Some commonly confused words

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I read a LOT – there is honestly nothing I love more than reading a good mystery or thriller. I find a few typos in print books by really famous authors I collect, as well as on web pages and posts to social media sites.

When I am reading for pleasure instead of for “work” as a proofreader and editor , I try my best to ignore the errors and just enjoy the reading, BUT the proofreader in me is always at least lurking in the background.

I love the articles from DailyWritingTips and save some to use as a guest post here on my blog. Some of the words in one article on miss-used words are also ones that even Microsoft Word’s spellchecker do not catch so it is very important, to ME, anyway, to know which instance of the word works where.

Here are some from the article that I see used incorrectly a lot AND spell check does not usually catch them:

1. a while / awhile: “A while” is a noun phrase; awhile is an adverb.

2. all together / altogether: All together now — “We will refrain from using that two-word phrase to end sentences like this one altogether.”

3. amend / emend: To amend is to change; to emend is to correct.

4. amount / number: Amount refers to a mass (“The amount saved is considerable”); number refers to a quantity (“The number of dollars saved is considerable”).

5. between / among: The distinction is not whether you refer to two people or things or to three or more; it’s whether you refer to one thing and another or to a collective or undefined number — “Walk among the trees,” but “Walk between two trees.”

6. biannual / biennial: Biannual means twice a year; biennial means once every two years.

7. bring / take: If it’s coming toward you, it’s being brought. If it’s headed away from you,
it’s being taken.

8. compare to / compare with: “Comparing to” implies similarity alone; “compare with” implies contrast as well.

9. compliment / complement: To compliment is to praise; to complement is to complete.

10. comprise, consist of / compose, constitute: Comprise means “include,” so test by replacement — “is included of” is nonsense, and so is “is comprised of.” The whole comprises the parts or consists of the parts, but the parts compose or constitute the whole.

11. connote / denote: To connote is to convey (“Air quotes connote skepticism or irony”);
to denote is to specify (“A stop sign denotes the requirement to halt”).

12. continual / continuous: Continual events are frequently repeated, or intermittent. Continuous events are uninterrupted, or constant.

13. credible / credulous: To be credible is to be authoritative; to be credulous is to be gullible.

14. deserts / desserts: If you eat only cake, pie, ice cream, and the like, you eat just desserts. If you have it coming to you, you get your just deserts as well. (However, the connotation is negative, so hit the gym.)

there were 50 “common words and phrases” in this article, but these are the ones that really struck me as occurring quite often and I wanted to share them with you. The entire article with all 50 is here: 50 Problem Words and Phrases.

Spelling & Grammar Errors Can Really Be Costing You Business!

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4 Responses to “Some commonly confused words”

  1. Ray Says:

    Probably not a bad page to have bookmarked for any of us who write quite a bit…

  2. kate Says:

    Nice , there are words that can be confusing. And to name a few it’s on your list. thanks for this.
    kate´s latest blog post Revitol Eye Cream Review

  3. Jan Tallent Says:

    thanks, Kate – I am amazed when I see these errors on the big, famous company web sites – want to email them and tell them they need my proofreading services but do not for fear of it being taken as spam.
    Jan Tallent´s latest blog post Getting back into the Swing

  4. jan.kevin Says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. I was impressed for you because this is the first time I just have realize that their are big errors in some big company eventhough they are good enough.

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Over the past 17+ years, Jan Tallent has spent countless hours providing writers and webmasters with free friendly tips on how to correct spelling and grammar errors in their written material.

From the feedback received she decided that since proofreading and editing help was so desperately needed, she should build a business around something she enjoys doing, while at the same time providing a valuable service to business owners and writers.

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