Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CHEAT SHEET FOR WORD USAGE - thanks to John Potter


Affect is a verb that means "to influence": Counsel's explanation did not affect the hearing officer's decision. The noun effect means "a result": The effect of her decision was financially devastating. As a verb, effect means "to cause to come into being": The new chief thought he could effect a needed change in morale.

among/between: Among is used for three or more entities: Many local runners are among those training for this weekend's race. Between is used when two entities are involved: There is an intense rivalry between the two schools.

fewer/less: Fewer refers to people or objects that can be counted; less refers to general amounts: Fewer technicians means less work will be done today.

its/it's: Its is the possessive form: The board forwarded its recommendations. It's is a contraction of it is: It's time for a party.

lead/led: As a noun, lead is a kind of metal. As a verb, lead means "to conduct." A guide will lead a tour of the ruins. Led is the past tense of the verb "to lead": He led the firm for twenty years.

Lose is a verb whose past tense is lost: Did you lose your elevator card, again? Loose is generally an adjective for "not tight": I have a few loose screws.

maybe/may be: Maybe is an adverb: Maybe the negotiators will succeed this time. May and be are verbs: The rumor may be true.

Passed is the past tense of the verb to pass: Everyone passed the test. Past means "beyond a time or location": The band marched past the bleachers.

As a noun, principal means "chief person" or "main or original amount": The principal of Waldorf's Feline Academy prefers titled cats. We paid only the interest on the principal. The adjective principle means "a basic truth": The parties have reached an agreement in principle.

Who is used as a subject or subject complement: Who is the new guy in administration? Call Jennifer, who I know has the answer [who is the subject of the verb phrase "has the answer"]. Whom is used as an object: Bill, whom we all know, has just retired [whom is the object of the phrase "we all know"].


Christina Farley said...

This is fantastic! Thanks so much! I always get past and passed mix up. I know what it is, but still, I go and write the wrong one.

Will print this baby out.

Bish Denham said...

Great tips!
Another two words that continually trip me up are advice and advise.

Advice, a noun, is the recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct.

Advise, a verb, is the act of giving advice.

My professor advised me about the advice presented in his paper.

A trick I learned years ago to help with spelling and knowing when to use lose/loose chose/choose is:
I chose to lose my nose.
Remember to choose the loose goose.

Jean said...

Thanks, AGAIN, Kim.


Kimbra Kasch said...

Bish: Thanks for these ones and the tricks to help remember them. :)

Kelly Polark said...

These are great. One of my pet peeves is misuse or wrong spelling of words. (though I'm sure I do it, too :)
I get so frustrated when people write could of instead of could've... My inlaws both also always says acrossed instead of across until my hubby pointed it out. My father in law was laughing that he's said it all his life and wondered how many times he said it in important business meetings!

Captain Hook said...

Excellent post, Kim! They are words that many people (self included) get confused.

Clementine said...

I LOVE that sheet. I have it posted by my computer and I refer to it all of the time. Thanks Kim!

Anonymous said...

Good list--stationery/ary is another one often abused.

Brenda said...

Thanks for the 'cheat sheet'...I am so bad with its/it's...and then/than...for some reason I always stop and think about that one also...

Printing out and hanging next to computer...Thanks...

Rena Jones said...

Oh, how funny -- Nathan is doing this in language right now. Great list.

Kimbra Kasch said...

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader - ummmm...not always.


Kai Strand, Author said...

Kim, this is fantastic, thanks. I'm ALWAYS using the wrong word. Isn't that what crit groups/partners are for?!

Kimbra Kasch said...

Kai: I luv my crit partners - don't no wat me'd dew without 'em