Use and Abuse of Common Words in English |
In order to avoid these common errors, it is important that you proofread your written work. Self proofreading is fine, apart from the fact that if you confused these words in the first place, you probably won't get them right when you proofread. So if you are submitting any work for publication, employ a proofreader. Not only will your work be proofread properly, any mistakes such as using their when you meant there will also be picked up. Proofreading can be done by anyone competent in the use of English i.e. a native speaker, so you could ask a professional proof reader, a trusted friend or family member for example.
English is a versatile and colourful language but sometimes common words can be misused.
OK, so is it such a big deal since English is a living language and meanings change? Well yes, actually, using the wrong words makes communication less precise.
Take for example the word 'buxom'. Modern usage applies it to women and it has evolved to mean 'busty' or more rarely 'vigorously plump' ie a woman with a 'fuller figure' who is nevertheless very active. But that is not what it originally meant. The now obsolete definition meant obedient and John Milton, the famous poet, used it in the sense of 'offering little resistance' (wing silently the buxom air).
Now, here are some others where the meaning in common usage is not strictly true.
Disinterested versus uninterested.
Whilst watching the news or reading newspapers, a large number of journalists seem to use the word disinterested rather than uninterested. If someone is disinterested, it doesn't mean they are bored or not interested in what is going on, it means they do not have a vested interest in something, they are impartial. Uninterested is the one to go for when someone doesn't want to listen to someone else's point of view.
Lend versus borrow
This is a common one amongst the younger generation, they seem unable to grasp the concept that if you lend something, it is the act of giving something to someone else with the intention that it is returned at some point. Borrow is the act of receiving something with the intention of returning it in the future.
Their versus there versus they're
Frequently seen confused in forums and blogs, their is the possessive, as in their chair or their book. There is positional and they're is the shortened version of they are. A good illustration of all three in action is 'they're in their car over there'.
Stationary versus stationery
Often confused, stationary with an 'a' means not moving but stationery with an 'e' describes writing materials.
Your versus you're
Another one that catches so many people out. It's not that difficult really; 'your' is the possessive, your book as opposed to my book and so on. The apostrophe in you're indicates a missing letter, in this the letter 'a', so it is actually the contracted version of 'you are'.
If you are an aspiring writer, errors like these could easily make the difference between acceptance and rejection. To achieve success, proofreading is the key.
Want your creative writing to be noticed? Visit Words Worth Reading for proofreading.
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