That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

imagesL95NB2TU There are so many misused words out there I couldn’t possibly list them all, so I concentrated on the ones that I have problems with

I’m sure you have words that would make the list as well 🙂

a lot, alot, allot: There is no such word as alot.  A great number is a lot. If you mean allocate, you use allot.

advice, advise: Advice is what you get, advise is what you do.

aggravate, annoy: If you mean pester or irritate, use annoy. Aggravate means to make worse.

all ready, already: If you mean all is ready, use all ready; if you mean in the past, use already. It already happened.

all right, alright: All right is always two words.

all together, altogether: All together means simultaneously. Altogether means entirely or wholly.

among, between: If only two people are dividing something use between. If more than two people are dividing something use among.

appraise, apprise: Appraise is to give value; apprise is to inform.

bazaar, bizarre: Bazaar is a marketplace; bizarre is strange, weird.

cavalry, Calvary: Cavalry are soldiers; Calvary is the place Christ was crucified.

can, may: Can-physically able to do something; may-you have permission.

climactic, climatic: Climactic refers to a climax; climatic is related to the weather.

council, counsel: Council is an official group or committee; counsel is to give advice.

elicit, illicit: Elicit something is to extract it, bring it out; illicit is illegal.

fewer, less: Fewer means not as many, it is used with countable nouns (cookies, gallons of gas, cars); less means not as much and is used with uncountable nouns (gasoline, money, cake).

forego, forgo: Forego is used for something that has gone before (a foregone conclusion); forgo to do without.

imply, infer: A speaker implies something; a listener infers.

lead, led: Led means in charge of or guided; otherwise use lead.

literally, figuratively: Literally means precisely as described; figuratively means in a symbolic or metaphoric way.

nauseated, nauseous: Nauseous means disgusting; nauseated means sick to your stomach.

set, sit: Set is to place something – there has to be an object; sit is going from standing to sitting in a chair.

Stationery, stationary: Stationery is paper you write on; stationary is something that lacks motion.

supposed to: I included this one because people incorrectly omit the d.

than, then: If you mean next, therefore, or at that time, use then; if you want the word that shows a comparison, use than.

that, which: For clauses that don’t need commas, use that. For nonrestrictive clauses, which need commas, use which.

your, you’re: Your means belonging to. You’re is short for you are.

What words do you misuse?

-Jan R





That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

12 thoughts on “That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

  1. I did not know ‘forego and forgo’. Thank you for the clarification.
    However, I do not agree with your explanation of ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. I find it confusing. I prefer to say that ‘fewer’ refers to things you count while ‘less’ refers to things you measure.
    e.g. The hens laid fewer eggs today than yesterday,
    Manufacturers of fizzy drinks now put less sugar in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “All right is always two words.” Perhaps if we keep saying this, eventually they’ll believe us.

    “Literally means precisely as described; figuratively means in a symbolic or metaphoric way.” I don’t think we can win this one; anyone who insists that literally does not and cannot mean specifically and only not literally is now seen as hopelessly pedantic, if not worse, because Teh Internetz say literally means figuratively (except, of course, when the word is being used to accuse someone of “always taking everything literally”).

    “Nauseous means disgusting; nauseated means sick to your stomach.” Good one. I have a habit of using nauseated to describe feeling sick, and soooooo many people correct me on it.

    Liked by 2 people

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