Okay, okay, I know some people don’t like grammar police. But I don’t care! I am one of them. I love words and language and I believe it is at its most beautiful when it is used correctly. Using the correct grammar and words can also make you appear smarter and polished. Here are a few staples that are commonly misused.
1. Hopefully Vs. I Hope
Hopefully officially means ‘in a hopeful’ manner, so if you say “hopefully we get tickets for the concert”, it technically does not mean the same as “I hope we get tickets for the concert”!
2. Assessable Vs. Accessible
A building might have a ramp and wheelchair accessible, whereas the same building might be assessable by the county that taxes it, the words mean two different things!
3. Bad Vs. Badly
You might see badly if you have poor vision, but if you have been mean to someone, you don’t feel badly, you just feel plain bad!
4. Equally Vs. Equally as
In most cases the ‘as’ is redundant: for example, a perfectly correct sentence would be “I speak English and Spanish equally well” rather than “equally as well”. “As” comes into play when you’re comparing such as, “I speak English and Spanish equally well as my native French”.
5. Lay Vs. Lie
Lay and lie are definitely not interchangeable. You can say “I need to lie down”, but when an object enters the equation then you need to change it to “I need lay my head on a pillow”.
6. Longue Vs. Lounge
Lots of people tend to get this wrong when spelling out the French term for the fancy chair; you might lounge on it, but its spelled chaise longue!
7. ATM Vs. ATM Machine
Adding the ‘machine’ on the end of ATM is redundant, as the M in ATM stands for machine anyway! You are basically saying automated teller machine machine, and that makes no sense!
8. Historic Vs. Historical
Something is historic if it becomes significant (like an election), whereas something can be termed as historical you are describing a link between famous history, like the world wars for example.
9. That Vs. Who
This one is easy: a human is always how, and inanimate objects are always that!
10. Could of Vs. Could Have
The thing to remember here is that ‘could of’ is NEVER the correct option. It only became a way of writing because of the way some people quickly pronounce ‘could have’!
11. Everyone Vs. Most Everyone
The most is completely redundant. If you really do mean everyone then that single word is enough, if you don’t, then ‘most people’ is a more fitting description.
12. Nauseated Vs. Nauseous
In strict terms, you are nauseated if you are feeling sick, but you are a nauseous person if you happen to inflict hate on others.
13. Unique Vs. Very Unique
The word unique by its very nature connotes something extraordinary, so in this case the ‘very’ is completely redundant.
14. Intents and Purposes Vs. Intensive Purposes
This is another case of people just mishearing the phrase. The correct thing to say is for all “intents and purposes”.
15. Literally Laughed My Head off Vs. Laughed My Head off
The overuse and misuse of the word literally is rife in modern society. If you literally laughed your head off, you’d be dead wouldn’t you!?
16. Merge Together Vs. Merge
The word merge in itself describes the process of two things coming together, so to add another ‘together’ on the end of the phrase is totally pointless.
17. Orient Vs. Orientate
People tend to use these words interchangeably, but the truth is that orientate officially only means ‘to face east’, so in most cases it’s the wrong thing to say!
18. Off of Vs. off
Saying “off of’ might feel nice in the mouth but it’s another redundant term. Just saying off without the second follow up is the correct way to go about it.
19. Famous Vs. Infamous
There is a difference in tone and seriousness with these two. For example, Madonna is famous, but a serial killer like Jack the Ripper is infamous! There is a certain notoriety attached to the word infamous.
20. Evoke Vs. Invoke
If you evoke something, you are creating a reminder of it, but if you invoke something, you are calling on a higher spirit or higher power for influence.
21. Renounce Vs. Denounce
If you renounce something you are giving it up, but if you denounce something you are publically and formally condemning it.
22. Disinterested Vs. Uninterested
Uninterested has crept in to public speech around the English speaking world, but that doesn’t stop disinterested from the being the correct way to say that you aren’t interested in something! The same applies to unorganized – the correct word is disorganized.
23. Former Vs. Latter
People sometimes get in a muddle about which means which. Former relates to something before, and latter always relates to something, well, after or later!