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