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Solutions to Common English Errors. Daily Tips and Rules of Usage. Numbers, Part One. Spell out numbers of one or two words Correct: Fifty cents Correct: Fifty-one Correct: Nine hundred Incorrect: She took 3 cookies and 2 sodas. Use numerals for numbers of more than two words 1984

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solutions to common english errors

Solutions to Common English Errors

Daily Tips and Rules of Usage

numbers part one
Numbers, Part One
  • Spell out numbers of one or two words
    • Correct: Fifty cents
    • Correct: Fifty-one
    • Correct: Nine hundred
    • Incorrect: She took 3 cookies and 2 sodas.
  • Use numerals for numbers of more than two words
    • 1984
    • $534.21
numbers part two
Numbers, Part Two
  • Hyphenate all two-word numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine. Hyphenate fractions (except one half) only if they serve as adjectives.
    • Incorrect: Sixty six
    • Correct: one-third cup
    • Correct: one half quart
    • Correct: seventy-four
numbers part three
Numbers, Part Three
  • Write out cardinal numbers like fourth, thirty-first, etc., rather than use numerals with letter endings (4th, 31st, etc.)
    • Incorrect: This is my 5th visit to Rome.
    • Correct: Samantha finished fifth in the race.
  • Street numbers may be written with letters or numbers
    • She lives at 825 N. 2nd Street
    • She lives at 825 N. Second Street
numbers part four
Numbers, Part Four
  • 1 = uni-
  • 2 = du-, bi-, di-
  • 3 = tri-
  • 4 = quadr-, quart-
  • 5 = quint-, penta-
  • 6 = ses-, sext-, hexa-
  • 7 = sept-
  • 8 = oct-
  • 9 = non-, nov-
  • 10 = deca-
then vs than
Then vs. Than
  • “Then” indicates an order of events or chronological sequence
  • “Than” is used to compare
    • Incorrect: Jim has more cake then Janice.
    • Correct: First in line is Alice, then Jake.
    • Correct: China and Japan hold more U.S. debt than any other foreign countries.
a vs an
A vs. An
  • Use a before words beginning with a consonant sound: a book, a unique ring.
  • Use an before words beginning with a vowel sound: an apple, an urchin.
    • Correct: a football, a yarmulke
    • Correct: an honest mistake, an opposite
accept vs except
Accept vs. Except
  • Accept means to receive: “Please accept my offer.”
  • The verb except means to leave out or omit: “Will you except the last provision of the contract?”
    • Correct: We will accept all of the players, except Jeremy.
adverse vs averse
Adverse vs. Averse
  • Adverse means opposing: adverse circumstances, adverse weather.
  • Averse means opposed to: “He was averse to my proposal.”
    • Reminder: Adverse usually relates to actions or things. Averse usually applies to people (who have an aversion).
advert vs avert
Advert vs. Avert
  • Advert means refer: “The speaker adverted to an earlier talk he had given.”
  • Avert means ward off: “He narrowly averted a bad fall.”
advice vs advise
Advice vs. Advise
  • Advice is a noun meaning recommendation concerning an action or decision: “Few people take my advice when I offer it to them.”
  • Advise is a verb: “I advise you to take advanced courses next year.”
affect vs effect
Affect vs. Effect
  • Affect means to influence: “His attitude in class affected his grade.”
    • However, “affect” is also used to refer to demeanor or attitude: “I did not understand his affect after committing such a crime; he looked positively nonchalant.”
  • Effect as a noun means result: “The effect of the explosion was disastrous.”
  • Effect as a verb means to accomplish: “The new machinery effected a great improvement in the production line.”
  • Do not use aggravate to mean irritate. Aggravate means to make a bad situation worse.
    • Correct: “I was irritated by his behavior when he entered the room; I became really aggravated with him after he slammed the door when he went out.”
agree to vs agree with
Agree to vs. Agree with
  • You agree to an idea or to a proposal
  • You agree with a person
    • Correct: I agree to your idea about going to McDonald’s.
    • Correct: I did not agree to that!
    • Incorrect: I agree to Joey.
almost vs most
Almost vs. Most
  • Almost means nearly: “He was almost as tall as the coach.” “Almost every girl in class had long hair.”
  • Most as an adjective or adverb means in the greatest degree: “A most difficult problem was presented.”
  • Most as a noun means the largest number or the greatest quantity: “The food will be given to those who need it most.”
  • “Most” must not precede an indefinite pronoun:
    • Incorrect: Most everybody wants that job.
    • Correct: Almost everybody wants that job.
all ready vs already
All ready vs. Already
  • All ready is used in sentences such as “They are all ready to go,” meaning all of them are ready.
  • Already is an adverb meaning previously: “We ran to catch the train, but it had already left.”
  • Illiterate/informal for all right, indicating satisfactory status:
    • Correct: “When I took my rounds at midnight, everything looked all right.”
    • Incorrect: “I know you hit me, but it’s alright.”
  • Do not confuse the spelling with words like almost, already, altogether.
altogether vs all together
Altogether vs. All together
  • Altogether is an adverb meaning completely: “You are altogether wrong in your assumption.”
  • All together is used in such sentences as “They were all together in the same room,” meaning all of them were together.
allusion vs illusion
Allusion vs. Illusion
  • Allusion means reference: “He made an allusion to Hercules’ strength in the article.”
  • Illusion is an unreality: “That a pair of railroad tracks seem to meet in the distance is an optical illusion.”
alternative vs choice
Alternative vs. Choice
  • Alternative means a choice in a situation where a choice must be made: “If you can’t take the test tomorrow, your only alternative is to receive a zero.”
alumnus alumna alumni alumnae
Alumnus, Alumna, Alumni, Alumnae
  • An alumnus is a male graduate. Alumni is the plural.
  • An alumna is a female graduate. Alumnae is the plural.
  • Alumni is also used to indicate male and female combined.
among vs between
Among vs. Between
  • Between is used in connection between two persons or things
  • Among is used for more than two
    • Correct: The choice is between blue or red.
    • Incorrect: You have to choose between pepperoni, sausage, or ground beef.

Tomorrow: Exceptions to the rule

among vs between exceptions
Among vs. BetweenExceptions
  • If more than two are involved in a united situation, between is used: “Between the four of us, we raised a thousand dollars.”
  • If a comparison or an opposition is involved, between is used: “There was a great rivalry between the three colleges. It was difficult to choose between them.”
amount vs number
Amount vs. Number
  • Amount refers to bulk or quantity: amount of sugar, grain, flour, or money
  • Number refers to objects which are thought of as individual units: number of oranges, children, diamonds
  • Notice that most words following amount are singular (coal, butter, water) and most words following number are plural (apples, bottles, glasses)
any one vs anyone
Any one vs. Anyone
  • Any one means any single person or thing of a group: “Any one of the students in the class was capable of passing the course.”
  • Anyone is an indefinite pronoun meaning anybody: “Anyone can tell that you are not so stupid as you pretend.”
appraise vs apprise
Appraise vs. Apprise
  • Appraise means to make an estimate: “Would you appraise the value of this ring?”
  • Apprise means inform: “He was apprised by registered mail that his lease would not be renewed.”
as as comparisons vs so as comparisons
As … as comparisons vs.So … as comparisons
  • As … as is used for affirmative comparisons: “He was as tall as his father.”
  • So … as is used for negative comparisons: “She was not so tall as her mother.”
as like as if
As, Like, As if
  • When introducing a clause, as is used (as I was saying) even if some of the words of the clause are implied: “He did it as well as I [did].”
  • In general, like should never introduce a clause: Incorrect: “Like I was saying.”
  • “They acted as if they were guilty.”
beside vs besides
Beside vs Besides
  • Beside means by the side of: “Ask him to sit beside me.”
  • Besides means in addition: “She was an expert secretary. Besides, she had a wonderful disposition.”
bring take fetch carry
Bring, Take, Fetch, Carry
  • Bring refers to action toward the writer or speaker: “Bring the book to me.”
  • Take refers to action away from the writer or speaker: “Take this bottle back to the store for the deposit.”
  • Fetch means to go and get something and bring it back: “If you throw the stick into the lake, the dog will fetch it.”
  • Carry means to convey from one place to another: “We need a suitcase to carry all our clothes.”
can vs may
Can vs May
  • Can implies ability: “Can you (are you able to) lift that heavy box?”
  • May denotes permission: “May I (Have I permission to) swim in your pool?”
  • Correct: “May I use the restroom during a break in the lesson?”
compare to vs compare with
Compare To vs Compare With
  • Compare to is used to indicate a definite resemblance: “He compared the railroad to a highway.”
  • Compare with is used to indicate an examination of similarities and dissimilarities: “He compared the middle ages with modern times.”
complement vs compliment
Complement vs Compliment
  • Complement as a verb means complete: “He needed a typewriter to complement his office equipment.”
  • As a noun, complement means whatever is required for completion: “I am sending you fifty books as a complement to your law library.”
  • Compliment is a noun meaning an expression of admiration: “He paid her the compliment of saying that she had exquisite taste in clothes.”
common vs mutual
Common vs Mutual
  • Common means shared by two or more people or things: “The classmates had a common admiration for their school.”
  • Mutual means reciprocal: “The classmates had a mutual admiration for each other.”
consul council counsel
Consul, Council, Counsel
  • A consul is a government agent who lives in a foreign country to protect the interests of the citizens of his own country.
  • Council is a group of individuals who act in an advisory capacity or meet to discuss and/or make decisions: “The mayor met with the city council.”
  • Counsel as a noun means advice, yet in legal language, it means a lawyer or lawyers: “He sought counsel when he received the court summons.”
councilor vs counselor
Councilor vs Counselor
  • A councilor is a member of a council, whereas a counselor is an advisor. Counselor is also used to mean leader, guardian, or supervisor or a group.
contemptuous vs contemptible
Contemptuous vs Contemptible
  • Contemptuous means showing contempt: “My teacher as contemptuous of my performance.”
  • Contemptible means deserving of contempt: “His rude behavior at the wedding was contemptible.”
continual vs continuous
Continual vs Continuous
  • Continual means constantly with interruptions: “She smoked continually.”
  • Continuous means without interruption: “The water flows continuously over Niagara Falls.”
credible creditable credulous
Credible, Creditable, Credulous
  • Credible means believable: “His story was entirely credible.”
  • Creditable means praiseworthy, meritorious, but NOT outstanding: “His performance was creditable, but I wouldn’t pay to hear him again.”
  • Credulous means ready to believe: “Being a credulous person, he believed everything he read.”
different from
Different from
  • Different from is the correct use, not different than
differ from vs differ with
Differ from vs. differ with
  • Differ from applies to differences between one person or thing and another or others: “My car differs from his because it is a newer model.”
  • differ with means to have a difference in opinion: “I differ with him in his views about government.”
dominate vs domineer
Dominate vs. domineer
  • Dominate means to rule over: “He dominated the audience with his speech.”
  • Domineer means to rule tyrannically: “One of his daughters domineered over the entire family.”
duel vs dual
Duel vs. dual
  • Dual means double: “Since he was born in England of American parents, he could claim dual citizenship.”
  • A duel is a combat between two men: “He challenged his enemy to a duel with pistols.”
elicit vs illicit
Elicit vs. illicit
  • Elicit means to draw or bring forth: “After hours of questioning, they elicited the truth from him.”
  • Illicit is an adjective meaning not permitted or illegal: “Trafficking in drugs is an illicit activity.”
migrant immigrant emigrant
Migrant, immigrant, emigrant
  • A migrant is a member of a mass movement of people from one region to another
  • A migrant who leaves a country or place of residence is called an emigrant, while one who comes in is an immigrant
fewer vs less
Fewer vs. less
  • Fewer is used in connection with people or objects thought of as individual units: fewer oranges, fewer children, fewer books, fewer dollars.
  • Less is used in connection with the concept of bulk: less money, less coal, less weight, less grain.
  • Note that most words following fewer are plural, and most following less are singular