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UWF WRITING LAB RULES OF THUMB FOR DICTION. from Grammar Shots by Mamie Webb Hixon. an an a an a a a a an an an an a a an a an a a a a an an a an a. a n b o c p d q e r f s g t h u I v j w k x l y

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Uwf writing lab rules of thumb for diction


from Grammar Shots by Mamie Webb Hixon

PowerPoint Created by April Turner

Revised by Mamie Webb Hixon

June 1, 2010

May i have a an please

an an

a an

a a

a a

an an

an an

a a

an a

an a

a a

a an

an a

an a

a n

b o

c p

d q

e r

f s

g t

h u

I v

j w

k x

l y

m z

“May I have (a, an) , please.”


  • A—used before words and letters with an initial consonant sound

  • Ex: a CEO, a historical event

  • AN—used before words and letters with an initial vowel sound

  • Ex: an MBA, an honorable man, an expert

  • ALOT—incorrect spelling for A LOT

Read this statement aloud

  • a UPS guy

  • an UPS guy

Both are correct

  • a UPS guy

    • a U-P-S guy

      • Use “a” before an initial consonant sound.

  • an UPS guy

    • An “ups” guy

      • Use “an” before an initial vowel sound.

  • ACCEPT—verb: to take

  • Ex: I graciously accept your invitation.

  • EXCEPT—verb: to omit; preposition: but

  • Ex: Mothers of small children are excepted from jury duty.

  • Ex: Everyone was excused except Joe.

  • ADVICE—noun

  • Ex: Most good advice falls on deaf ears.

  • Thank you for your helpful advice.

  • ADVISE—verb

  • Ex: The protestors were advised to submit a list of their grievances.

  • On the advice of legal counsel, I am dropping the charges.

  • AFFECT—verb: to influence or to alter

  • Ex: The noise affects my concentration.

  • EFFECT—noun: result; verb: to bring about

  • Ex: His speech had a positive effect on me.

  • Ex: The President has effected a new tax law.

  • ALRIGHT—incorrect spelling for ALL RIGHT

  • ALMOST—adverb

    • Ex: We sold almost all the tickets.

  • MOST—adjective or pronoun

    • Ex: We sold most of the tickets.

  • AMONG—used for relationships involving MORE THAN TWO people or things

    • Ex: There is a silent closeness among the family members.

  • BETWEEN—used for relationships involving ONLY TWO people or things

    • Ex: Lois and Hattie had only fifty cents between them.

    • EXCEPTION: Air Force One landed somewhere between Atmore, Brewton, and Pensacola.

    • EXCEPTION: Use transitions between paragraphs in a multi-paragraph essay.

  • AMOUNT—used with singular (mass) nouns

    • Ex: amount of work, amount of credit

  • NUMBER—used with plural (countable) nouns

    • Ex: a number of classes, a number of mistakes

  • AS, AS IF, AS THOUGH—used before clauses

    • Ex: It looks as if (not like) it’s going to rain.

    • Ex: He acts as though (not like) he has Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.

  • LIKE—preposition used to introduce a phrase, not a clause

    • Ex: His features are unique like a fingerprint.

    • Ex: It looks like rain.

  • BESUREAND—misused for BE SURE TO

  • TRYAND—misused for TRY TO

  • COULDOF—misused for COULD HAVE

  • SHOULDOF—misused for SHOULD HAVE

  • MIGHTOF—misused for MIGHT HAVE

  • WOULDOF—misused for WOULD HAVE

  • DIFFERENTTHAN—used only when a clause follows

    • Ex: The old plantation is different than it used to be.

  • DIFFERENTFROM—used always except when a clause follows

    • Ex: Her hairdo is different from yours.

  • DUETO—used to introduce ADJECTIVE phrases; means “caused by”

    • Ex: His mistakes were due to carelessness.

  • BECAUSEOF—used to introduce ADVERB phrases; means “as a result of”

    • Ex: He was dismissed because of his dishonesty.

  • DUE TO THE FACTTHAT—misused and wordy for BECAUSE


  • FEWER—used with countable nouns

    • Ex: fewer cigarettes, fewer people

  • LESS—used with mass nouns or general amounts

    • Ex: less time, less money

  • LESS THAN—used before a plural noun that denotes a measure of time, amount, or distance: less than three weeks, less than sixty years old, less than $400 dollars

  • HOPEFULLY—used as an adverb meaning “in a HOPEFUL MANNER,” not as a sentence modifier

    • Ex: The children waited hopefully for the packages to arrive.

    • WRONG: Hopefully, the team will win.


  • ISWHEN/ISWHERE—should NOT be used to introduce an explanation or a definition

    • Ex: Plagiarism occurs when (not is when) a writer presents the thoughts and ideas of another author as his own.

  • KINDOF/SORTOF—correctly used preceding NOUNS, NOT ADJECTIVES

    • Ex: I enjoy reading this kind of magazine.

    • WRONG: The movie was kind of boring.

    • CORRECT: The movie was rather boring.

  • LEAD ANDLED—Lead (pronounced “leed”) means “to go first.” Its principal parts are lead, leads, led (rhymes with red), and (have) led.

    • Ex: Priests lead lives of celibacy.

    • Ex: The man led a life of celibacy before he became a priest.

    • The homonym for led is a noun.

    • Ex: The lead in this pencil is broken.

  • LEND—verb: to allow the use of (lending, lent, [have] lent)

    • Ex: The credit union lends (not loans) money to members only.

    • Ex: I lent (not loaned) my book to her last week.

  • LOAN—noun: something lent for temporary use

    • Ex: I need to establish credit so that I can be eligible for a loan.

  • LIE—verb: to rest (LYING, LAY, [have] LAIN

    • Ex: I lie on the couch every day.

    • Ex: I lay on the couch for hours yesterday.

    • Ex: The sweater is still lying on the couch.

  • LAY—verb: to put (LAYING, LAID, [have] LAID)

    • Ex: Where did he lay my brush?

    • Ex: I must have laid it down somewhere yesterday.

    • Ex: I’m always laying things down and forgetting where I laid them.

The expelled the 1 student for three 2 reasons
The ________ expelled the (1)student for three ________ (2)reasons.

1 – principal, principle

2 – principal, principal

3 – principle, principle

4 – principle, principal

2 – principal, principal

  • PRINCIPAL—noun: chief official; adjective: foremost, major

  • PRINCIPLE—noun: axiom, rule

    • Ex: Her principal reasons for resigning were her principles of right and wrong.

    • Her principal source of income is her technical editing job.


    • Ex: The reason he was promoted is that (not because) he worked exceptionally hard.

    • The reason he was fired is that (not because) he is incompetent.

  • RISE—verb: to go up (RISING, ROSE, [have] RISEN)

    • Ex: She must rise early in the morning to get to work on time.

  • RAISE—verb: to push up (RAISING, RAISED, [have] RAISED)

    • Ex: The landlord must raise the rent to cover an increase in taxes.

  • SIT—verb: to be seated (SITTING, SAT, [have] SAT)

    • Ex: Good students usually sit on the front row.

  • SET—verb: to put, to place (SETTING, SET, [have] SET)

    • Ex: Please set the paperwork on my desk.

    • Ex: Try to set a positive example for young people to follow.

  • SUPPOSE TO/USETO—incorrect spellings for SUPPOSED TO and USED TO

  • THAN—conjunction

    • Ex: Amy is a better tennis player than I.

  • THEN—adverb of time (often misused for THAN)

    • Ex: The cashier rang up our sale; then he gave us our change.

Let s practice

  • I took the adviseof my counselor and dropped the class.


  • A employee with a MBA earns more than an internist.

  • AN employee, AN MBA

  • Alot of students come to college with no clear notion of what they want to do.

  • A LOT

  • Medical schools except fewer than half the students who apply.


  • At noon, we runners were already to start. When I reached the halfway mark, my body did not feel alright.


  • Most all the Republicans stood all together to give their support to the proposed amendment.

  • ALMOST all

  • Among the two girls, Madison ran faster.


  • The amount of people in the hall was extraordinary.


  • My students act like they have acute mental disorders.

  • AS IF

  • Whenever you’re depressed, you should try and lose yourself in science fiction.

  • TRY TO

  • I should of backed out of the agreement.


  • Why is your copy of the book different than mine?


  • Due to the Presidents’ Day celebration, the library will be closed.


  • Due to the fact that her car wouldn’t start, Charlotte was late for class.


  • This drink contains lesscalories than the sparkling water.


  • She was enthusedabout entering the contest.


  • Hopefully, his pains will subside.


  • Irregardless of the objections, all students in Comp I classes are required to do Lab work.


  • An honorarium is when a professional receives a fee for services rendered.

  • An honorariumIS a fee paid to a professional for…

  • When I got off the roller coaster, I felt sort of sick.


  • Joanne leadher sister into a sad world of crime.

  • LED

  • The bank will not loan me the money until I establish credit.

  • LEND

  • He laid on the floor, wondering why stupid people should be allowed to vote.

  • LAY

  • You are my principle problem.


  • The reason she left the office is because she forgot something in her car.


  • The curtain was about to raiseon the last act of the senior play.

  • RISE

  • Do set down and tell me all about your summer vacation.

  • SIT

  • Dick is suppose to be interviewed by the governor for a position at the state level.


  • The trail went farther into the bush then the hunter expected.

  • THAN