I don’t know everything there is to know about writing, but I’m learning as I go, and what I do know, I’d like to share with those of you who love the craft. That’s why I’m starting Write For Your Life Wednesdays, where I’ll post tidbits of priceless info I’ve picked up from other great authors, bloggers, and the good old fashioned act of making mistakes.
This first Write For Your Life post may be the most invaluable of all, and I’m going to give it to you in the form of a nice and neat cheat sheet. Following is a list of commonly confused words. Some of them get jumbled because our fingers slide along the keyboard trying to keep up with our imaginations and sometimes miss a vital part of the message. We know these words and how they should be used, but once we type them wrong, they can be hard to spot. Then there are some on the list that get mixed up because we really didn’t know there was a difference. I have been guilty of several of these, but no more! Keep this list handy, and once you’re ready to polish your manuscript, do a quick “edit” + “find” for them and voila – you have a much cleaner creation.
Ready or not, here are 26 rules to write by:
1) Effect – noun vs. Affect – verb
2) Counsel – advice or guidance vs. A Counsel – a lawyer or counselor vs. A Council – body of people assembled for a purpose (the members are Councillors)
3) Adverse – usually applies to situations & means hostile or antagonistic vs. Averse – used to describe a person’s attitude & means reluctant
4) Lightening – to illuminate or make less heavy vs. Lightning – bolts of electricity
5) Rack – to strain, as in rack your brain vs. Wrack – an old time form of wreck
6) Compliment – to praise vs. Complement – to complete or make perfect
7) Course – direction or route, to run through vs. Coarse – harsh, vulgar, rough, not delicate
8) Conscience – moral principles vs. Conscious – aware, alert, having active mental faculties
9) Vile – wretched vs. Vial – small container for holding liquid
10) Break – to smash or fracture, to rest or pause vs. Brake – to slow a vehicle, the mechanisms to slow a vehicle
11) Teeming – swarming with vs. Teaming – to join as a team
12) Creak – a squeak vs. Creek – a stream
13) Waist – narrow part of the torso vs. Waste – to wear away, to destroy, to use more than you need
14) Merry – happy vs. Marry – to join, as in man & wife
15) Bear – to hold or support, to bring forth or give birth, to move as in bear north, the ferocious beast or snugly teddy vs. Bare – naked
16) Peak – the top or summit vs. Peek – to peep or snoop vs. Pique – to excite, as in one’s interest
17) Lose – to misplace something or not win vs. Loose – not tight
18) Feet – the plural of foot vs. Feat – an accomplishment or a goal
Time for some
annoying easy ones!
19) Your – possessive vs. You’re – you are
20) Their – possessive vs. They’re – they are vs. There – that place
21) Were – was vs. We’re – we are vs. Where – which place vs. Wear – to adorn, as in clothes
22) Its – possessive vs. It’s – it is
23) To – used to indicate a direction, the opposite of from vs. Two – a number vs. Too – in addition, to an excessive extent
24) Then – at that time, next in order of time vs. Than – used to compare two words
Time for two bonus cheats!
25) Always take the S off towards
26) Change alright to all right
What commonly confused words trick you? I’m sure I’ve missed a few, so if you think of more, post them below and make us all better writers.
I hope this cheat sheet helps you polish your work. And make sure you subscribe by email at the top of the Home page to receive future Write For Your Life posts in your inbox.