Monday

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).

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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.”

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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 http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/life/10-common-errors-spell-check-won-t-catch-2039083/#poll-86A687227A3211DF922CE2CA55AE989C, 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…”

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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.

Examples:

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

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Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/about
Provides definition, origin, examples, synonyms, antonyms, and even rhyming words

http://www.wordreference.com/definition/about%20vs%20around
definitions, references, other languages

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/until

The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek


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MORE ON WRITING

A Ghostwriter’s Uses – Part 1
How do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Copy Editing, Line Editing, and Substantive Editing

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