like the same thing to someone who is getting familiar with those words. 🙂

  19. I often read these lists and it’s usually the same suspects on the rundown, but I admit: I had no idea about regard and regards! I have misused that in the past, for sure. And I’ve had to Google compliment vs. complement, but I like the little mnemonic tricks to keep them straight!

  20. Discreet/discrete; bath/bathe; loath/loathe; blonde/blond; brunette/brunet; breath/breathe …..

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