To, Two, Too – Which One?

Welcome to my blog!

For the month of June, I planned to post 30 Days of Definition, well . . . if you’ve stopped by this past week,  you know I haven’t managed to do that.










Still dealing with the malaise from medications, but trying to get on top of it.

Today and for this week I thought I’d talk about frequently misused words. We all do it, be honest.

It’s  – its has been my latest issue.  I thought everything was good to go on my newest release and just a couple of days ago a friend pointed out that I had it’s on my back cover blurb instead of its.  EEEEEEEK! I got so excited about the design and finishing this book that I didn’t read my own blurb, just glanced over it.

That’s just one example which is only noticed in print. HOw many times though,  have we been in conversation with someone and they misuse a word, or habitually misuse the same word.  Do you correct their grammar or just cringe a little inside? NO? Just me?

Here are some that I’ve heard frequently misused.

• Adverse means detrimental and does not mean averse or disinclined.

Correct: “There were adverse effects.” / “I’m not averse to doing that.”

• Appraise means to ascertain the value of and does not mean to apprise or to inform.

Correct: “I appraised the jewels for the insurance coverage.” / “I apprised him of the situation.”

• As far as means the same as but cannot be used the same way as as for.

Correct: “As far as the money is concerned …” / As for the money …

• Bemused means bewildered and does not mean amused.

Correct: The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused. / The silly comedy amused me.

• Cliché is a noun and is not an adjective.

Correct: “Shakespeare used a lot of clichés.” / The plot was so clichéd.

• Credible means believable and does not mean credulous or gullible.

Correct: His sales pitch was not credible. / The con man took advantage of credulous people.

• Data is a plural count noun not, standardly speaking, a mass noun. [Note: “Data is rarely used as a plural today, just as candelabra and agenda long ago ceased to be plurals,” Pinker writes. “But I still like it.”]

Correct: “This datum supports the theory, but many of the other data refute it.”

• Depreciate means to decrease in value and does not mean to deprecate or to disparage.

Correct: My car has depreciated a lot over the years. / She deprecated his efforts.

• Dichotomy means two mutually exclusive alternatives and does not mean difference or discrepancy.

Correct: There is a dichotomy between even and odd numbers. / There is a discrepancy between what we see and what is really there.

• Enormity means extreme evil and does not mean enormousness. [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.]

Correct: The enormity of the terrorist bombing brought bystanders to tears. / The enormousness of the homework assignment required several hours of work.

• Fortuitous means coincidental or unplanned and does not mean fortunate.

Correct: Running into my old friend was fortuitous. / It was fortunate that I had a good amount of savings after losing my job.

• Homogeneous is pronounced as homo-genius and “homogenous” is not a word but a corruption of homogenized.

Correct: The population was not homogeneous; it was a melting pot.

• Hone means to sharpen and does not mean to home in on or to converge upon.

Correct: She honed her writing skills. / We’re homing in on a solution.

• Intern (verb) means to detain or to imprison and does not mean to inter or to bury.

Correct: The rebels were interned in the military jail. / The king was interred with his jewels.

• Ironic means uncannily incongruent and does not mean inconvenient or unfortunate.

Correct: “It was ironic that I forgot my textbook on human memory.” / It was unfortunate that I forgot my textbook the night before the quiz.

• Irregardless is not a word but a portmanteau of regardless and irrespective. [Note: Pinker acknowledges that certain schools of thought regard “irregardless” as simply non-standard, but he insists it should not even be granted that.]

Correct: Regardless of how you feel, it’s objectively the wrong decision. / Everyone gets a vote, irrespective of their position.

• Literally means in actual fact and does not mean figuratively.

Correct: I didn’t mean for you to literally run over here. / I’d rather die than listen to another one of his lectures — figuratively speaking, of course!

I can’t tell you how many times I find these in editing, which is easy to mark for correction but when they are used in conversation . . . Irregardless is a major pet peeve with me. It seems to be the standard thing from several people lately.  I don’t know if this is a local colloquialism or just general misinformation but the grammar nazi in me wants to correct them every time.

What words do you commonly misuse? Which ones set your hackles up when others misuse them?

Tomorrow is the big day – come back and check here tomorrow.

Until then, write on my friends, write on!


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