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Commonly Misspelled and Misused Words: Writing Review Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Misused Words

amount: use when you cannot count the items to which you are referring and when referring to singular nouns (for example, the amount of sunlight in the room)
number: use when you can count the items to which you are referring and when referring to plural nouns (for example, the number of stars in the sky)

anxious: use to mean nervous
eager: use to mean enthusiastic or looking forward to something

among: use when comparing or referring to three or more people or things
between: use when comparing or referring to just two people or things

can: use to state ability
may: use to state permission

Pace Yourself

Listen to people around you to hear how correctly, or often incorrectly, they use tricky words.

each other: use when referring to just two people or things
one another: use when referring to three or more people or things

e.g.: use as an abbreviation for the Latin phrase exempli gratia, meaning free example or for example
i.e.: use as an abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est, meaning it is or that is

feel bad: use when talking about physical ailments
feel badly: use when talking about emotional stress

fewer: use when you can count items (for example, The bucket holds fewer quarts of water.)
less: use when you cannot count the items (for example, That bucket holds less water.)

Pace Yourself

Decide whether you'd use fewer or less with each of these words.

      groceries
      orange juice
      fingers
      skin
      time
      trees
      grass

good: adjective that describes a person, place, or thing
well: adverb that describes an action or verb

its: belonging to it
it's: contraction of it is

lay: to place an item somewhere (for example, I lay the books on the table.)
lie: to recline or be placed (for example, The books lie on the table.)

that: pronoun that introduces a restrictive clause
which: pronoun that introduces a nonrestrictive clause

Pace Yourself

Make spelling flash cards. Put one word on each card and have someone quiz you twice a week.

Commonly Misspelled Words

absence argument completely
abundance awkward condemn
accidentally basically congratulations
accommodate boundary conscientious
acknowledgment bulletin consistent
acquaintance calendar convenient
aggravate canceled correspondence
alibi cannot deceive
alleged cemetery definitely
ambiguous coincidence dependent
analysis committee depot
annual comparative descend
desperate lenient quandary
development liaison questionnaire
dilemma lieutenant receipt
discrepancy lightning receive
eighth loophole recommend
eligible losing reference
embarrass maintenance referred
equivalent maneuver regardless
euphoria mathematics relevant
existence millennium religious
exuberance minuscule remembrance
feasible miscellaneous reservoir
February misspell responsible
fifth negotiable restaurant
forcibly ninth rhythm
forfeit occasionally ridiculous
formerly occurred roommate
fourth omission scary
fulfill opportunity scissors
grateful outrageous secretary
grievance pamphlet separate
guarantee parallel souvenir
guidance perceive specifically
harass permanent sufficient
hindrance perseverance supersede
ideally personnel temperament
implement possess temperature
independence potato truly
indispensable precede twelfth
inoculate preferred ubiquitous
insufficient prejudice usually
interrupt prevalent usurp
jealousy privilege vacuum
jewelry procedure vengeance
judgment proceed visible
leisure prominent Wednesday
length pronunciation wherever
Inside Track

Keep a dictionary handy. If you don't know how to spell something, look it up, or go online to find out.

Let's Recap

The English language is complicated. Many words sound the same and are spelled similarly, but have completely different meanings. One of your goals in writing your essay is to express yourself clearly, and knowing the right words to use is an essential part of reaching that goal.

Take some time to learn the word lists so that when you come across them in your writing, you'll know exactly what they mean and how to use them in a sentence. Your essay will be stronger in the end.

Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Commonly Misspelled and Misused Words: Writing Review Practice Exercises.

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