Archive for January 17th, 2010
Maybe some of you who are studying English as a second language, may be having a hard time grasping the language. Others don’t. I guess some persons have a natural-born disposition to learn languages, while others like me, struggle to learn the rules of the game.
Some words are so close to others in spelling or meaning that they cause confusion, time after time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to study the most common word mix-up’s, to avoid problems that irritate writers everywhere.
Just to dissipate some linguistic confusions, I’ve selected a few English words that are often used incorrectly . The next time you want to use them, you’ll know exactly what they mean and you won’t fall into the pitfalls of improper English. Here we go.
1. Affect and Effect: To affect is to produce an effect. Still confused? Affect is usually a verb meaning to impact or influence. It might help to remember that a is for action and e is for result.
a. Affect. Will the new medicine affect me?
b. Effect: The magnetic effect was greater when the rod was lengthwise.
2. Accept and Except: Accept is a verb, meaning to take willingly. Except is a preposition, meaning other than. Remember the phrase, I will accept any food except spinach. The words accept and except are in alphabetical order in that sentence.
a. Accept: I cannot accept the argument of this book.
b. Except: I’ll drink anything, except rum.
3. Conscience and Conscious: Have you ever been present when somebody fainted? It’s scary, because nobody knows which word to use. It’s that bad. Seriously, many well-educated people stumble over this one! Conscious is an adjective, meaning aware, awake, or sometimes on purpose. Use this one if somebody faints. It might help to think of other state of mind words that have the same ending, like serious, or delirious. Conscience is your sense of right and wrong. It rhymes with sense.
a. Conscience: After he killed the man, his conscience wouldn’t let him sleep at all.
b. Conscious: After he fell down on the sidewalk, he was always conscious.
4. Fewer and Less: If you can get this one right, you’ll be ahead of most of the English-speaking population. You’ll hear this mix-up all over the media. Few and fewer refer to objects that can be numbered. Less refers to a quantity of something non-specific. It might help to think of less as a lump word.
a. Fewer: Fewer birds migrated to Panama this year.
b. Less: Because of the drought, the cows produced less milk.
5. It’s and Its: The apostrophe in it’s poses a real problem for some people. Many people think of possession when they see it. But it’s is a contraction, meaning it is or it has. It might be helpful to think of the possessive pronoun its in a group with hers or his. No apostrophe.
a. It’s: At these prices, it’s impossible to make ends meet.
b. Its: He was so angry, he pounded its own body.
6. To and Too: This is probably the most common problem pair, but once you get the difference, it seems so simple. To is a preposition that indicates place or direction, but it also can be used in front of a verb to make an infinitive, like to eat or to swim. Too is an adverb meaning excessively or additionally. Either way, this word indicates an extra amount. Just think of the extra o in too.
a. To: I have to go to work every day.
b. Too: You’re coming from your friend’s parties too late. I have to talk to your father about it.
7. Whose and Who’s: This is a tough one for me. Again, the apostrophe in who’s creates confusion, because it tricks people into thinking it indicates possession. It doesn’t. Who’s is the contraction for who is while whose is the possessive form of who.
a. Whose: Whose turn is it to pitch the ball to the catcher?
b. Who’s: Who’s going to tell her parents about the accident?
If you can learn how to use these problem words correctly, you’ll certainly make a greater impression on your readers. Your blog will stand out and look so much more professional when you avoid common mix-up’s like it’s and its. Remember that practice makes perfection. Good Day.