Thursday, February 3, 2011

16 Commonly Misused Words

Did you really mean that?

While for some it may be inconceivable to think they could possibly be using the incorrect word for what they actually mean, it happens to all of us. While not nearly as noticeable in verbal communication as it is in written, it is still there.

This subject came about after I received an e-mail earlier this week, which made me stop and go really? I had to send it back and ask what the person truly was intending to mean and this was a business email not personal.

While not an English major and knowing for a fact that I probably misuse words in both written and verbal communication, I tracked down and compiled a list of the most commonly misused words.

a.) Adverse vs. Averse

Adverse means unfavorable.

Averse means reluctant.

b.) Farther vs. Further

Farther is talking about a physical distance.

Further is talking about an extension of time or degree.

I didn’t know this one until I found it while looking for others that I was familiar with.

c.) Historic vs. Historical

Historic means and important event.

Historical means something that happened in the past.

d.) Imply vs. Infer

Imply means to suggest indirectly.

Infer means to draw a conclusion based upon information.

e.) Irregardless

Does anyone know of anyone that has actually used this word?

It is not a word, not in any language that I could find. It was suggested that someone who would be tempted to use this word, they should consider using regardless or irrespective.

f.) Insure vs. Ensure

Ok I know I misuse this one, a lot.

Insure is correct only when talking about insurance coverage.

Ensure means to guarantee.

g.) Premier vs. Premiere

This one is most commonly misused in written communication as opposed to verbal communication. They are both pronounced the same way.

Premier is the first and best in status and/or importance.

Premiere is opening night, of a new movie or new store or restaurant.

h.) Unique

Unique literally means one of a kind. Adding very or truly in front of it, is redundant.

i.) Who vs. Whom

I am happy to say that I finally learned how to use these two words while doing the research for this blog. Now if I can only remember it and change my habits.

Who is to be used when referring to subjects.

     An example of this would be “Who is going to do the yard work?”

Whom is to be used when referring to objects.

     An Example of this would be “Whom are you going to photograph?”

It was fun looking up the information and finding out about words that I had no idea how they were being misused. Feel free to break as many of these rules as you like! Because, really who determined what word was going to mean what anyway?

 In actuality words and definitions are ever evolving and changing.  Pop cultural and trends affect words their definitions and meanings a great deal.   Doubt that logic, check out the history of the phrase “get jiggy wit it”.

Can you think of any other words that are being misused?

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