All too common grammatical errors

All too often I see people use words in the wrong context. As a writer/editor, this really frustrates me.

Below are all too common grammatical errors that grind my gears.

Loose when it should be lose Loose refers to something that is free from anything that binds or restrains, while lose refers to the loss of something.

Example sentences:  Due to budget cuts, it’s likely that a number of people will lose their jobs.

 I fell over in the middle of the street yesterday because of a loose shoelace.

Too when it should be toToo means to an excessive degree, while to is used for expressing motion towards something.

Example sentences:  I went to the shops this morning tget some milk so I could have some cereal for breakfast.

I didn’t attend the big networking event yesterday because I felt too sick.

Advise when it should be adviceAdvise is the act of giving counsel, while advice is a recommendation.

Example sentences:  The best piece of advice I was ever given was to never stop learning.

 I strongly advise that you seek some help before your problems get out of hand.

Affect when it should be effectAffect refers to causing change, while effect is the result of an action.

Example sentences:  The events of the week had a clearly negative effect on him.

Ongoing protests won’t affect the staging of this weekend’s Labor Party Conference.

Than when it should be then.Than can be used to introduce the rejected choice, while then can be used to separate a set of events.

Example sentences: I would rather walk to work than use public transport.

Last night we went out to dinner and then we went and saw the new Ben Stiller movie.

Their when it should be thereTheir implies possession, while there can be used to indicate a place.

Example sentences: I enjoyed my time overseas but there is no place like home.

It has been rather noisy in our neighbourhood lately because our next door neighbours are renovating their house.

Its when it should be it’sIts implies possession, while it’s is a contraction of it is.

Example sentences: It’s pointless dwelling on things that are out of your control.

If the Federal Government had its way, internet gambling would be illegal.

Accept when it should be exceptAccept means to receive, while except means excluding.

Example sentences: Everyone attended the meeting except myself as I was feeling a little under the weather.

I am hopeful that she will accept my invitation to dinner tomorrow night.

Elicit when it should be illicitElicit means to bring out, while illicit means not legally permitted.

Example sentences: It took several hours of questioning to elicit the truth out of the suspect.

Illicit drugs are a serious problem in our society.

Emigrate when it should be immigrate. Emigrate means to leave one country or region to settle in another, while immigrate means to enter another country and settle there.

Example sentences: A lot of people immigrate to America to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

In 1947, my grandfather decided to emigrate from the United Kingdom.

Passed when it should be pastPassed means to have completed the act of passing, while past refers to time that has already gone by.

Example sentences: There is no point dwelling on the past.

I am so happy because I passed my driving test yesterday.

Quiet when it should be quite. Quiet means making no noise or sound, while quite means to a considerable degree.

Example sentences: quite agreed with the review of last night’s theatre performance.

It was nice to get away from the city for the weekend for some peace and quiet.

Weather when it should be whetherWeather refers to the state of the atmosphere in terms of temperature, wind and the like, while whether is used to introduce the first of two or more alternatives.

Example sentences: I don’t know whether to go to the movies or the beach tomorrow.

I’m hoping the weather will be nice and sunny for tomorrow’s yard sale.

Complement when it should be complimentComplement is something that adds to something, while compliment is something nice someone says about you.

Example sentences: I am feeling really good about myself today because I received a compliment about my new hairstyle.

Dry white wine is the perfect complement to a meal featuring fish.

Literally when it should be figurativelyLiterally is when something actually occurs, while figuratively means as a figure of speech.

Example sentences: I am figuratively on cloud nine after landing my dream job.

literally jumped for joy when West Coast won the premiership in 2006.

Sight when it should be siteSight refers to the act of seeing, while site refers to the location of a town, building, etc.

Example sentences: Looking down from the top of a mountain is such a beautiful sight.

The town hall will be the perfect site for next month’s Small Business Development Conference.

Whose when it should be who’sWhose is the possessive form of who, while who’s is a contraction of who is.

Example sentences: Authorities don’t know who’s responsible for the fire that destroyed several homes over the weekend.

I’m not sure whose turn it is to mow the lawn.

Any more when it should be anymoreAny more is used when talking about quantity, while anymore is used when talking about time.

Example sentences: Due to a heart condition, Bob won’t be working anymore.

I don’t plan on buying any more shoes in the near future.

Allusion when it should be illusion. Allusion is an indirect reference to something, while illusion is a false impression of reality.

Example sentences: The company’s growth turned out to be an illusion.

The courtroom scene in the Seinfeld episode entitled “The Caddy” features an allusion to the O.J. Simpson trial.

Brought when it should be boughtBrought means to have taken something with you, while bought means to have purchased something.

Example sentences: I brought a nice bottle of red wine to the company Christmas party last night.

I’m looking forward to testing out the new golf clubs I bought.

Worse when it should be worst. Worse is used when saying something is inferior to another in quality or condition, while worst is used when referring to something as being the most unsatisfactory.

Example sentences: It was the worst movie I have ever seen.

There is nothing worse than someone who has bad manners.

Discreet when it should be discreteDiscreet means subtle, while discrete means separate.

Example sentences: The company’s website features discrete sections for shareholders and investors.

Kim Kardashian was not-so-discreet about her wedding to NBA player Kris Humphries.

Ensure when it should be insureEnsure means to guarantee, while insure means to secure indemnity in case of loss, damage or death.

Example sentences: All businesses should insure themselves against public liability claims.

In order to ensure your business will be a success, you must learn the art of networking.

Peak when it should be pique. Peak is the pinnacle of something, while pique means to arouse interest.

Example sentences: It took us a good two hours to reach the peak of the mountain.

Word of mouth was enough to pique my interest in the drama series Breaking Bad.

We’re when it should be were. We’re is a contraction of we are, while were is the plural past tense of the verb are.

Example sentences: We were going to go to the beach today but unfortunately it was raining.

We’re looking forward to spending Christmas in America.

Climactic when it should be climatic. Climactic refers to the highest point of intensity in a series of events, while climatic refers to meteorological conditions.

Example sentences: It is important to take into account the climatic conditions of an area in which a house is to be built.

Daniel LaRusso’s climactic crane kick to his opponent is my favourite scene from the movie “The Karate Kid.”

Less when it should be fewer. Less is used when talking about things that can’t be counted, while fewer is used when talking about things that can be counted.

Example sentences: In 25 words or fewer tell us why you need a holiday.

You will feel a lot better about things if your living space is less-cluttered.

Whole when it should be hole. Whole means comprising the full quantity, while hole means an opening through something.

Example sentences: A burst main left a gaping hole in a busy Brisbane street.

We spent the whole day looking for the perfect destination for our next holiday.

Precede when it should be proceed. Precede means to go before, while proceed means to move forward.

Example sentences: The company will proceed with legal action against its ISP for the irreversible loss of data.

Anxiety disorders precede eating disorders according to an Australian study.

Device when it should be devise. Device refers to something that is designed for a particular purpose, while devise refers to the act of developing an idea, system, plan or product.

Example sentences: It’s a must for every business to devise a strategy on how they’re going to best connect with their target audience.

The TV remote is without a doubt my favourite device.

Choose when it should be chose. Choose means to make a choice or selection, while chose is the past tense of choose.

Example sentences: I chose to enter the world of small business ownership.

A lot of couples choose to be child-free.

Decent when it should be descent. Decent means of an acceptable standard, while descent refers to the act of moving from a higher to a lower position.

Example sentences: The scariest part about climbing Mt Tibrogargan was the steep descent.

I like to start every morning with a decent cup of coffee.

Desert when it should be dessert. Desert is an area that is covered with sand and is without water and vegetation. It can also mean to abandon, while dessert is a sweet food served after dinner.

Example sentences: Apple pie with icecream is my favourite dessert.

Nights tend to be very cold in the desert.

Knew when it should be newKnew is the past tense of know, while new refers to something that has been introduced for the first time, or something that is already existing but has been seen, experienced or acquired recently or for the first time.

Example sentences: I’m looking forward to testing out my new shoes on the basketball court this weekend.

This world would be a much better place if more people knew that there’s more to life than self.

Fare when it should be fair. Fare is what you pay for transport, while fair means to be unbiased.

Example sentences: The accused is hopeful of getting a fair trial.

It’s ridiculous how much I have to pay for a taxi fare to the airport.

Allowed when it should be aloud. Allowed means permitted to do something, while aloud means out loud.

Example sentences: Reading aloud improves a child’s confidence.

Every child should be allowed to enjoy their childhood.

Overdo when it should be overdue. Overdo means to do too much, while overdue means past the due date.

Example sentences: One of the most frustrating aspects of being a small business owner is chasing overdue bills.

You should never overdo weight training as it will do more harm than good.

Stationary when it should be stationery. Stationary means not moving, while stationery refers to writing materials.

Example sentences: Our company’s logo is on all of our stationery.

I enjoy working out on a stationary bike.

Ad when it should be add. Ad is short for advertisement, while add means to join something with something else.

Example sentences: Food tastes better when you add salt.

I found the Coles ad featuring Curtis Stone and Normie Rowe to be cringeworthy.

Hear when it should be here. Hear means to sense sound, while here means this place.

Example sentences: I would rather be anywhere but here. 

One of my favourite things about camping is being able to hear the waves crashing as I sleep.

Council when it should be counsel. Council is a body of persons selected to act in an advisory, administrative or legislative capacity, while counsel means to give advice to someone.

Example sentences: A social worker may counsel university students who are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or relationship problems.

The Clean Energy Council is the peak body representing Australia’s clean energy sector.

Disinterested when it should be uninterested. Disinterested means impartial, while uninterested means not having any interest in something.

Example sentences: I find myself to be utterly uninterested in soccer.

All good umpires must be disinterested.

Seen when it should be scene. Seen is the past participle of see, while scene refers to a place, view or a part of a film or play.

Example sentences: My favourite scene in the movie 8 Mile was the final rap battle.

Breaking Bad is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen.

Dyed when it should be died. Dyed means to have coloured something, while died means to have ceased living.

Example sentences: It was a sad day for many when Princess Diana died.

Emma Stone was much more attractive before she dyed her hair blonde.

Mourning when it should be morning. Mourning is the act of expressing sorrow for the loss of something, while morning refers to the period of the day extending from midnight until noon.

Example sentences: I like to start my morning with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Mourning the loss of a pet seems trivial to some people.

Poor when it should be pour. Poor means lacking in a specified resource, while pour means to send a liquid flowing from one place to another.

Example sentences: I pour myself a glass of orange juice every single day.

It is not uncommon for a child to miss out on a proper education because their family is too poor to pay for their schooling costs.

No when it should be know. No is used to express dissent, denial or refusal, while know means to be familiar with someone or something.

Example sentences: I know that Eminem’s real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III.

I can’t say no to a glass of scotch.

Aid when it should be aide. Aid means to offer help, assistance or support, while aide refers to someone who is an assistant.

Example sentences: If you want a rewarding career, you should consider working as a teacher’s aide.

It was touching to see how many people offered aid to those affected by the Queensland floods.

Soar when it should be sore. Soar means to rise or ascend to a great height, while sore refers to aches, pains and wounds.

Example sentences: My legs were so sore after climbing that mountain yesterday.

A study says cancer rates are likely to soar due mainly to an increasingly westernised diet.

His when it should be he’s. His implies possession, while he’s is a contraction of he is.

Example sentences: He’s going to find it very difficult to pass his end of year exams if he doesn’t start to knuckle down and study.

Thomas always took his basketball with him to school so he could practice his shooting before class.

Lead when it should be led. Lead means to be in charge or in front, while led is the past tense of lead.

Example sentences: Miami took a 3-1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals with a 104-98 win on Wednesday.

Timothy led the company to a bigger than expected profit.

Duel when it should be dual. Duel means a contest between two people or parties, while dual means double.

Example sentences: Steve Nash is a dual NBA MVP.

I am looking forward to West Coast’s next duel against Collingwood.

Lesson when it should be lessen. Lesson refers to a period of learning, while lessen means to reduce.

Example sentences: You can lessen your electricity bill by turning off appliances when they’re not in use.

I was very nervous the first time I went for a driving lesson.

Roll when it should be role. Roll means to move by turning over and over on an axis, while role means a function assumed or part played by a person in a certain situation.

Example sentences: West Coast has performed well so far this season despite a heavy injury toll because every player has fulfilled their role.

Zorbing involves being strapped inside a giant clear plastic ball before you roll down a hill.

Revue when it should be review. Revue is a form of theatrical entertainment in which current events, popular fads, etc are parodied, while review refers to the process of going over something with the possibility of instituting change.

Example sentences: The company intends to conduct a review of its operations after a fall in half-yearly earnings for the first time in a decade.

The AFL Footy Show’s annual grand final player revue always manages to entertain.

Prise when it should be prize. Prise means to force something open, while prize is a thing given as a reward to someone for winning something.

Example sentences: First prize in the local cake bake-off is a Kenwood Chef Mixmaster.

Thieves prised the door open with a crowbar.

Grizzly when it should be grisly. The noun grizzly refers to a large brown bear, while the adjective grizzly means streaked with grey. Grisly means gruesome.

Example sentences: A crime scene has been established following the grisly discovery of human remains in the D’Aguilar National Park.

Men with grizzly hair are often called distinguished.

Lightening when it should be lightning. Lightening means to make lighter in weight or colour, while lightning refers to an electrical discharge in the atmosphere.

Example sentences: Few things sound better than a bolt of lightning.

Lightening the load for those who take care of the elderly and the disabled should be a top priority.

Mute when it should be moot. Mute means not emitting sound of any kind, while moot means having no practical significance.

Example sentences: For me, choosing between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini is a moot point because there’s no way that I could afford either.

I always put the TV on mute when I am talking on the phone.

Buy when it should be by. Buy means to purchase something, while by is a preposition meaning near to or next to.

Example sentences: One of the good things about Spring Hill is that there are plenty of good cafes close by.

I really want to buy myself some new clothes.

Right when it should be write. Right means in accordance with what is proper, while write means to put words, symbols, numbers, etc on a surface with a pen, pencil or other similar instrument.

Example sentences: I prefer to write with a pen than a pencil.

Thomas elected to hand the two $100 notes he found in the middle of the street in to police because he knew it was the right thing to do.

Fore when it should be for. Fore means situated or placed in front, while for is a preposition which means to be in support of something or someone.

Example sentences: I am all for gay couples getting married.

Scores were level in the final term but the Eagles’ class came to the fore as they piled on five of the last six goals of the contest to record a 23-point victory.

Capitol when it should be capitalCapitol refers to a building in which a state legislature meets, while capital means the most important city in a region. It also refers to a city which is regarded as having special eminence in a field, and can also be used when talking about wealth in the form of money or other assets used for a particular purpose, such as starting a business or investing.

Example sentences: Milan is the fashion capital of the world.

The Washington State Capitol is the home of the government of the state of Washington.

Principal when it should be principle. Principal means first in order of importance, while principle refers to an accepted rule of conduct.

Example sentences:  A long-held principle of mine is to treat others the way you want to be treated.

James was the principal contributor to the establishment of the new company.

Infer when it should be implyInfer means to conclude from evidence, while imply means indicate or suggest something without explicitly saying it.

Example sentences: A consent form is not needed when a completed questionnaire is understood to imply consent.

When we see smoke we automatically infer fire.

Lie when it should be lay. Lie means to assume a horizontal or resting position, while lay means to place something down.

Example sentences: I like to lie down next to the fire and read a good book.

It’s a good idea to lay a mat on the bathroom floor to ensure that you don’t slip over when you get out of the shower.

Reek when it should be wreak. Reek refers to a strong, unpleasant smell, while wreak means to inflict.

Example sentences: Few players can wreak havoc like Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin.

One of my biggest pet hates is people on public transport who reek of sweat.

Adept when it should be adapt. Adept means to be very skilled at something, while adapt means to adjust oneself to new conditions.

Example sentences: Many children struggle to adapt to a new school.

I am very adept at shooting three-pointers.

Cease when it should be seize. Cease means to come to an end, while seize means to take hold of suddenly.

Example sentences: West Coast managed to seize control of the contest in the third quarter, booting six goals to Sydney’s two.

The soldiers were ordered to cease fire.

Commend when it should be command. Commend means to praise, while command means to order, be in control of or  deserve and receive.

Example sentences: Few AFL captains command as much respect as Jonathan Brown.

It’s always nice when someone goes out of their way to commend you for a job well done.

All ready when it should be already. All ready means all completed, while already means prior to the present time.

Example sentences: It really frustrates me when a good domain name is already taken.

I like to have dinner all ready by no later than 7pm.

All together when it should be altogether. All together means together in a group, while altogether means entirely.

Example sentences: I don’t altogether agree with her review of the Hunger Games book series.

I have a bad habit of placing my clothes all together in a pile.

Adverse when it should be averse. Adverse means  unfavourable, while averse means to have a strong feeling of opposition to something.

Example sentences: I am very much averse to rule changes in the AFL.

The adverse weather conditions made it very difficult for both sides to kick goals.

Allude when it should be elude. Allude means to make an indirect reference, while elude means to avoid or escape.

Example sentences: One of Gary Ablett’s biggest strengths is his ability to elude multiple tacklers.

I have been known on occasion to allude to The Simpsons when I am with friends.

Confidant when it should be confident. Confidant refers to someone you confide in, while confident means feeling or showing certainty about something.

Example sentences: Tim is confident that he will be right to play in Saturday night’s preliminary final.

I am feeling rather down because my confidant betrayed my trust.

Steel when it should be steal. Steel refers to a hard alloy of iron and carbon, and can also mean to prepare oneself mentally to do or face something challenging, while steal means to take something without permission. It can also be used when referring to something as being a bargain.

Example sentences: Few things disgust me more than people who steal money from the elderly.

I steel myself for a big game by listening to some rap music.

Everyday when it should be every day. Everyday means commonplace, while every day means each day.

Example sentences: Every child should have everyday chores.

In an ideal world I would play basketball every day.

Assent when it should be ascent. Assent refers to the expression of approval or agreement, while ascent means the act of rising or climbing.

Example sentences: The view from the top of the mountain makes the steep ascent worth the effort.

I am currently awaiting assent of a loan for a proposed business.

Anyone when it should be any one. Anyone means any person, while any one means any single thing or person out of a group of things or people.

Example sentences: I will be very irritated if any one of my Eminem CDs gets damaged.

I am always happy to help anyone. 

Subsequently when it should be consequently. Subsequently means next, while consequently means as a result.

Example sentences: Carlton has been ravaged by injuries this season and consequently they will struggle to make the finals.

A 22-year-old man was arrested for being drunk in public and subsequently taken to the watch house.

Avocation when it should be vocation. Avocation refers to something someone does in addition to their principal occupation, while vocation means a person’s principal occupation.

Example sentences: Journalism is a highly competitive vocation.

Michael is a lawyer by profession and a marathon runner by avocation.

Prognosis when it should be diagnosis. Prognosis refers to the likely course of a disease or ailment, while diagnosis means the identification of the nature of an illness.

Example sentences: An early diagnosis of breast cancer increases the chance of survival.

The prognosis isn’t good for pancreatic cancer sufferers.

Moral when it should be morale. The adjective moral means ethical, while the noun moral refers to the lesson taught by a story or event. Morale refers to the enthusiasm of a person or group at a particular time.

Example sentences: Southerners recorded a morale-boosting 15-point win over Lakes on Sunday afternoon.

The moral of the well-known tale “The Tortoise and the Hare” is that slow and steady wins the race.

Feint when it should be faint. Feint refers to a movement made in order to deceive an adversary. As a noun and a verb, faint refers to a loss of consciousness, while faint as an adjective means barely perceptible.

Example sentences: It was very difficult to understand what she was saying because her voice was so faint.

It takes a great deal of practice to be able to effectively feint a punch.

Envelope when it should be envelop. Envelope refers to a flat paper container with a sealable flap which is designed to contain a letter or document, while envelop means to surround completely.

Example sentences: I hate how terrible the adhesive flap on an envelope tastes.

A smoky haze used to envelop my neighbourhood.

Loath when it should be loathe. Loath means unwilling, while loathe means to feel intense dislike or disgust for something.

Example sentences: I absolutely loathe brussels sprouts.

I would be loath to add a links section to my website.

Personnel when it should be personal. Personnel refers to staff, while personal means affecting or belonging to a particular person.

Example sentences: Mary took a couple of weeks off work to deal with some personal problems.

Good leaders are effective at motivating their personnel.

Prospective when it should be perspective. Prospective means likely to happen in the future, while perspective refers to a view or outlook.

Example sentences: A brush with death gives you a new perspective on life.

I am looking forward to meeting with a prospective client on Monday.

Premier when it should be premiere. Premier means first in importance, while premiere refers to the first performance of a play, movie, television show, etc.

Example sentences: I remember the premiere of Friends like it was yesterday.

David Beckham made his English Premier League debut at the tender age of 17.

Veracious when it should be voracious. Veracious means honest, while voracious means extremely hungry.

Example sentences: Sam had a voracious appetite.

Mr Matthews gave a veracious account of his conduct during the electoral campaign.

Vain when it should be vein. Vain means excessively proud of or concerned about one’s appearance, qualities, achievements, etc., while vein refers to a blood vessel.

Example sentences: I don’t like to associate with vain people.

I hate when I go to get a blood test and it takes the doctor forever to find a vein.

Statue when it should be statute. Statue refers to a carved or molded figure of a person or animal, while statute means a rule or law.

Example sentences: A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated.

The Michael Jordan statue is one of Chicago’s favourite tourist attractions.

Heroin when it should be heroine. Heroin is a highly addictive drug, while heroine refers to the primary female character in a book, movie or play who is admired for her noble qualities.

Example sentences: Anna Karenina is arguably Tolstoy’s most famous heroine. 

It’s sad how big a problem heroin is in our society.

Incite when it should be insightIncite means to provoke or stir up, while insight refers to the ability to understand the true nature of things.

Example sentences: Marcus offered some valuable insight on how to tackle the problem.

Two men were jailed for two years for attempting to incite riots on Facebook.

Maybe when it should be may be. Maybe means perhaps, while may be indicates possibility.

Example sentences: He may be talented but if he doesn’t apply himself he will never reach his full potential.

Maybe I’ll go to the beach tomorrow.

Taut when it should be taught. Taut means pulled tight, while taught is the past participle of the verb teach.

Example sentences: I was taught to always treat others with respect.

A balanced diet and regular exercise left Samantha’s stomach looking trim, taut and terrific.

Tack when it should be tact. Tack refers to a small nail and a course of action, while tact refers to a keen sense of what to say or do when dealing with others or difficult issues.

Example sentences: A police officer must be able to show a great deal of tact. 

We weren’t making any inroads on the problem so we decided to take a different tack.

Amiable when it should be amicable. Amiable means having or showing a pleasant and good nature, while amicable means having a spirit of friendliness, and is used to describe relations between people.

Example sentences: The couple described the split as being amicable. 

Jerry was always able to make friends easily because he was so amiable.

Annul when it should be annual. Annul means to declare invalid, while annual means yearly.

Example sentences: The company released their annual investment income report on Wednesday.

The couple confirmed that they’re trying to annul their marriage.

A part when it should be apart. A part means one section of something, while apart means at a distance or separate.

Example sentences: I hate the fact that the last two seasons of Breaking Bad are going to be so far apart.

I am looking forward to being a part of next week’s marathon.

Apprise when it should be appraise. Apprise means to inform, while appraise means to assess the worth of something.

Example sentences: We had an expert appraise the house last weekend.

I felt it was my duty to apprise my friend of what was going on behind his back.

Coarse when it should be course. Coarse means rough or loose in texture, while course refers to a direction or route taken, or a series of lessons on a subject.

Example sentences: I think it would be fun to enrol in a photography course. 

We need to use coarse sandpaper in order to effectively remove the paint from the walls.

Corroborate when it should be collaborate. Corroborate means to confirm or give support to a statement, finding, etc., while collaborate means to work together.

Example sentences: I love it when Eminem and Royce Da 5’9 collaborate.

Video has emerged to corroborate Nick’s version of events.

Seam when it should be seem. Seam refers to the line formed by sewing two pieces of material together, while seem means to appear to be.

Example sentences: It does seem as if the weather will be terrible for the next few days.

Sally was feeling rather despondent because her favourite dress had ripped at the seam.

Sever when it should be severe. Sever means to divide by cutting or slicing, while severe means extreme.

Example sentences: You should seek professional help if you’re experiencing severe emotional trauma.

The junior chef wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing and managed to sever one of his fingers.

Shear when it should be sheer. Shear means to remove by cutting or clipping with a sharp instrument, while sheer means pure, unadulterated.

Example sentences: There are few more beautiful things in this world than the look of sheer joy on a child’s face.

I was once given the opportunity to shear a sheep.

Tenet when it should be tenant. Tenet means a principle or belief, while tenant refers to someone who rents a property.

Example sentences: Each individual creates their own wants and desires is a basic tenet of Buddhism.

The tenant was evicted because he failed to pay his rent on time

Isle when it should be aisle. Isle refers to a small island, while aisle means passageway.

Example sentences: There are few greater honours for a father than walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

Tasmania is often referred to as the Apple Isle because for many years it was one of the world’s largest apple producers.

Ambivalent when it should be ambiguous. Ambivalent means to have mixed feelings, while ambiguous means open to more than one meaning.

Example sentences: Sarah is ambivalent about applying for the graphic designer role.

Statistics tend to be very ambiguous.

Fortunate when it should be fortuitous. Fortuitous means happening by chance or accident, while fortunate means lucky.

Example sentences: Stephen’s fortuitous meeting with a media magnate changed his life forever.

We’re fortunate to live in a country as beautiful as Australia.

Defective when it should be deficient. Defective means faulty in some way, while deficient means lacking in something.

Example sentences: I had to return my laptop because it was defective.

A diet deficient in iron can lead to anaemia.

Discover when it should be invent. Discover means to become aware of something, while invent means to create something that did not previously exist.

Example sentences: I think it would be great to invent something that has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

I love it when I discover a new musical act that I like.

Eventually when it should be ultimately. Eventually means at some unspecified time in the future, while ultimately means in the end.

Example sentences: There were so many delicious items on the menu but I ultimately chose the pasta carbonara.

I will eventually own my own home.

Leave when it should be let. Leave means to go away from, while let means to allow.

Example sentences: Angela’s boss let her go home early because she was feeling unwell.

I never leave the house without my mobile phone.

Teem when it should be team. Teem means to be full or prolific, while team refers to a group of people who work or play together.

Example sentences: Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team.

Play was called off because it had started to teem down with rain.

Whet when it should be wet. Whet means to sharpen, excite or stimulate, while wet means consisting of or soaked with liquid.

Example sentences: You should be extra cautious when you’re driving on a wet road.

The trailers for season five of Breaking Bad have really whet my appetite.

Young when it should be youthful. Young means to be in the early stages of life, while youthful means to have the characteristics of a young person.

Example sentences: A country’s future depends on its young people.

There are so many products on the market for those wanting youthful skin.

Flaunt when it should be flout. Flaunt means to to show off, while flout means to openly disregard.

Example sentences: It’s amazing how many drivers flout road rules.

I think it’s refreshing when a celebrity doesn’t flaunt their success.

Wave when it should be waive. Wave refers to the act of moving one’s hand back and forth as a greeting, and can also refer to a long body of water that curls into an arched form and breaks on the shore, while waive means to forgo.

Example sentences: On March 15 of this year, Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard chose to waive his right to opt out of his contract at the end of the season.

I would love to learn how to catch a wave on a surfboard.

Herd when it should be heard. Herd refers to a large group of animals of the same species that live together or that are kept together as livestock, while heard is the past tense of hear.

Example sentences: I heard there might be massive job cuts at the factory.

The farmer lost a herd of cattle due to the drought.

Convince when it should be persuade. Convince means to make someone believe something is true, while persuade means to talk someone into doing something.

Example sentences: It is not possible to convince me that ghosts exist.

I tried to persuade my friends into going mountain climbing with me but was unsuccessful.

Rode when it should be road. Rode is the past tense of ride, while road refers to a long, narrow stretch with a smooth, paved or gravel surface that is designed for travelling.

Example sentences: Heavy rain makes for dangerous road conditions.

Amanda rode her bike to work yesterday instead of catching the bus.

Beside when it should be besides. Beside means next to, while besides means in addition to or apart from.

Examples sentences: I don’t have any family here besides my sister.

It really annoys me when people sit beside me when their are plenty of spare seats on a bus.

Respectfully when it should be respectively. Respectfully means in a respectful manner, while respectively means in the order mentioned.

Example sentences: Australian and Sri Lanka will face each other in the triangular one-day series after finishing first and second respectively.

I respectfully disagree with those who think Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan.

Creditable when it should be credible. Creditable means praiseworthy, while credible means believable.

Example sentences: I got the information for my essay from a credible source.

Damien Hardwick has done a creditable job of rebuilding the Richmond Football Club.

Some time when it should be sometime. Some time refers to a period of time, while sometime means at an unspecified time in the future.

Example sentences: It is important to take some time to appreciate the smaller things in life.

It would be good to get the gang together sometime for some drinks.

Wary when it should be weary. Wary means cautious, while weary means tired.

Example sentences: The two-hour session on the basketball court had left me feeling weary.

I was very wary about climbing the mountain as I am somewhat afraid of heights.

Altar when it should be alterAltar refers to a high table before which religious ceremonies are carried out, while alter means to change.

Example sentences: You can alter your life by simply changing your attitude.

Being left at the altar can be a very emotionally distressing experience

Tortuous when it should be torturous. Tortuous means full of twists and turns, while torturous means severely painful.

Example sentences: We had to drive along a tortuous road for 20kms before getting to our destination.

Watching a loved one slowly die is very much a torturous experience.

Dearth when it should be plethora. Dearth means a lack of something, while plethora means an excess of.

Example sentences: Queensland offers a plethora of holiday options.

The Fremantle Dockers have a dearth of quality key forwards.

Dilate when it should be dilute. Dilate means to make become wider or larger, while dilute means to make a liquid thinner or weaker by adding water or another solvent.

Example sentences: Our pupils dilate to let more light in and improve sight.

For health reasons, it’s a good idea to dilute cordial drinks more than usual.

Regretful when it should be regrettable. Regretful means to be full of regret, while regrettable means deserving of regret.

Example sentences: Michael apologised to the entire staff for his regrettable behaviour at the office Christmas party.

Donald was regretful for what he had said to his wife in a moment of anger.

Notorious when it should be famous. Notorious means to be well-known for some bad quality or deed, while famous means to be widely known.

Example sentences: Al Capone is one of the most notorious gangsters in the history of the United States of America.

A lot of people still wonder why Kim Kardashian is famous.

Reluctant when it should be reticent. Reluctant means unwilling, while reticent means not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily.

Example sentences: Audrey has a hard time developing relationships because she is so reticent.

I was reluctant at first to go mountain climbing as I am somewhat afraid of heights, but once I tried it I couldn’t get enough.

Currant when it should be current. Currant refers to a dried grape, while current means happening now, and can also refers to a flow of water, air or electricity.

Example sentences: I like to keep up to date with current events.

Blackcurrant juice is so refreshing.

Emotional when it should be emotive. Emotional means showing intense feeling, while emotive means arousing intense emotion.

Example sentences: The emotive lyrics of the Eminem song “You’re Never Over” always reduce me to tears.

Damien Oliver was very emotional after winning the 2002 Melbourne Cup on Media Puzzle as it was the day before his brother’s funeral.

Sympathy when it should be empathy. Empathy refers to the ability to understand’s someone else’s feelings, while sympathy refers to the expression of sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Example sentences: A lot of people give flowers to show their sympathy.

This world would be a much better place if more people were filled with empathy.

Storey when it should be story. Storey means a level of a building, while story refers to an account of real or imaginary people and events.

Example sentences: I think it would be great to write a children’s story and get it published.

When I was working as a cleaner, I was part of a team that was responsible for cleaning a nine-storey building.

Summery when it should be summary. Summery means typical of summer, while summary means a brief statement of the main points.

Example sentences: A good summary demonstrates that you clearly understand the topic you’re writing on.

I love it when a woman wears a summery dress.

Strait when it should be straight. Strait refers to a narrow passage of water, while straight means without a curve or bend.

Example sentences: Australia’s longest straight road stretches for 146.6kms.

I would love to go on a cruise to Icy Strait Point and get the true Alaska experience.


Which words give you the most trouble?

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2 Comments Read through the comments & then add your own

  1. CJH
    January 5, 2013
    @12:12 AM

    “Effect” is usually a noun, but can be a verb:
    “The new manager attempted to effect immediate changes in the workplace.” (effect: to bring about; to cause)

    Very rarely, “affect” can be a noun:
    “The doctor noticed an entirely new affect in his patient.”
    (affect: an observed feeling or emotion. It is used almost exclusively in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.)

  2. CJH
    January 5, 2013
    @12:22 AM


    I always understood “sympathy” to be “fellow feeling”; that is, one has experienced the same feelings as another. For example, I can offer sympathy at a funeral because I have also lost loved ones.
    Empathy (as you state) is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings, without necessarily having experienced those feelings. For example, I can empathise with soldiers who are traumatised by war, even though I have never been to war.
    Both these terms need to be held separately from “pity”, which is the feeling of sorrow for another.

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