Printer Friendly

Appendix B: commonly misused words.

accept, except

* Accept is a verb that means "to receive," as in "The restaurant manager accepted the delivery of the fresh produce."

* When except is used as a verb, it means "to exclude." For example, "The manager excepted the lettuce from her receipt of the fresh produce delivery." As a preposition, except means "excluding," as in "The manager accepted all of the produce except the lettuce."

affect, effect

* Affect is most often used as a verb that means "to influence the outcome," as in "The poor spelling affected the grade on his essay." Less frequently, affect may be used as a noun to mean an emotional state, as in "The doctor noted that the patient's affect was good."

* Effect is most often used as a noun that means "consequence" or "result." For example, "The most likely effect of his improved study habits is a change in his grades." When used as a verb, effect means "to cause or achieve," as in "His improved study habits effected a change in his grades."

alumni, alumnae

* Alumni is a plural form that means "male graduates of a school" or "both male and female graduates of a school." For example, "The college's alumni give generously to the scholarship fund." Alumnus is the singular form and may refer to both male and female graduates.

* Alumnae is also a plural form, but it refers exclusively to female graduates. Alumna is the singular form and refers only to female graduates.

amount, number

* Use the word amount for the quantity of a noncount noun, a quantity considered a unit. "The caterer required a large amount of dough for dinner rolls."

* Use the word number for the quantity of a count noun, a quantity considered as several discrete items. "The caterer required a large number of dinner rolls."


* The use of the construction "the reason is because" is common but informal. "For example, we might say, "The reason he likes this restaurant is because it has good service.

* In more formal situations, "the reason is that" is preferred. "The reason he likes this restaurant is that it has good service."

* A more concise wording is the following: "He likes the restaurant because it has good service."

being as, being that

* The phrases "being as" and "being that" may be used in conversation, but they are too informal and wordy for academic writing. "Being that I was hungry, I fixed myself a sandwich."

* The preferred usage is "since" or "because": "Since I was hungry, I fixed myself a sandwich."

beside, besides

* Beside is a preposition that means "next to" to someone or something. For example, "The server laid the spoon beside the knife."

* Besides is an adverb that means "also" or "furthermore": "Besides setting the tables for lunch, the server wiped off the menus."

between, among

* Between is used in formal English when considering two items, even when they are part of a larger group. "How can I choose between coffee and espresso?" Note that-like all prepositions--between takes the objective case. It's always "between you and me," not "between you and I."

* Among is used with a group. "There was agreement among us that this was the funniest movie we'd ever seen."

brake, break

* Brake refers to the part of the car (think of the central a in both words) that stops the wheels. For example, "Dolores used the brake as she approached the intersection."

* Break refers to the action of splitting something into two or more pieces: "Dolores used to break the eggs into their own bowl before combining them with the rest of the ingredients."

capital, capitol

* Capital can be used as a noun to mean "assets" or "resources" or to mean the first city. "The Johnsons invested a good deal of capital in the new restaurant," or "Springfield is the capital of Illinois." As an adjective, capital often means "punishable by death," as in "Murder is a capital crime."

* Capitol refers to the building that houses the legislature. "The senators headed for Capitol Hill to vote on the energy bill."

choose, chose

* The difference between these two is time (and pronunciation): Choose and chooses are in the present tense; chose is the irregular past-tense form.

* Present tense: "The Dietrichs often choose an Italian restaurant for special occasions."

* Past tense: "On Halloween, however, they chose to eat at a Japanese restaurant."

* Infinitive: Choose is used with the infinitive form: "It was difficult to choose between the two desserts."

cite, sight, site

* Cite means "to quote or refer to": "The food critic often cited the works of M.F.K. Fisher."

* Sight means "vision" or "view": "The customers were fascinated by the sight of the roasted suckling pig."

* Site means "place" or "location": "The entrepreneur studied possible sites for the new restaurant."

cloths, clothes

* Cloth describes fabric in general or a useful item such a dishcloth or tablecloth. "Cooks often keep a clean cloth tucked into their aprons." (Keep that extra e tucked out of sight.)

* Clothes refers to items that people wear: "Fortunately they had brought dry clothes to change into after their visit to the water park."

complement, compliment

*As a verb, complement means to balance or match, particularly in the hospitality industry. "The wine was chosen to complement the main course." As a noun, complement means quota or amount. "The new restaurant did not yet have a full complement of wait staff."

* In contrast, the verb compliment means "to flatter or praise": "The baking instructor complimented the student on her marzipan." As a noun, compliment means "flattery" or "praise": "My compliments to the chef!"

* Complementary means "matching" or "balanced": "The couple's personalities were complementary."

* Complimentary means either "approving" or "free": "The hotel guests were complimentary about the complimentary Continental breakfast."

conscience, conscious

* A conscience is what tells us when we're doing wrong: "My conscience is clear," we say, or "My conscience is bothering me."

* We're conscious when we're awake and aware: "The patient opened his eyes; he was conscious" or "I was conscious of a smoky smell coming from the kitchen."

could, can

* This pair of helping verbs adds the idea of ability or permission to the main verb: "Todd can paint well." Could is the past tense of can: "Todd could paint well as a child."

* Could also adds an element of doubt or uncertainty to the main verb and can be used in the subjunctive mood: "If Todd were to try singing, though, I'm not sure he could do it."

* Do not use could to mean simply "was able to." The simple past tense is clear and appropriate.
   After I could arrive at our apartment, I felt relief to see her
   face. [incorrect]

   After I arrived at our apartment, I felt relief to see her face.

could have, could of

Do not use of in expressions such as could of, would of, or should of; the correct usage is could have, would have, or should have. "The customers could have paid by cash or credit card."

course, coarse

* The definitions of these two words are clear; however, a misspelling can create a problem for the reader. Coarse is an adjective meaning "rough" or "untreated": "The sea salt had a coarse texture."

* Course, on the other hand, refers to a path, direction, academic class, or part of a meal: "The main course at the wedding reception was served under the tent."

desert, dessert

A desert is full of sand--it's dry and uncomfortable. A dessert is full of sugar--it's rich and fabulous! The difference between them is the extra s. Think of it this way--Dessert. So sweet.
   Travelers in the dry and sandy desert often long for a cool and
   refreshing dessert.

Desert can also be used as a verb mean "to abandon": "The boys deserted their playmates when they were called in for dessert."

diner, dinner

The clue here is in the pronunciation of the two words. With a single n, diner, the i is long, and the word refers to a person who is eating or to a type of restaurant. With a double n, dinner, the i is short and refers to a meal.

* Diner with a long i refers to a person who is eating ("The diners at the new restaurant were enthusiastic about their meal") or to a type of restaurant ("We ate at many different diners on our cross-country trip").

* Dinner with a short i refers to the meal. "The dinners at the new restaurant were enjoyed by all the customers."

few, little

* Few is used with count nouns, that is, with individual items. "There were few diners in the restaurants after 10 p.m."

* Little is used with noncount nouns, that is, with amounts rather than countable items. "There was little light in the restaurant after it closed."

fewer, less

* Fewer is used with count nouns (see also few/little): "There were fewer diners in the restaurant on Monday than on Thursday."

* Less is used with noncount nouns (see also few/little): "There was less trouble with the seating chart when Maria was working."

has got, have got

Rather than writing has got or have got, write simply has or have: "That ugly sofa has to go" or "They have too much time on their hands."

have, of

Do not use of in expressions such as could of, would of, or should of; the correct usage is could have, would have, or should have. "The customers could have paid by cash or credit card."

in, into

* In formal English, in refers to a static location: "The lion stalked regally back and forth in its cage."

* Into refers to movement from one location to another: "The children skipped merrily into the zoo to visit the lions."

its, it's

These two words sound the same--that is, they are homonyms--but they are spelled differently and have completely different meanings. Try to understand the difference and use the two words correctly.

* Its--like the possessive forms of other pronouns (hers, ours, yours) and unlike the possessive forms of nouns--does not use an apostrophe. For example, "She noticed that the risotto had begun to burn in its pan."

* It's uses the apostrophe to indicate that this word is a contraction; in other words, some letters are missing. It's is a shorter or contracted way to write it is. For example, "It's easy to burn risotto if you are not careful."

lead, led

* Lead is the correct spelling of the metallic element pronounced "led," as well as of the present tense of the verb "to lead": "The negative effects of kryptonite on Superman could be blocked by lead."

* Led is the correct spelling for the past tense of the verb "to lead": "Superman led the way into the dark tunnel."

leave, let

* Leave means "to go away" or "to abandon": "Leave your collection of shot glasses behind when you spend a month in the mountains." The expression "Leave me alone" means "go away."

* Let means "to allow": "Let the customers finish their main course before you offer them the dessert menu." The expression "Let me alone" means "stop bothering me."

like, as

* While like is a preposition and must be followed by a noun, as is typically a subordinating conjunction. "Keri uses her knife like a professional" or "Keri uses her knife as a professional does."

* In formal English, do not use like for as if or as though. "He looks like he would be interesting to talk to" is informal. The better choice would be "He looks as though he would be interesting to talk to."

loose, lose

* Loose is most often an adjective that means "relaxed, free, or baggy": "The loose-fitting pants allowed the chefs to move freely about the kitchen."

* Lose is a verb that means to misplace, elude, or be defeated: "The vegetables will lose a good deal of their nutritional value if they are boiled too long."

Do not use the reflexive pronoun myself in place of I or me. Write "my friends and I," not "my friends and myself." See Chapter 26: Pronouns and Point of View.

of, off

Watch your spelling here.

* Of indicates possession: "The top of the table was scarred by knife cuts."

* Off indicates location: "The knife fell off the table." Note that in formal English we do not use of with off:
   The knife fell off of the table. [informal]
   The knife fell off the table. [formal]

palate, palette, pallet

* Palate refers to the roof of the mouth and can also mean "taste" or "appreciation": "This sommelier has an excellent palate."

* Palette refers to the range of colors used by a painter, or to the board on which these colors are mixed: "The artist added a fresh tube of red paint to her palette."

* Pallet means the large, stackable wooden tray used in storage: "We unloaded a few pallets of lettuce this morning."

passed, past

* Passed is the past tense of the verb "to pass": "Despite the double yellow line, Brendan passed the slowly moving car in front of him."

* Past is a preposition meaning "beyond": "Brendan drove past the car in front of him."

* Past is a noun referring to an earlier period of time or an adjective that means "historical" or "earlier."
   In the past, refreshments had been served at these tournaments.
   Refreshments had always been served at past tournaments.

* Peace is the opposite of war; note that they both contain the letter a: "Make peace, not war."

* Piece is the spelling for a serving of pie; note that pie is a part of piece: "I'd like a piece of that cherry pie, please."

personal, personnel

* Personal means "individual" or "private": "The chief executive officer made a personal decision to retire early."

* Personnel refers to employees: "Personnel decisions are handled by the human resources department."

principal, principle

* The noun principal means "head" or "leader," or perhaps a sum of money. "The principal of the high school declared a snow day." You might remember the spelling by thinking of the high school principal as your pal.

* The noun principle means "rule" or "belief": "The class studied the principles of English grammar." Note that both principle and rule end in -le.

shall, will

In most cases, shall and will are interchangeable. However, shall may be used in a more formal or elevated context or to make a suggestion. "Shall we go to the zoo tomorrow?" Occasionally, will suggests special determination: "I will go to the zoo tomorrow."

should have, should of

Do not use of in expressions such as could of, would of, or should of; the correct usage is could have, would have, or should have. "The customers should have paid by cash or credit card."

stationary, stationery

* Stationary means "motionless" or "in one place"; note the repeated a, like the letter a

in place. "The crane was stationary over the weekend."

* Stationery means "writing paper"; think of the -er in paper. "Matilda is fond of lavender-colored stationery."

than, then

* Than is a conjunction used with comparisons; note the a's in than and compare. "This chili is much hotter than that one."

* Then is an adverb having to do with time; note the e's in then and time. "I'll taste the chili; then I'll have a glass of milk."

there, their, they're

These three words are often confused with one

another. Try to remember the difference with

associations such as the following:

* There has to do with place, even with pointing. It contains the word "here," which also relates to place. "The knife is there on the table."

* Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they; it refers to a person, not a place. Furthermore, it contains the word "heir," which also refers to a person. "The knife is on their table."

* They're is completely different because it's spelled with an apostrophe. It's a contraction, like it's, meaning that some letters are missing. They're is shorthand for they are. For example, "Chef Trotter owns many knives; they're on the table."

threw, through, thru

* Threw is the past tense of the verb "to throw": "Carlotta threw the ball to third base and got the runner out."

* Through is the preposition that means "from one end to the other" or "because of": "Carlotta walked through the dining room, collecting the bottles of ketchup left on the tables."

* Thru is an abbreviated spelling of through and should be avoided in formal writing.

* To is a preposition: "Carol went to the store."

* Too means "also"; think of too many o's. "Casey went to the store, too."

* Two is the number. "Two other friends went to the store with Casey."

vain, vane, vein

* Vain means "conceited" or "useless": "The Olympic gold medalist was sometimes accused of being vain" or "The student tried in vain to fix his broken hollandaise sauce."

* Vane refers to the object on the top of the barn, often a rooster or an arrow, that indicates the direction of the wind: "The weather vane was rusty but effective."

* Vein is the tube that carries blood back into the heart: "The students removed the veins from the prawns." Or we could talk about a vein of precious metal or minerals running through a rock.

weather, whether

* Weather is the rain, sleet, or snow reported on the news: "The bad weather discouraged many people from attending the outdoor concert."

* Whether is a subordinating conjunction that means "if": "The producers don't know whether their concert will be successful."

where, were, we're

* Where is a relative pronoun that may sometimes be used like a subordinating conjunction.
   Where are you going? [pronoun] David told his mother where he was
   going. [conjunction]

* Were is the past tense of the verb "to be": "David and Diana were going to the concert."

* We're is the contraction for "we are": "We're going to the concert."

* Who refers to people only, which to animals and things only, and that to either people or things.
   These are the students who have scored above 90 on the quiz.
   These are the quizzes, which happen to be printed on yellow paper.
   These are the quizzes that the students took yesterday.

* Who may begin a restrictive or nonrestrictive clause (see also Chapter 31):
   These are the students who have scored above 90 on the quiz.

   These students, who scored above 90 on the quiz, are already
   studying for their final exam. [nonrestrictive]

* Which may begin only a nonrestrictive clause:
   These are the quizzes, which happen to be printed on yellow paper.

* That may only begin a restrictive clause. Do not use a comma in this case (see Chapter 31).
   These are the quizzes, that the students took yesterday.
   [incorrect use of comma with restrictive clause]

   These are the quizzes that the students took yesterday. [correct]

who, whom

* Use who whenever the subjective case is required: "I know who you are."

* Use whom when the objective case is required: "I know whom you are with." [Whom is the object of the preposition with.]

whose, who's

* Whose is the possessive form, as in the sentence "The hostess is speaking with the server whose customers have finished their appetizers."

* Who's is a contraction of who and is. For example, "The hostess is speaking with the server who's getting ready to go home."

woman, women

One letter here changes both the meaning and the pronunciation of the word that refers to 51% of the population! Just like the words man and men, the word with a is singular, and the word with e is plural. "The woman [one woman] at the front of the line bought tickets for the three women behind her."

would have, would of

Do not use of in expressions such as could of, would of, or should of the correct usage is could have, would have, or should have. "The customers would have paid by cash or credit card."

your, you're

* Your is the possessive form; it means "belonging to you." For example, "Your pastries are delicious."

* You're is a contraction; it means "you are." For example, "You're fortunate to live near this pastry shop."
COPYRIGHT 2015 Delmar Learning
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:APPENDICES
Author:Cadbury, Vivian C.
Publication:A Taste for Writing, Composition for Culinarians
Article Type:List
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Appendix A: spelling of selected culinary terms.
Next Article:Appendix C: types of writing.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |