You probably got a cheat sheet of these commonly misused words in your middle school language arts class. It’s time for a refresher course. As my friend, Jacob an essay writer from paperleaf.ca says: “Nothing screams “I have no idea what I’m doing!” worse than these easily avoidable mistakes.”
They’re, their, and there.
These words are probably the easiest homonyms to confuse in writing. Luckily, if seventh graders can master it, so can you.
They’re = they are. They’re going to the restaurant after the game.
Their = the possessive form of a group. They’re going to their favorite restaurant after the game.
There = a place. They’re going to their favorite restaurant over there by the bookstore after the game.
Your and you’re.
This one is so common, it was the punchline in an episode of Friends. Listen to Ross Gellar …. and me, too.
Your = the possessive of you. Your pants are on fire.
You’re = you are. Your pants are on fire because you’re a liar.
Where, were, we’re and wear.
You don’t where your clothes, and you don’t ask your friend were to meet you.
Where = a place, position, circumstance, etc. Where are all my chocolates?
Were = the plural of was. Where are all my chocolates? They were right here when I left.
We’re = we are. Where are all my chocolates? They were right here when I left. If I don’t find them, we’re going to have a problem.
Wear = to carry on the body. Where are all my chocolates? They were right here when I left. If I don’t find them, we’re going to have a problem. You’ll be wearing the chocolate when I’m done with you.
Accept and except.
We don’t except the Discover card, accept if you pay a deposit.
Accept = to take, receive, agree to, or consent to. I accept that you and I will never be.
Except = excluding; otherwise. I accept that you and I will never be, except that I may just stalk you for a while. (That’s okay, right?)
Affect and effect.
Don’t let this blog post effect you too much. The writers are trying to produce an affect on your writing through humor.
Affect = to act on, influence, or change. The cold weather affects my arthritis.
Effect = the product yielded from the aforementioned affect. The cold weather affects my arthritis; in effect, I grumble at everyone all day.
Site and cite.
…And this one doesn’t even go into all the trouble you could get into if you start confused side with site. That’s a completely different issue, one that involves some therapy.
Site = the position, location, or area. Also a website. I check this particular site, prowritingtips.com, for every research paper I have to write.
Cite = to quote or mention. I check this particular site, prowritingtips.com, for every research paper I have to write. I better not forget to cite my source, or I’ll get busted for plagiarism.
Council and counsel.
Is it the City Council, or the City Counsel? Is that guy a school counselor, or a school councilor? Both depend on giving advice, but in different forms. If they don’t give good advice, then feel free to find a completely different word for them.
Council = a bunch of people grouped together to debate issues. The City Council meets once a month.
Counsel = to give your opinion, or if you have a law degree, legal advice. (Don’t do it without the law degree, though. Just ask the people who made Quicken WillMaker.) The City Council meets once a month. In their meetings, they counsel the City Manager on important issues.
Side note: A councilor is a member of council. A counselor is a lawyer or a psychologist. Neither usually have worthwhile opinions.
Its and it’s.
My husband knows why this bothers me so. Even the most brilliant of people mistake these two. Don’t be one of them. Well, just the brilliant part.
Its = the possessive of it. This teddy bear is creepy; its eyes are coming out of its head.
It’s = it is. This teddy bear is creepy; its eyes of coming out of its head. I think it’s time to throw it away.
Lose and loose.
You can’t loose your car keys. I am not a looser. And I will not losen your belt.
Lose = to misplace or not have something anymore. If you say that one more time, I’ll lose my mind!
Loose = not tight. If you say that one more time, I’ll lose my mind! There are already a few screws loose, anyway.
Then and than.
If you can’t get these, than you have some more work to do. Nothing is easier to understand then these.
Then = a marker of time. Back then, gas was only $2 a gallon.
Than = used in comparisons. Back then, gas was only $2 a gallon. I’d rather pay $2 than $4!
To, too, and two.
Who mistakes “to” and “2″? That takes skill.
To = a preposition for motion or direction. I’m giving my old little black book to you.
Too = in addition to. I’m giving my old little black book to you. I’ll give you some pictures, too.
Two = 2. I’m giving my old little black book to you. I’ll give you some pictures, too. There are at least two girls in there that I know you’ll like.
Off and of.
Nothing turns a reader of to your work faster than this mistake.
Off = not on. Turn the light off when you leave a room.
Of = a preposition of direction or source. Turn the light off when you leave a room. I’m not made out of money!
A, an, and and.
I don’t usually see goofs with “a” and “and.” It’s usually either “a” and “an” or “an” and “and.” Geez, that’s a lot of a’s.
A = an article that is not specific and comes before words that begin with consonants. I would like a new CD.
An = an article that is not specific and comes before words that begin with vowels or vowel sounds. I would like a new CD, or an iPod.
And = in addition to. I would like a new CD and an iPod.
Side note: you use “and” when you’re adding a new item, whether it starts with a consonant or a vowel. That “Wheel of Fortune” type stuff is reserved specifically for distinguishing “a” and “an.” You would not say that you have a cat an a dog. It’s always “and.”
Here and hear.
Can you here me? I’m talking to you! Listen up, because I’m almost done hear.
Here = in this place, time, or position. I’m sitting here, writing this post.
Hear = to have sounds in your ear. I’m sitting here, writing this post. I hope you hear the sarcasm in most of these examples; otherwise, you’ll be making some pretty silly mistakes.
I and me.
Nothing grates on my nerves more than to see a picture on someone’s MySpace or Facebook page, with 2 people in the picture, and the caption reads “Sam and I at the mall.” So, if Sam weren’t there, it would just be “I at the mall”? No!
I = the singular pronoun, when the speaker is talking about himself, and is used as the subject of the sentence. I am going to the store.
Me = the singular pronoun, when the speaker is talking about himself, and is used as the object of the sentence. I am going to the store. Would you like to come with me?
Side note: When trying to figure out whether to use “I”or “me,” change it around to see if it makes sense. For instance, saying “Me am going to the store” would be incorrect, as would “Would you like to come with I?” When dealing with the compound subject (case in point: the above referenced picture captions), take out the other subject and see if it makes sense. If you want to say “Sam and I at the Statue of Liberty,” try taking Sam out. Then you just have “I at the Statue of Liberty.” That’s wrong. But, if you use “Sam and me at the Statue of Liberty,” and you take poor Sam out again, you have “Me at the Statue of Liberty.” Ding ding ding!
I’m thinking of writing an entire article on this one mistake. Nothing bugs me more. But I guess that’s because of the inordinate amount of time I spend looking at people’s pictures on MySpace and Facebook. And no, that’s not creepy. Its research. I mean…. it’s research.
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