One important concept of understanding and using correct grammar is knowing what is incorrect. Two basic categories are examined—words that aren't even words and the sound-alikes/look-alikes. Ten commonly misused words are presented in this lesson, along with a discussion of why each word is incorrect and how to use each correctly.
- [Instructor] Look at this paragraph. Look carefully. Notice anything. Look again and count the number of words or word groups that are misused. Three, five, seven. If you said 10 you are correct. Here are the 10. Let's analyze them one by one. First, irregardless isn't a word that has any correct use or meaning. The correct word is regardless.
Irregardless is never correct. Why? The prefix ir means not or non. So technically, irregardless would mean that you do have regard for something which is not the message the writer intends. Alot. Again alot is one word is always incorrect. It needs to be written as two words. A lot of people will vote. The word a-l-l-o-t, allot is correct, meaning to give each person his or her share. Please allot each voter 10 minutes to complete the ballot.
Unthaw. Think about that. Un is another of those prefixes that means not or non. So unthaw technically means, to freeze. Another word that isn't in a word group. Would of should always be would have. We use the contraction so often, w-o-u-l-d aprostrophe v-e, and read it as would of, and then write it the way it sounds. Would have, along with should have and could have, should always be used.
Misunderestimate should be either misestimate, or underestimate, or overestimate. If we misestimate we estimate incorrectly which could be under or over. So misunderestimate is another nonword. Alright. Well it's not all right if it's spelled as one word. This needs to be two words. An easy way to remember this is would you ever write all wrong as one word? So if there's no all wrong as one word, there's no all right as one word.
Supposably. No, the correct word is supposedly, e-d, not a-b. He supposedly vetoed the amendment. Could care less. That phrase means that you do care, at least a little. So you do have room to reduce the amount of care you have. Couldn't care less is what most people mean when they use the phrase, meaning do not care at all. All intensive purposes. I suppose if I thought long enough, I could think of a sentence in which those words would make sense.
But the correct phrase is all intents and purposes, meaning for all practical purposes. Often Henry VIII is credited with the phrase used in a legal act, so it dates back at least to the 1500s. Undoubtably, as in undoubtably it'll be fixed by Friday. There's that a-b again, that should be e-d, as in undoubtedly. The a-b version is another nonword. So that takes care of the 10 errors in the paragraph. But let's continue by looking at words that are correct, have the same letters and sound the same, but are often used incorrectly.
All together, all ready, every one, and every day, as two words, or altogether, already, everyone, and everyday as one word. Both versions are words but must used in the correct context. All together as two words means collectively as a group. We cheered for the team all together. You could write, we cheered for the team as a group. Another way you can check this is separating the words in the sentence.
Does the sentence still make sense? We all cheered for the team together. Altogether as one word means entirely, completely, or totally. As employees we are altogether too overworked. We are entirely, completely, totally overworked. Any one of those synonyms to replace altogether make sense. All ready as in all prepared, the children were all ready for the picnic. All the children were ready for the picnic. It still makes sense.
But I've already, one word, applied for the next job. The one word indicates a time statement completed in the past. Does everyone understand the difference? One or two words. In that example, one word is correct. Everyone, try everybody, that works also. You are referring to all the people in the group. What about this sentence? Every one of the employees received a raise. Now we need two words. Using two words means you're referring to each individual in the group.
Each person. Try inserting the word single in the second example. Every single one of the employees. Every day we will check the reports. Inserting single is also a good way to check every day and everyday. Everyday the one word version is an adjective. Checking the report is an everyday occurrence. Other words in this category are a while and any one. Before starting the meeting, wait awhile for the sales people who haven't been to a meeting in a while to arrive.
Any one of us could be elected, but anyone who wants to remove her name from the ballot must do so by noon. Do you hear and see the difference? Primarily in this lesson, we've looked at two categories of misused words. Words that really don't exist, at least for which there is no correct use, and words that sound alike, look alike, and are spelled alike, except we have the one word, and the two word versions. You can always check an online source to verify that you are using the correct word.
- Practicing verb tense
- Using irregular verbs
- Using conjunctions
- Placing modifiers in the correct location
- Using adjectives vs. adverbs
- Using commas
- Using semicolons
- Avoiding dangling modifiers
- Achieving parallel structure