Thursday, September 29, 2011

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases - Part VII



Rarely, ever. Ever is superfluous. 

" He rarely rides in a plane."


Real. Do not use real for very. Real is an adjective; very is an adverb.

Incorrect: It is a real pretty picture.

Correct: It is a very pretty picture.


Remember of. Of is superfluous. 

"I remember (NOT remember of) talking with him."


Respectfully, respectably, respectively. Respectfully refers to that which is done in a manner full of respect for someone else; respectably refers to that which is done in a manner worthy of anyone's respect; while respectively refers to a series of objects taken in regular order.

Correct: It is desired that everyone receive a salary sufficient to enable him to live respectably.

Correct: I shall call on five members of the sales team respectively.

Correct: After the president read his annual report to the stockholders, he bowed respectfully and sat down.


Right nice, right smart. Dialect for very, unusually, and extremely

It was very kind (NOT right nice) of you.


Runs. Colloquial for direct, manage, operate, and similar words. 

"He manages (NOT runs) the paper.


Salesperson. A good word to use when referring to both sexes.


Same. Incorrectly used as a pronoun, except in legal documents.

Incorrect: I have read your letter and in answer to same (OR to the same) . . .

Correct: In answer to your letter of May 14 . . . . 


Says. A vulgarism when used in place of the past tense of the verb to say

I said (NOT says) to him, "Go home!"


Seldom ever. A colloquialism for seldom or rarely

We seldom (OR rarely) see him now.


Shan't. A colloquial contraction for shall not.

Correct: They shall not (NOT shan't) enter the building without their identification cards.


Show. (1) A colloquialism for theater, opera, concert, and the like.

Correct: We are going to the theater (NOT show).

(2) A colloquialism for chance or opportunity.

Correct: The judges wouldn't give the boy an opportunity (NOT show) to win the prize.


Sight, sight of. A needless and crude expression for much, many, a great many, a great deal.

Correct: The storm left a great many (NOT a sight of) fallen trees in its path.


So. (1) Incorrect when used vaguely and indiscriminately as an intensive in place of very or extremely.

Poor: The letter was so effective.

Better: The letter was very effective.

(2) Colloquial when used as a conjunction meaning with the result that or in order that.

Colloquial: They clung to the rail with both hands so they wouldn't fall.

Better: They clung to the rail with both hands so that they wouldn't fall.


Some. (1) Dialectal when used as an adverb.

Dialectal: He works some during the summer.

Better: He does some selling during the summer.

(2) Incorrect when used to intensify an adjective.

Incorrect: That's some suit you are wearing.

Correct: That's a very attractive (OR stylish) suit you are wearing.


Specie. Means metal coins (gold or silver). Do not confuse with species, meaning kind or variety, and having the same form in both the singular and plural.


Such. (1) Such must be followed by a result clause introduced by that and not by so that.

"It was such a storm that (NOT so that) I decided to remain indoors.

(2) When a relative clause follows, it must be introduced by as, rather than by that, who, or which.

Incorrect: I will conduct such programs that may be assigned to me.

Correct:  I will conduct such programs as may be assigned to me.

(3) Do not use such alone without a result clause.

Incorrect: It was such a lovely day.

Correct: It was a very lovely day.


Superior, inferior. These words should be followed by to and not than.

"The new car was superior in every respect to (NOT than) the model sold previously.


Sure. Slang for the adverb surely.

"Will you join us?" "Surely (OR certainly)."


Suspicion. Always a noun; never used as a verb.

"I suspect (NOT suspicion) that he was the culprit.

"I have a suspicion that he was the culprit.


Take and. Phraseology of this kind is superfluous.

Incorrect: Take and tie it up.

Correct: Tie it.


Tend, mind. Colloquialism for look after, take care of, or attend.


That. Incorrectly used as an adverb in place of so.

"I was so (NOT that) tired i could scarcely breathe."


That there, this here, those there, these here. Vulgarism for that, this, those and these.


Try and. The expression is often misused for try to.

Incorrect: We shall try and get the goods to you by the fifth.

Correct: We shall try to get the goods to you by the fifth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases - Part VI



Of. Do not use in place of have in such combination as could have, would have, should have, may have, and the like.

Avoid the redundant usage of the word of in such phrases as beside of, off of, taste of, feel of, and similar expressions.


Off. Never use of or with off.

Correct:  Take those boxes off the shelves.

Correct:  The letter must have been brushed off the desk.

Do not use off with buy.

Correct:  We bought it from Rustan's.


O.K. A colloquialism meaning to accept or to approve. It should not be used in formal writing, although it has been accepted in informal or colloquial expressions.

Correct:  The Manager approved (NOT O.K.'d) my proposal.


Onto. Say preferably on, upon, or to.

Correct:  He climbed upon the table.


Ought to of. Incorrect. Instead, say ought to have.


Over with. With is unnecessary. Simply say, "The game is over (concluded).


Pair, set. Singular in number; not to be used for the plural form pairs

Correct:  The girls found five pairs (NOT pair) of scissors and six sets (NOT set) of books during the treasure hunt.


Pants. A colloquialism for trousers.


Party, person. Party denotes one person who is a participant in a legal contract. Except in legal phrases, it denotes a group of persons. Individual denotes a specific object or human being. Person denotes any human being or corporation.

Correct:  He is the person (NOT party) who placed the order.

Correct:  The parties to the contract were present.

Incorrect: The party who called was a man.

Correct:  The person who called was a man.


Phenomena. A plural form. See Data.


Phone. A colloquialism for telephone.


Plenty. Do not uses as an adjective or adverb. It is correct only as a noun.

Incorrect: The magician had plenty tricks.

Correct:   The magician had plenty of tricks.

Incorrect: He was plenty tired after working all night.

Correct:  He was very tired after working all night.


Practicable, practical. Practicable means capable of being put into practise. Practical means valuable in actual practise (all the time). Use practical with persons or things. Use practicable with things only; never use practicable with man.

Correct:  Your plan for a sales campaign may be practicable (useful), but it is not practicable (capable of being put into practise) at this time.


Prefer. Should not be followed by than. Use rather than, to, or above after prefer.

Incorrect: I should prefer going to Manila than to Mandaluyong.

Correct:  I should prefer going to Manila rather than going to Mandaluyong.

Correct:  I prefer studying electronics to studying accounting.


Preventative. Preventive is considered preferable by many authorities. "Proper training and good environment are preventives (NOT preventatives) against crime."


Principal, principle. Principal is an adjective meaning chief or of first importance. It is used as a noun in the sense of a school principal, a principal in transaction, or a sum of money; a principle is a fundamental truth or law.

Correct:  The principal source of our raw material is Mindanao.

Correct:  Mr. Torres is the principal of the school.

Correct:  The bank pays very little interest on one's principal.

Correct:  A man of principle is one who acts with the fundamental laws of duty and morality.


Proposition. Do not use indiscriminately for plan, recommendation, idea, and the like. Proposition means a thing proposed of; it should not be used as a verb.


Proven. Use only as an adjective; the verb is proved.

Correct:  He has proved (NOT proven) the problem.


Provided, providing. Provided is a conjunction meaning if or on condition that; while providing is a transitive verb form which must be followed by an object.


Quite. This word means wholly, completely, or entirely. It may be used colloquially to mean very, rather, or somewhat.

Correct:  Your attitude in the matter is quite (entirely) correct.

Colloquial: Our terms are quite (very) liberal.

Colloquial: The order was quite (rather) large.


Quite a. This expression is used only colloquially to express the idea of considerable.

Colloquial: Quite a number of employees are out on disability.

More formal: A considerable (OR large) number of employees are out on disability.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases - Part V




Kind, sort. Kind and sort are singular. 

Singular: This (or that) kind (or sort) of car is a Toyota.

Plural: These (or those) kinds (or sorts) of flowers are roses.


Kind of, sort of. Colloquialisms when used in place of such adverbs as somewhat, somehowrather, and the like.

Correct: I am somewhat (NOT kind of) tired this morning.

It is better to eliminate the article a or an after kind of or sort of.

Correct: He is the kind of (NOT kind of a) boy you want.


Lady, gentleman. These are words that refer to men and women of honor and good breeding. The words may be used as terms of politeness. They ought not to be used merely to identify men and women indiscriminately.

Incorrect: Some young lady has left her purse on the counter.

Correct: Some young woman has left her purse on the counter.

Incorrect: The gentleman who sent in this order forgot to sign his name.

Correct: The man who sent in this order forgot to sign his name.


Leave, let. Leave means to abandon; let means to allow.

Correct: Let him try it. Let the sale go through.

Correct:  Leave the window display as it is. Let the window display stand as it is.


Liable, likely. Liable suggests a disadvantageous probability. Likely, expresses a desirable probability. 

Correct: A vague statement is liable to be misunderstood.

Correct:  A well-planned sales campaign is likely to bring results.


Lie, lay; set, sit. The verb lie means "to recline"; it is an intransitive verb and does not require an object. The principal parts of the verb are lie, lay, lain. The verb lay means "to place"; it is a transitive verb and requires an object to complete its meaning. The principal parts are lay, laid, lain.

Wrong: I (OR he, she) was laying down.

Right: I (OR he, she) was lying down.

Wrong: He had laid down.

Right: He had lain down.

The verb set means "to place"; it is a transitive verb and requires an object to complete its meaning. The principal parts of the verb set are set, set, set. The verb sit means "to take a seat"; it is an intransitive verb that does not take an object. The principal parts are sit, sat, sat. 

Right: The machine that you set in the corner continues to sit there.


Loan, lend. Loan is a noun.  It is used colloquially as a verb. It is desirable in one's letter, however, to use lend as a verb. 

Colloquial: Loan me your pencil.

Preferable: Lend me your pencil.

Correct: The merchant obtained a loan at his bank.


Lot, lots, a whole lot. Colloquialisms. It is better to use such words as much, many, and a great deal.

May. See can.

Mean. (1) A colloquialism when used in the sense of ill-tempered, contemptible, or cruel.

Colloquial: The shipper was mean to hit the driver.

Correct: It was contemptible of the shipper to hit the driver.

(2) Slang when used to mean poor in health, low in spirits.

Slang: He was feeling mean that morning.

Correct: He felt bad, or He was dejected.


Met up with. A needless, inexcusable phraseology for met or became acquainted with

Correct: He met (OR became acquainted with) many interesting people.


Most. Not to be used for the adverb almost.

Correct: Almost (NOT most) all the men have left.


Motor. Correctly used as a noun or verb. As a verb it means to ride in, to drive, or to travel with an automobile.

Correct: The motor was noisy.

Correct: We motored to Laguna.


Much, Many. Much denotes quantity; many number.


Myself. Should not be used where I or me is meant. 

Correct: The sales manager and I discussed the matter.

Correct: He turned the matter to Bobby and me.

Correct:  I reserved a ticket for my wife and myself. You will hurt yourself. Myself (himself, herself, itself, yourself, themselves, and so forth) may be used as intensive words.

Correct: I myself do not approve of his plan.


Nice. Avoid this general term for a more specific word such as pleasant, sunny, delicious, comfortable, and the like.


Nowheres, anywheres, somewheres. No such words. See Any place.


Nowheres near. An inexcusable vulgarism for not nearly.

Correct: I am not nearly (NOT nowheres near) finished.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases - Part IV




Feature. Feature means a prominent or distinctive quality or attribute. The word should not be used to refer to commonplace qualities.

Incorrect: Turret-top bodies, non-shatterable glass, and improved hydraulic brakes are features of our new car. (The so-called features are present in many makes of cars.)

Correct: Turret-top bodies, non-shatterable glass, and improved hydraulic brakes in our latest models deserve your consideration.


Fewer, Less. Fewer  refers to number: less, to amount or degree.

Correct: You shipped fewer lamps than we ordered.

Correct: Less capital is necessary for this project.


Formally, formerly. Formally means in a formal manner.

Correct: The governor was escorted formally throughout the plant.

Formerly means previously.

Correct: Formerly his residence was Binondo, Manila.


Gents. A vulgarism for gentlemen.


Got. Got is always preferred to gotten. Do not, however, use got with have or has to indicate mere possession.

Incorrect: Have you got the address in question? What has the address got to do with it?

Correct: Have you the address in question?  What has the address to do with it?

Got means secured; has got means has secured.

Correct: He got the order from Noel.

Correct:  Miss Aguilar has got the letter from the filing room.

Better: Miss Aguilar has received (OR has obtained) the letter from the filing room.

Wrong: I have got to go now.

Better: I must go now. Or: I ought to go now.

Permissible: Have you got what you called for?


Hardly, scarcely. Generally avoided with a negative.

Correct: The orders were coming in so fast we could (NOT couldn't) hardly fill them.

Correct: I could (NOT couldn't) scarcely tell where the bounderies were placed.


Healthy, healthful. Healthy refers to people, animals, or plants that are physically sound. Occasionally we speak of a business or the stock market as being in a healthy (sound) financial condition. Healthful refers to condition that will promote a healthy state.

Correct: The employees look healthy.

Correct: Milk is a healthy beverage.


Heighth. There is no such word. Use height.

Correct: The height (NOT heighth) of the building is three hundred feet.


Home. Do not use home when you mean house. It is better not to say, "He was not home when I called." Instead say, "He was not at home when I called."


Human, humans. Say human being.

Correct: Raw vegetables are beneficial to human beings.


Immigrant. See emigrant.


Immigrate. See emigrate.


In back of. Colloquial for behind.


Infer, imply. Infer means to deduce from, gather from, or conclude from the statement or remarks of another; as, "I infer from your statement that my bill still remains unpaid." Imply denotes something suggested, hinted, assured, or vaguely expressed, as "The teacher implied that the boy would not pass the course." Do not say, "I imply from your. . . " Instead say, "I infer from your . . ."


In regards to. Use in regard to, or regarding.


Inside of. Superfluous for inside.

Correct: He stood inside (NOT inside of) the doorway.


In, into. Use in to express location (the place where). Use into after words expressing motion. 

Correct: The office boy ran into the building.

Correct: He stayed in the house all evening.


Irregardless. Not a word. Say regardless or irrespective.

Correct: I shall go regardless of the weather.


Is when, is where. Both of these terms are colloquial. You cannot define a word by saying it is a when or a where. The copula is (OR was) should be followed by a predicate noun.

Incorrect: The most important day in the life of a boy is when he realizes he has made a success of his job.

Correct: The most important day in the life of a boy is the day he realizes he has made a success of his job.


It's, its. Do not confuse these two words. It's is the contraction for it is. Its is the possessive of it.
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