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Old 03-21-2011, 10:44 AM
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Default Unexceptable! ...The Go-To Guide for Usage Confusion


Well...I was getting all ninja-ey on some grammar and decided we needed somewhere other than Google to go when we're agonizing between 'farther' and 'further' (look no further!)...so here's a list of errors I'm beginning to see more frequently. If you think of more, PM me and I'll edit them in. Go elsewhere for rules like "Use adverbs sparingly"; this one is for what is and what isn't, not what's debatable.


One word or two?

Nouns: Workout, setup, logout, mix-up, backup, layout, pickup, login, breakup, tryout, every day (each 24-hour period; every modifies day).
Verbs: Work out, set up, log out, mix up, back up, lay out, pick up, log in, break up, try out.
Adjectives: Everyday (normal, standard). [I saw this one plastered all over a cereal box... Eat a Good Breakfast Everyday! or something...gah.]

These are not interchangeable. Don't bother putting dashes between them if you're not sure, because dashes are only for nouns too ("That was a bad break-up" is just as good as "That was a bad breakup", but "Did you break-up with him yet?" may get you a grammar-ninja throwing knife to the knee).

Homonyms

Accept: Willingly receive. Except: But.
Affect: Verb--to influence. Effect: Noun--result.
Already: Previously; so soon. All ready: completely prepared.
Council: Committee. Counsel: Guidance.
Ensure: To guarantee. Insure: To take out a monetary policy protecting from loss/damage/theft/whatever.
Its: Belonging to it. It's: It is.
Passed: Past tense of verb 'to pass'. Past: Everything else.
Principle: Basic belief, truth. Principal: Head of a school; sum of money.
Than: Comparative conjunction. Then: After that.
There: Not here. Their: Belonging to them. They're: They are.
Too: Also. Two: Number between one and three. To: Everything else.
Whose: Possessive of 'who'. Who's: Who is.
Your: Belonging to you. You're: You are.

Non-homonyms

Breath: Noun--intake of air. Breathe: Verb--to take in air.
Farther: More distant; usually referring to physical distance. Further: More, additional; refers to metaphorical distance. [When unsure, go with 'further']
Lie: To recline (past tense lay). Lay: To put down (past tense laid).
Lose: Misplace. Loose: Not tight. (Rhymes with "moose". And we aaaall know how to say "moose.")
Perspective: Noun--Outlook. Prospective: Adjective--potential; expected.

Don't Pretend These Exist


A lot, alot
Accidentally, Accidently
All right, alright
Couldn't care less, could care less (Unless you do care at least a little bit.)
Regardless, irregardless
Supposed to, suppose to
Supposedly, supposably
Toward, towards
Try to, try and
Used to, use to
Would have/would've, would of

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Last edited by Dragon King; 04-16-2011 at 07:03 AM..
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