Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Words Often Confused

If you know the difference between your/you're; then/than; lose/loose, then you probably won't be subject to ridicule or lose respect from fellow writers. This is from a photocopied booklet in my English class, so I don't know who to give credit to.

  • A is used before a word that begins with a consonant, plus u when it sounds like 'you'.
    • a pencil, a union, a European trip
  • An is used before a word that begins with a vowel sound. It's the sound that matters, not the letter.
    • an apple, an hour, an umpire
  • Accept is a verb and it means to 'receive willingly.'
    • I accept your invitation. (I willingly receive your invitation sounds a bit weird, but it makes sense.)
  • Except means 'excluding' or 'but.'
    • Everyone came except him. (Everyone came but him.)
  • Affect is a verb and means 'to influence.'
    • Her advice may affect his decision.
  • Effect means 'result.' If a, an or the is in front of the word, then it isn't a verb and will be effect.
    • His words had a great effect on the crowd.
    • The rain had no effect on the attendance.
  • It's a contraction and means 'it is' or 'it has'
    • It's cold. (It is cold.)
  • Its is a possessive. (Possessive like its, yours, hers, ours, theirs and whose are already possessive and don't need apostrophes.)
    • The committee gave its review.
  • Loose means 'not tight.' A trick to remember is that loose is roomy enough for two o's.
    • My pants are loose and baggy.
  • Lose misplaced its second o, so it only has one.
    • We're going to lose the game.
  • Passed is a verb.
    • He passed the house.
  • Use past when it's not a verb.
    • He walked past the house is the same as he walked by the house, so it's not a verb.
  • "Piece of pie." The one meaning a piece of something always begins with pie.
    • I gave that kid a piece of my mind.
  • Peace is the opposite of war.
    • They signed the peace treaty.
  • Than compares two things.
    • I'd rather have this than that.
  • Then tells when (then and when rhyme)
    • He finished his test and then he went home.
  • Their is a possessive.
    • Their house is pink.
  • There points out something (the three words indicating a place or pointing out something all have here in them: here. there, where).
    • I was sure I left it there.
  • They're is a contraction. Just substiture they are and see if it works.
    • They're happy now. (They are happy now.)
  • Two is number.
    • I have two dogs.
  • Too means 'more than enough' and 'also.' (Too has more than enough o's.) 
    • The lesson was too long.
    • I found it boring too.
  • Use to for all the other meanings.
    • He's going to the beach.
  • Were is a verb
    • We were miles away from home.
  • Where refers to a place. (Remember that the three words indicating a place or pointing out something all have here in them: here. there, where)
    • Where is he?
  • Woman is singular. One female.
    • That woman is my mother.
  • Women is plural. A bunch of females.
    • Those women are loud.
  • You're is a contraction and means 'you are.' (If the sentence works when you replace you're with you are, you're good.)
    • You're welcome. (You are welcome.)
  • Your is a possessive.
    • Your toast is ready.
Gotta love my English teacher's stash of booklets, right? Actually, I think every English teacher in my school has their stash. Another one has piles of writing tips and materials printed out. He also said something very useful to his class. "You can't prepare for an English exam, so you just bullsh!t it."

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