Apostrophes Indicate missing letters or numbers (ex. can’t, class of ‘08) Form possessive of nouns, but NOT pronouns (ex. Andre’s, brother’s, children’s)
Weather / Whether WEATHER: noun (ex. The weather is beautiful today.) WHETHER: conjunction expressing doubt (ex. I wonder whether it will work.)
Words to Spell Correctly QUIET (not “quite”): low noise level (ex. Be quiet.) DEFINITELY: surely (ex. I’m definitely going to get an A in Ms. Wright’s class.) BEGINNING: first, inception (ex. The beginning of school is always a difficult adjustment.) NECESSARY: needed (ex. I forgot to bring the necessary supplies to class.)
Practice Complete the “Costly Errors Practice” sheet alone and silently.
Practice This year (hasn’t/hasnt) been so great thus far. (It’s/its) always (to/too/two) cold in the (classrooms/classroom’s), and the food in the cafeteria (isn’t/isnt) appealing at all. My teachers told me (to/too/two) visit them after school with questions, but when I visit (there/their/they’re) classrooms, (there/their/they’re) not (there/their/they’re). (I’m/Im) hopeful that things will improve.
At least my (weekends/weekend’s) are enjoyable. I no longer (have/half) to (wear/where) a uniform. I can go (wear/where) I want and do what I want. My friends and I often hang out outside, (whether/weather) permitting. On Saturday, my three friends and I (threw/through) a frisbee in the park and then played a rousing game of (to/too/two)-on-(to/too/two). (We’re/Were) always trying to think of (new/knew) things to do so that (we’re/were) not (board/bored).
(I’m/Im) the type of person (whose/who’s) always trying to stay busy. I (don’t/dont) like to just sit around. I often call up my friends to see (whose/who’s) up for hanging out. If (it’s/its) raining, we normally chill at (someone’s/someones) house, though we (have/half) to figure out (whose/who’s) house to go to. It depends on (whether/weather) or not (are/our) parents and little siblings (are/our) home. If (there/their/they’re) (there/their/they’re), then (we’ll/well) sometimes pick another place to go. (There/Their/They’re) is a favorite restaurant (wear/where) we sometimes go, but I (can’t/cant) remember (it’s/its) name. Any place is really fine, (except/accept) the mall. (It’s/Its) full of loud, screaming children. (I’m/Im) sure you agree, (to/two/too). Just walking (threw/through) the doors makes me cringe.
Use affect as a verb Use effect as a noun. The arrow affected the aardvark. The effect was eye-popping.
Try it… 1)The rain (affected/effected) Sarah’s hair. 2)The (affect/effect) of the lecture was obvious the next day in class.
1. Wars (affect/effect) everybody, and the destructive (affects/effects) last for generations. 2. Television has a strong (affect/effect) on public opinion. 3. My mood can (affect/effect) my thinking, too.
Capital/Capitol Capital: city that serves as the seat of government. Ex: Nashville is the capital of Tennessee.
Capitol The building in which a legislative assembly meets. Think of the “o” in the “dome” of the capitol
Principal/Principle Principle: a rule or doctrine Principal: head of a school, or the non- interest part of a loan. Also-the main part of something. Remember this: The principal of a school is your “pal”—princi-pal. Mr. Nolan is your pal—your princi-pal!
Stationary/Stationery Stationary: something that is standing still Stationery: Fancy-shmancy paper. Stationery has an “e” like the “e” in paper.
Who/Whom Use who when you are referring to the subject of a clause Use whom when you are referring to the object of a clause. *Remember: the subject of the sentence is the person doing something, and the object of the sentence is having something done to them. *If I step on Squiggly, then I am the subject and Squiggly is the object.
Who/Whom Quick Tip! Like whom, the pronoun him ends with m. When you're trying to decide whether to use who or whom, ask yourself if the answer to the question would be he or him. That's the trick: if you can answer the question being asked with him, then use whom, and it's easy to remember because they both end with m. For example, if you're trying to ask, "Who (or whom) do you love?" The answer would be "I love him." Him ends with an m, so you know to use whom. But if you are trying to ask, "Who (or whom) stepped on Squiggly?" the answer would be "He stepped on Squiggly." There's no m, so you know to use who.
Try it! 1.Susan, [who/whom] was in an ugly mood, pushed past a Girl Scout trying to sell cookies. 2. Noel, [who/whom] I’ve known since middle school, has decided to trade in his ancient Honda. The Johnsons, [who/whom] everyone in the neighborhood hates, let their noisy dogs bark all night.
Allusion/Illusion Allusion means "an indirect reference to a person, event, or thing.” Illusion is a noun that means "false impression; hallucination.”
Try it! 1.A pleasant (allusion/illusion) is better than a harsh reality. 2.The mayor's remark "Ich bin ein Springfielder" was an (allusion/illusion) to President John Kennedy's famous speech in West Berlin.
Complement/Compliment Complement: an item that completes another; a counterpart Compliment: a comment of admiration You look so pretty today! (complement or compliment?) The sauce (complements/compliments) the vegetables nicely.
Cite/Sight/Site The verb cite means to mention or quote as an authority or example. (citation) The noun sight refers to something that is seen or the power or process of seeing. The noun site means a particular place. Website
Try it! 1.The National Palace stands on the _____ of Montezuma’s castle. 1.Every student in the class _____ the same article. 2. "Of all the senses, _____ must be the most delightful." (Helen Keller) (Sight, site, cite)
Counsel/Council Council: (n) Leadership group Counsel: (n) advice, guidance (v) to advise 1.Do not seek (council/counsel) from her. She is not trustworthy. 1.The city (council/counsel) meets tonight to discuss the new stop light.
Course/Coarse The adjective coarse means rough, common, inferior, or indecent. The noun course can mean several things, including path, playing field, mode of behavior, unit of study. 1.The Spanish (coarse/course) was difficult, but she passed with a B. 2.The dog’s coat was short and (coarse/course).
Farther/Further The quick tip is to use “farther” for physical distance and “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance. It's easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and“far” obviously relates to physical distance. We drove farther south, making excellent time on the almost empty roads. The meeting ended without any plans for further discussions.
Try it! 1.We need to explore this problem (farther/further). 2.Simon walked (farther/further) into the woods.
Lose/Loose The adjective loose means "not tight.” The verb lose means "not to win" or "not to keep.” Because your belt is loose, you will probably lose your pants.
Try it! 1.The button on my sleeve is (loose/lose). 2.If I (loose/lose) that button, I'm in trouble.
Fewer/Less The basic rule is that you use less with mass nouns and fewer with count nouns. A count noun is something you can count. Mass nouns are things you cannot count individually.
A tip! Think of the grocery store express lane. Most of the signs for these lanes read, “10 items or less,” and that's just wrong. The signs should read, “10 items or fewer,” because items are individual, countable things!
Advice/Advise Advice (n): counsel Advise (v): to give advice I (advice/advise) against you going there at night. Listen to my (advice/advise)!
Precede/Proceed Precede means "to come before." Proceed means "to go forward." Bill Clinton preceded George W. Bush in the White House. Bush proceeded with his plans to increase military spending.
Try it! 1.After keeping us for an hour, the guard let us (precede/proceed). 2.The storms of April (precede/proceed) the gentle rains of May.
Adapt/Adopt Adapt: take something and make it suitable for a specific use or situation. Adopt: take something and make it one's own. You adapt to a situation. You adopt a baby.
Try it! 1.We must (adapt/adopt) to changing circumstances. 2. "Morality is simply the attitude we (adapt/adopt) towards people whom we personally dislike." (Oscar Wilde)
Eminent/Imminent Eminent: prominent or famous Imminent: impending; about to occur Charles Dodgson was an eminent mathematician. The citizens are in imminent danger.
Try it! 1.Novelist Naguib Mahfouz was considered the (eminent/imminent) literary voice of the Arab world. 2. The death of conventional newspapers appears to be (eminent/imminent).
Assure/Ensure/Insure Assure: to remove doubt or anxiety Ensure: to guarantee an event or condition Insure: to provide or obtain financial liability (insurance) "Do not worry about your problems with mathematics. I assure you mine are far greater." (Albert Einstein) The USDA must act to ensure safety in school lunch programs. She has not been able to insure her Bugatti, a valuable old car.
Which/That Use that before a restrictive clause Use which before everything else What is a restrictive clause?--Part of a sentence that you can't get rid of because it specifically restricts some other part of the sentence. Ex: "Cars that have hybrid technology get great gas mileage." Are all cars hybrids? No. Therefore it is restrictive…it is a detail that MUST be included. The science fair, which lasted all day, ended with an awards ceremony. Which lasted all day is not crucial to the sentence or its meaning.
Dear Abby… Dear Abby is the name of the advice column founded in 1956 Still syndicated today and appears in newspapers
Dear Abby Example DEAR ABBY: I am 16 but will be 17 in a few months. I have known my boyfriend, "John," for two years. He is my first boyfriend. After four months of dating, John has asked me to marry him, and I said yes. He had been hinting about an engagement, and I didn't have the heart to say otherwise. John is very dear to me, but I keep hearing people say, "Keep your options open." I told John that I am young (he's 18), and I want to take it slowly, but he says if I break up with him to date other guys, he will never date me again. Abby, I want to make sure John is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. Sometimes I wish I hadn't started dating him because I feel too young to be engaged or married. I love John dearly. I don't want to break his heart or mine. I am also scared I might mess up this relationship. What should I do to make myself believe that I have found my true love? --- STUCK IN OKLAHOMA
Dear Abby example response.. DEAR STUCK: You should have been absolutely honest with John from the beginning. When you have found your own true love, you won't have to "make yourself" believe it. You will KNOW it. John is pressuring you because he is afraid if you start dating others he won't measure up. For both your sakes, tell him that you are not ready to make the kind of commitment he is demanding. He may not like hearing it, but it is the truth. You won't break his heart, and once you have done it, you will feel a sense of relief.
Your Assignment You will write a “Dear Abby” letter about a real or fake problem. In the letter, you must use AT LEAST 10 of the Commonly Confused Words we reviewed today. Underline each word you use. Once you are finished, you will swap with a partner. On your partner’s paper, you will write a response to his or her Dear Abby letter. In your response, you will use at least 5 of the words.