It's worth bending over backwards to keep misused words out of your text.
I’ve spent the last week editing a book and five articles for clients, and was amazed how easy it can be to stumble over synonyms, and trip over typos.
“There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.” ~H. Murakami
But, you want your readers to understand and be awed by your prose, not upset by your misused words. Here’s a quick checklist for your next writing gig, offered by Ezine.com.
affect vs. effect
affect – is a verb that means to have an effect on; to touch the feelings of or to make a difference to.
If Penelope wrote, “I love Chocolate Mint ice cream and I think that eating it effects my behavior.” You might reply, “Uggh Sister!!, please do not write that way again. Obviously, eating Chocolate affects your writing.”
effect – is a noun that means to cause something to happen; a change, consequence, outcome or conclusion that is a result of an action or cause.
Incorrect: Chocolate had an incredible affect on Willy Wonka’s behavior. Correct: Chocolate had an incredible effect on Willy Wonka’s behavior.
allot vs. a lot
allot – To give or to apportion something to someone as a share or a task.
Incorrect: I will a lot a prize to each of the top-three finishers. Correct: I will allot a prize to each of the top-three finishers.
a lot – (never alot) A large amount, very many; also, very much. NOTE: the phrase “a lot” is vague and not very precisely descriptive, so its use should be avoided.
Incorrect: I like monkeys allot. There are alot of them at the San Diego Zoo. Correct: I like monkeys a lot. There are a lot of them at the San Diego Zoo.
then vs. than
then – At that time; at the time in question; after that, next, afterward.
Incorrect: I went to the San Diego Zoo and than to Balboa Park. Correct: I went to the San Diego Zoo and then to Balboa Park.
than – Used in expressions when introducing an exception or contrast.
Incorrect: Micheal is shorter then Christopher. Correct: Micheal is shorter than Christopher.
lie vs. lay
lie – To be in or assume a horizontal or resting position; the way, direction, or position in which something lies.
Incorrect: I am going to lay down for a nap. Correct: I am going to lie down for a nap.
lay – Requires an object, to put down (generally carefully or gently).
Incorrect: I am going to lie the baby down for a nap. Correct: I am going to lay the baby down for a nap.
desert vs. dessert
desert – as a verb, to abandon; as a noun, a dry, barren area of land; barren.
Incorrect: I felt desserted when my family went away for the holidays and I had to stay behind to work.
Correct: I felt deserted when my family went away for the holidays and I had to stay behind to work.
dessert – The sweet course at the end of the meal.
Incorrect: My grandmother always baked mouth-watering deserts.
Correct: My grandmother always baked mouth-watering desserts.
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HERE’S TO GREAT WRITING!
R. R. Harris