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It's only words

  • Published at 08:01 pm September 29th, 2016
It's only words
Have you ever read a story or an article that flowed like a symphony, only to find a misused word or phrase that strikes a jarring note, spoiling the whole thing? Do you ever worry that your writing has the same problem? Here's a handy cheat sheet of commonly misused words to help you avoid such pitfalls Lie vs Lay To “lie” means to rest on something. Eg “The phone was lying on the table” To “lay” means to place something somewhere. Eg. “Travis Bickle lay his guns down on the floor.” When you're talking about placing yourself in a position of rest, consider “I want to lie down for a bit” or “I want to lay me down for a bit”. The second is a little more purple, but still works. Fewer vs Less Use “fewer” when you're talking about tangible items, i.e., things you can count. Eg. “There were fewer boys than girls enrolled in the English department. Use “less” when you're talking about things you can't count. “Adding potatoes to an over-salted curry makes it less salty.” Farther vs Further “Farther” refers to a physical distance. Eg. “The store is located much farther than you think.” “Further talkes about advancement. Eg. “Please notify the doctor if you experience further pains.” Accept vs Except These two words are totally different in meaning. To “accept” something is to receive it or agree to it. E.g. “Leo accepted his Academy Award to thunderous applause.” “Except” refers to an exemption, or non-inclusion. E.g. “Everyone was smiling, except Rhona.” Affect vs Effect One's a verb, the other a noun. To “affect” something is to influence it. E.g “Global warming will affect the coastal regions the most”. An “effect” is the result of an event or action. E.g. “The effect of the red lipstick was instant and dramatic.” Loose vs. Lose This one's a personal peeve. “Loose” is the opposite of tight; it means relaxed, roomy. E.g: “He had lost so much weight, his clothes were hanging loose on his body.” To “lose” something (possibly something that is loose) is to not be able to find it, or to experience defeat. E.g: “If I lose that ring, my family will never forgive me!”
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