CWM: #4 — Common misused words

We type a word. It’s spelled correctly. Microsoft Word isn’t flagging it either. It sounds right too! But I love that Disney fairy tail doesn’t quite look right.

It can get more complicated than that.

There are long lists of words we think we know, but we don’t. Or we have a brain fart. We write them down only to realize they were wrong later. It’s something everyone struggles with. But how do we fix them?

One way I found is to have a list and go over them one by one while you’re editing. Take a day to search for every usage of those commonly misused words. Also, the more you work with them, the more you’re able to tell the difference.

Besides studying misused words or having a list of them, I’m not sure how else to find them.

They are so sneaky that even hearing yourself say them out loud might not help. Most of them sound right!

What are some of those commonly misused words? Here’s a list of some:

  • Affect vs. Effect
  • Allusion vs. Illusion
  • Complement vs. Compliment
  • Et cetera vs. Ex cetera
  • Farther vs. Further
  • For all intents and purposes vs. For all intensive purposes
  • Lie vs. Lay
  • Peal vs. Peel
  • Principal vs. Principle
  • Supposedly vs. Supposably
  • You and Me vs. You and I

For me, I find the ones I struggle with first. Like I know principal vs. principle well, but sometimes I still mess up affect vs. effect. So, I focus on the latter to improve my grammar.

I hope this helps!

Want more?

#1 — Using multiple adjectives
#2 — Vagueness for tension
#3 — Repeating words for emphasis
#5 — Misusing hyphens

#6 — Unnecessary details
#7 — Not developing characters
#8 — The words feel and felt
#9 — Overusing character names
#10 — Adding too many details with commas

#11 — Different types of dashes
#12 — Not using plain language
#13 — Dialogue tags vs. action beats
#14 — Misusing commas
#15 — No sentence variation

#16 — Misplaced modifiers
#17 — Characters with similar names
#18 — When to start new paragraphs
This was originally posted on my writing blog.

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