8 Very Common Word Usage Errors

In writing, we have all come across words that we’re not exactly sure whether or not we’re using properly. I thought I’d go over a few of the ones that had me baffled, and a couple that stiff do somewhat.

Off we go . . .

About vs. Around (in reference to time and numbers)

About (adverb, preposition, adjective): reasonably close (almost), in the vicinity (near),

Around (adverb, preposition, adjective): from one place to another, in every and any direction

Both words can mean with some approach to exactness (approximately).


The class starts about 10AM.
I gave it just about everything I had.

I’m gonna rock around the clock tonight.
It costs around $5.

I read something, somewhere that gave a much clearer understanding of using both words, but I can’t remember it. If anyone has an easier/clearer way to distinguish the two words in regard to time and number, please let us know. Boy, I wish my memory was better.

Affect versus Effect

Affect (verb): the conscious subjective of an emotion apart from bodily changes.

Effect (noun): basic meaning, intent, something that inevitably follows an antecedent, an outward sign, fulfillment, power to bring about a result, a distinctive impression.


Not knowing the skills needed might affect his chances of getting the position.
Getting an A might affect his parent’s future expectations.

The effects of the drug finally wore off.
Being punished had no effect on Timmy’s behavior.

I remember once reading that “affect” deals with the non-physical and “effect” deals with the physical. But, since one is a verb and the other a noun, that should be a helpful clue also.

All ready vs. Already

All ready:  done, completely ready.

Already (adverb):  by or before the given or implied time.


The students were all ready to go.
I already cooked dinner.

All Right vs. Alright

All right (adjective, adverb): satisfactory, safe, good.

Alright is a disputed variable of “all right.”


Is it all right to leave now?
All right, you can leave now.

Farther vs. Further

Farther (adverb, adjective): to a greater distance, extent, or point.

Further (adverb, adjective, transitive verb): farther, in addition, to a greater degree or extent.


He threw the ball farther than the last attempt.
The town is farther than I thought.

We need to research further for answers.
The more work I do, the further I get.

In a recent article at, an excellent description of the proper usage of both words is given:

“While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish ‘farther’ as physical distance and ‘further’ as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.”

Suppose vs. Supposed
Suppose (verb): to assume, to hold as an opinion, to ponder. According to the above mentioned article, “The correct way to express a duty is to write, “I was supposed to…”


Suppose I take the wrong turn, then what?
Do you suppose the green will look better than yellow?

He was supposed to have the job done already.
I supposed it would be done already.

Uninterested vs. Disinterested

Uninterested (adjective): not interested, indifferent.

Disinterested (adjective, transitive verb): unbiased, impartial.


He was uninterested in tennis.
The teen was uninterested and feel asleep at his desk.

The politician must be a disinterested party in making decisions.
Being disinterested allowed him to be fair.

Until vs. Till

Until (preposition, conjunction): used as a function word to indicate continuance (as of an action or condition) to a specified time (1)

Till (preposition, conjunction, transitive verb): the Webster’s New World Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary both list “till” as a variable of “until,” but I’ve been taught that it’s not okay to use it in place of “until.” If you think differently, please let us know.


He won’t get paid until he finishes the job.
The show doesn’t start until 6PM.

Provides definition, origin, examples, synonyms, antonyms, and even rhyming words
definitions, references, other languages

The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek


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