Common English Confusion
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- A vs. An – A is used before all words beginning with a CONSONANT SOUND or a HARD or sounded H. (A home, a hospital, a heavy load, a unique sound, a historical society.) An is used before all words beginning with a VOWEL SOUND or a SILENT H. (An ox, an honor, an unusual sound, an HTML document.)
- Anytime – (also Any time) 1. at whatever time: she can come any time. 2. without exception or doubt: I can handle a shrimp like him anytime.
- Addicted – One is physically addicted to something. Dependent – One is psychologically dependent on something.
- All right. NEVER alright.
- All together refers to a unity of time or place (we were all together at Thanksgiving). Altogether means wholly or entirely (that story is altogether false).
- Already vs. All Ready – Already refers to time (the movie has already started). All Ready refers to people's preparation (are the actors all ready?).
- Amiable means friendly, but refers to people. Amicable means friendly, but refers to relationships.
- Anxious – Avoid this as a synonym for eager. It means worried or stressed.
- Anyone – Anyone would know that. Any one – Do you recognize any one of those boys?
- Anywhere – My keys could be anywhere. Any place – They couldn't find any place to sit down. NEVER anyplace.
- Appreciate – To understand fully, to increase in value, or to be grateful for something.
- As is – Something is purchased ''as is,'' which means it has no guarantees or representations of quality. Also, always use it within quotation marks.
- Avocation is a hobby. Vocation is a profession.
- Awhile vs. a while – awhile is adverbial (Let's stop here awhile). a while – This version is a noun phrase that follows the preposition for (she worked for a while before beginning graduate studies).
- Bi means two (Biweekly means every two weeks).
Semi means half (Semiweekly means twice a week).
- Biannual and Semiannual both mean twice a year.
Biennial means once every two years, or every other year.