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7 Silly Misuse Words That Make You Look Dumb!

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English is an extremely fun language, especially if you compare how we speak to how we write. Obviously, I don’t want to give you an English grammar class here. It’s enough to know that written English is more formal than the spoken version of it and, on top of that…

It’s a Bit
More Complicated !

That’s why, it’s not enough to speak it to be able to write well. You also have to have some understanding about the grammar. The one thing I’d like to focus on today is what’s called…

Homonyms !

Now, in case you don’t know, homonyms are words that sound exactly the same (or very similar), although they’re spelled differently and often mean completely different things. Now, as you probably already realize, using homonyms are where a whole lot of people, even professional writers and bloggers fall short. That’s why I decided to give you a short, useful list words and phrases that are often…

Misuse !

1. Your vs You’re

A whole lot of people get this one wrong, especially if they’re just writing quickly. It doesn’t even matter where they’re from. Obviously, “your” means belonging to you and “you’re” means you are. For example, you could say this is your car, while this is you’re car…

Doesn’t Make
Any Sense !

Both of those phrases sound exactly the same, so there isn’t a problem when you’re just talking to someone, but if you’re writing a post

You Must Distinguish
Between Them !

2. Climatic vs Climactic

This is a tricky one. Those two words don’t sound exactly the same, but they are very similar and get mixed up a lot. “Climatic” is derived from the word climate, and “climactic,” as you can probably guess, comes from the word climax (meaning, the point of greatest intensity.) So, you could say, for example, that Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader, right after he found out they were related, was the Climactic event of that part of Star Wars. Using the word climactic in that sentence…

Wouldn’t Make
Any Sense At All !

3. There vs Their vs They’re

Another very common slip-up. The word “there” indicates location, “their” is a possessive pronoun and “they’re,” obviously, means they are. Every single one of these phrases means something completely different and they really shouldn’t get mixed up (although they do quite a bit.) Let me give you some example of how you’d use each one of them in real life.

  • There you’ll find a bucket of water (tells you where the bucket is)
  • This is their book (indicates who the book belongs to)
  • They’re going to school on Monday (talks about two or more people)

As you see it’s not too hard to distinguish between these three. You just have to pay attention to them…

When You’re Writing
Each of the Words !

4. Who vs Which vs That

These are not homonyms, but I decided to throw them in to the mix as they do cause a lot of people trouble. Again, it’s not very hard to use them correctly, especially if you pay close attention to what you’re doing during the writing and…

Editing of
Your Content !

When you talk about people, you’re not going to use “which.” The word “which” mostly refers to things and animals. That, on the other hand can be used for groups of people and things. So, for example, you could say John, who was singing the song, did an awesome job. You would not ever say John, which was singing the song, did an awesome job, though, as you’re talking about John, and…

He’s a Person !

You could use which, however, if you shifted the focus from John, to the song itself. For example, that song, which was sung by John, sounded very well.

Easy Enough,
isn’t it ?

5. Principle vs Principal

If you stop and think about it for a moment, you’re going to easily spot the difference between these two. Both of those words are nouns that sound exactly the same, but mean completely different things. The word “principle” means a truth or a rule. On the other hand, a “principal” is…

A Person
in Charge of a School !

I don’t think you need an example for this as it really is quite obvious, but if you do, go ahead and drop me a line…

In the
Comments Section !

6. Accept vs Except

This is another common error that’s relatively easy to spot and fix. “Accept” means to receive. For example, I accepted the gift from my children. “Except,” as you already realize, is normally a preposition that means excluding. For example: I don’t normally go out to eat, except when I am on holiday. If you’re having a hard time remembering the difference between those words, think about the word…

“Exception !”

An “exception” is a person or a thing generally excluded from a statement or one that doesn’t follow a rule. You wouldn’t say “acception” for that…

Would You ?

7. Emigrate vs Immigrate

“Emigrate” means to exit, or to leave the country. On the other hand, “immigrate” means coming in to the country. There’s a very easy way mnemonic to remember the difference between these two. Just keep in mind that…

Emigrate Means Exit and
Immigrate Means In !

There you have it. The 7 silly misuse words that will make you look dumb if you aren’t careful. They might be a bit overwhelming, especially at first, but there’s a little trick that I’ve been using for years that helped me avoid these mistakes. Writing and editing are two separate processes. It is literally impossible for an average person to catch spelling, grammar or syntax errors in the text they just wrote. That’s why, when you’re done writing your post, you can either have someone else edit it for you, or…

You Can
Take a Day of Break
from it !

If you wrote something today, save it and forget about it until tomorrow. Then, when tomorrow comes, sit down and go through your text carefully. You’ll see that most of the errors will be easy to spot and fix and you’ll be able to take care of them…

In No Time !

Stay Dumb-Free,

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee March 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Hi Wong
I am pretty ok usually with most of these the two I always have to stop for a second and think about are accept and except, and there I agree though it is easy to sound dumb by simply not taking the extra time to make sure you get these right.

Great advice lee
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Steve May 20, 2012 at 10:43 am

I have had problems with a lot of these, always thinking twice as I write to make sure that I am using the correct word and still using the wrong one when I publish the post.
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Zeeshan May 17, 2012 at 3:51 am

Wong i always mix number 3 point “There vs Their” in my articles but thank you that you clear my mind. Surly next time i try to use them on proper location.
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Amit Shaw
Twitter:
May 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Yeah Zeeshan me too buddy. Thanks for remind me it again :)
Hope i will not repeat same mistake from next time.
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Maya May 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm

You can see a lot of these mistakes all over the net. Although many people misuse these words, as a writer who exposes his/her writings to the world, you should be very careful in committing these mistakes.

In addition to the list given, i would like to add the common misuse of “its” and “it’s”.

:)

Reply

Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Well, to be honest I do make this common mistakes, thanks for the great info :)
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Becca May 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I think even an expert in writing misused these words. Especially not native english like me but good thing i learn from the post like yours. thanks for the tips here.

Reply

Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm

No problem and hope you had fun reading my other post :)
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Mohsin Ali May 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Wong i am very impressed by your articles specially your English language. My english is not that impressive as your as it is not my native language.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Well… I’m not native English too, you just had to read more and you will learn more :)
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San Bernardino Lawyer May 4, 2012 at 4:51 am

I am such a grammar freak so I love this post, haha. I can’t stand bad grammar, spelling, etc. Drives me nuts!

Reply

Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Well… hopefully my grammar is up to your level :)
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Lennart Heleander May 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Hi Wong,
Thanks for the lesson in English, I’m Swedish, but live in Spain and write in English. I have big problems with English grammar. On top of it all, I mix up the languages Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Spanish and English sometimes, sono one understands what I’m talking. I hope you have patience with my spelling in my comments.

Reply

Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Well, as you already know when I do not understand you meaning, I always ask for you to explain, so no worries :)
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Prakash
Twitter:
May 3, 2012 at 1:51 am

Yes it is quite different to use english as in speaking and in written form. We must be careful while writing.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Well, that is why we had to learn the correct way to write so readers could understand what we are saying :)
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tinafreysd May 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Once the children have learned to read, the concept surely will come up. There are some simple and fun ways to introduce words with multiple meanings..
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Kyle Kam May 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

I often see or hear the “your vs you’re” problem, just even when communicating normally. I know that no one’s perfect, but I suggest to those who are not sure what to use, if your or you’re, learn to differentiate both of it. I’m not hating, just bothered.

Reply

Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Well, I had this problem sometime even now and hopefully I could really decrease the mistakes I made :( looks dumb sometime…
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Jean May 2, 2012 at 12:51 am

One example that I can think of, which although is not a homonym, but close enough, is ‘Definitely vs. Defiantly’. I’ve seen this get mixed up so often it’s not even funny. I think it’s some sort of an auto-correct glitch on some devices, but I see it quite often. Example, ‘Those people defiantly had a problem!’

-Jean
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Well… though I had yet to see that happen but thanks for the great share because both words does look the same but the meaning is totally different, I should check mind too… may be I too miss spell that…
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ASP Web Host May 2, 2012 at 12:34 am

You couldn’t be more correct. I am not a grammar nazi but I do look up words if I have any question about if I am using them correctly. The most common one I make is your.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Same here too… and I honestly is dumb sometime… hey still can’t get you image up?
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ASP web host June 14, 2012 at 1:53 am

I know I have been meaning to get one up but forget to do it. and again thanks for the great post. I have problems with many of them and it’s nice to have an article to refer to.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
June 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

You make me no choice… if next comment of yours still doesn’t had an image of you… then I’m not going to approve your comment…
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Gautam May 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

nice research Wong about Misuse Words and difference between them. in all language this type of exceptions are their.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Are their what? Did you miss something, don’t quite understand what you last sentence is about, mind explaining?
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Aasma May 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Useful learning and interesting coaching!!!

I think many people do mistake while using “who, which and that”. You’ve easily clarified many doubts about using similar words. Great work!!!
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thanks and hope it will be share around and get more people to learn the correct use of words :)
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TracyAnn0312 May 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Very true! Even I sometimes misused some of the words I was typing due to my busy Schedule. This seems very helpful to everyone so that they will not use it to their blog. Thanks for sharing another knowledgeable idea in your blog.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

“Busy Schedule” is not a very good reason, as you must understand, if you are writing to sell… words should be written the correct way and it’s even more important if you are writing to teach :)
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Jason Mathes
Twitter:
May 1, 2012 at 3:56 am

My personal pet peave is ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. Hate it when people misuse those!

Another great article Wong!
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

LOL… I once see a Chinese show about a guy whos English is poor and because of that when he propose his business with another person he should had said effective but he said “affective” and he lost his business proposal…
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Micah
Twitter:
May 1, 2012 at 12:22 am

“Stay dumb free” lol

I see a lot of these all the time. Mostly your/you’re and there/they’re/their.

It always irritates me for some reason.
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Wong Chendong aka The Bad Blogger
Twitter:
May 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Yes, it does irritates, that is why is good to really learn the right way of using those words :)
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