“Misusing words isn’t as bad as careless writing.” – These book authors tell you why… [Tuesdays: “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]
Everyday and every day.
In, on, and at.
Incoming, upcoming, and forthcoming.
These are just some of the words a lot of people often confuse and interchange with one another.
… and if you’re one of those who have been victims of misusing one of these words over the other, don’t fret. You’re not alone.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about some of the commonly misused words and phrases in the English language and explain the differences between each one of them.
To help you understand the proper usage of these words so you’ll lessen and avoid errors in the messages you’ll construct moving forward!
In the book, “The Elements of Style,” authors William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White said misusing words is not as bad as careless writing.
According to them, just because someone misused a word in a sentence, that doesn’t mean that person is a careless writer or has a bad writing style.
It may only be because that person misunderstood the meaning of a word or confused that word with a different one because of a similar spelling.
The good thing about this issue?
A misused word is easy to correct. Once a writer understands the meaning and proper usage of that word, he or she will remember that in the next writing task and avoid committing the same mistake again.
Let’s take a look at some of the commonly misused words and phrases listed down by Strunk Jr. and White in their book:
Words that should not be used as substitutes for one another:
Among and Between
Among: Use this word when referring to more than two things or persons involved in a sentence.
✓ The money was divided among the four heirs.
🗴 The money was divided among the two heirs.
Between: Use this word when only two things or persons are involved in a sentence or when more than two are involved but each are considered as separate entities.
✓ There is tension between the two team captains.
🗴 There is tension among the two team captains.
✓ There was an agreement between the four heirs.
🗴 There was an agreement among the four heirs.
Can and May
Can: This word is used to express ability.
✓ He can dance.
🗴 Can he be excused? (In this case, rather than asking if the person may be excused, it’s like asking if the person has an ability to be excused.)
May: This word is used to ask for permission or express possibility.
✓ May I have this dance?
🗴 May you see this stain on my shirt?
Most and Almost
Most: This word pertains to the superlative form of many.
✓ Most of us love singing.
🗴 Most everybody loves singing.
Almost: This word means approximate; close but not quite.
✓ Almost everybody loves singing.
🗴 This strategy will bring improvements in almost departments of the business.
Words or phrases that are often interchanged:
Effect and Affect
Effect: A noun that means “a change that results when something is done or happens.”
✓ The effects of the storm were devastating.
🗴 The accident effected their family’s mental health.
Affect: A verb that means “to produce an effect” or cause a change in someone or something.
✓ The weather affected his mood.
🗴 Exercise has positive affects on your health.
Farther and Further
Farther: This word is used to describe physical distances.
✓ Claire realized she swam farther than expected.
🗴 We need to discuss this matter farther.
Further: This word is used to describe figurative distances such as time and quantity.
✓ There were no further delays on the project.
🗴 We had to drive further than the map indicated.
Loan and Lend
Loan: A noun that means a thing that is borrowed, especially a sum of money that’s expected to be paid back with interest.
✓ Anna took a loan from the bank.
🗴 Loan me your ears.
Lend: A verb that means to grant someone the use of something on the understanding that it should be returned.
✓ Lend me your ears.
🗴 April went to the bank to ask for a USD 500,000 lend.
Incorrectly used words or phrases:
Irregardless: The correct form of this word is regardless. Having the prefix “ir” and the suffix “less” double negates the meaning of the word, thereby resulting in the positive word, “regard.”
✓ Regardless of the motives behind the crime, he is guilty.
🗴 Irregardless of the motives behind the crime, he is guilty.
In regards to and With regards to: The correct forms of these phrases are in regard to and with regard to. The word “regards” means “best wishes” so using that instead of “regard” will change the meaning of the phrases.
✓ I’m just calling to check on your project with regard to the matter I raised in our last meeting.
🗴 I’m just calling to check on your project with regards to the matter I raised in our last meeting.
✓ In regard to the recent break-in at our warehouse, the police are reviewing security footage to find more clues.
🗴 In regards to the recent break-in at our warehouse, the police are reviewing security footage to find more clues.
We hope explaining the differences and proper usage of these words helped clear some of the confusing copywriting concepts and thoughts in your head!
By taking note of these commonly misused words, you’ll lessen the chances of committing errors in your written content and you’ll be more confident in writing copies, cover letters, emails, and more.
Remember these guidelines in using the words above for your next set of drafts!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”
Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?
In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.
However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!
When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…
…to get people to remember.
Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.
And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!
Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.
Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.
Learn time-tested tactics that better capture the attention of your target audience, and maximize the benefits of great copywriting.
Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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