Top Misused Words Part VI

If he formerly stepped down, does that mean he never stepped down, or he stepped down in the past and now he has resumed his position as CEO?

Even the most adept Expert Authors will make grammar mistakes because of distractions. However, there is also another phenomenon that occurs – too much focus! Such strenuous focus on one area may be causing your brain to filter out incoming information, which may be causing some errors to hide in plain sight.

What’s the remedy? Give your brain one task at a time to focus by writing in stages:

  1. Outline (Everything you need to say)
  2. Draft (Flesh out the outline)
  3. Edit (Add/Remove content)
  4. Proofread (Search for grammar errors)

What should you be looking for? Aside from misspelled words, run-on sentences, and the usual suspects, keep an eye out for these commonly misused words.

Upmost vs. Utmost

upmost – another term for UPPERMOST; highest in place, rank, or importance.

Incorrect: Jed said he would clean the utmost stairwell in the building.
Correct: Jed said he would clean the upmost stairwell in the building.

utmost – most extreme; greatest.

Incorrect: Ping pong is a sport that requires the upmost display of athleticism.
Correct: Ping pong is a sport that requires the utmost display of athleticism.

Unkept vs. Unkempt

unkept – a commitment not honored or fulfilled.

Incorrect: Kim’s calendar is full of unkempt appointments.
Correct: Kim’s calendar is full of unkept appointments.

unkempt – (especially of a person) having an untidy or dishevelled appearance.

Incorrect: Sally’s hair looked unkept today.
Correct: Sally’s hair looked unkempt today.

Wont vs. Won’t

wont – as a noun, one’s customary behavior; as an adjective, (of a person) in the habit of or accustomed to doing something.

Incorrect: David said he would wont to stay on the couch all day and play video games with his friend Jack.
Correct: David, as is his wont, stayed on the couch all day playing video games with his friend Jack.

won’t – contraction of will not.

Incorrect: Line dancing is something Jessica wont do.
Correct: Line dancing is something Jessica won’t do.

Bellow vs. Below

bellow – to emit a loud roar in pain or anger; a deep roaring sound.

Incorrect:
“Bwwwwwaarrrrrr!”
“What was that?” asked Jack.
“That’s the below of a dying beast,” replied Jeanne.
Correct:
“Bwwwwwaarrrrrr!”
“What was that?” asked Jack.
“That’s the bellow of a dying beast,” replied Jeanne.

below – extending underneath; at a lower level.

Incorrect: Adhere to the tips bellow to succeed!
Correct: Adhere to the tips below to succeed!

Formerly vs. Formally

formerly – in the past; in earlier times.

Incorrect: Mike formally believed that rabbits produced chocolate eggs.
Correct: Mike formerly believed that rabbits produced chocolate eggs.

formally – in accordance with the rules of convention or etiquette; officially.

Incorrect: The headline read: “CEO Formerly Steps Down.”
Correct: The headline read: “CEO Formally Steps Down.”

Proofread to maintain your credibility with your audience by focusing on these misused words. Keep your eyes peeled for more words to add/remove to or from your grammar arsenal. If you have any misused words you’d like to see added to the Top Misused Words series, fire away by sharing them in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!

Check out Top Misused Words Parts I, II, III, IV, and V for more!

28 Comments »


1
Paban Bhuyan writes:

I have the same problem with the two words utmost and upmost. Today I my concept got cleared

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

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2

Nice to refresh and remind about these common misused words. Keep going with more such articles.

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

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3
Nancy Lowell writes:

This is a fun series! I am a grammer freak, so appreciate this. Looking forward to your take on the super-overused/mis-used ‘literally’!!

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 1:40 PM

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4
Jose Quintero writes:

We can see how people gets confused with the similarity of words. Excellent Article, look at my website you can make comments as well on my blog.

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

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5
CH James writes:

If I saw those upmost/utmost mistakes in an article or copy, I would have to X-out of the window immediately, just on principle!

I think it’s another instance of people writing the way they *think* they hear things, which is probably my biggest pet peeve. The prime example of that is “should of/could of” being used (and abused) instead of the phonetically similar but structurally different “should’ve/could’ve.”

Thanks for keeping everybody on their toes with another great addition to the series!

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 4:06 PM

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6
Russell Stewart writes:

I was always taught not to begin a sentence with ‘But’ or And’ yet I see many modern Authors and Journalist’s writing this way.

Your thoughts?

Russ

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 7:32 PM

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Russell,

Officially, you shouldn’t start a sentence with a conjunction. However, it’s becoming more and more prevalent and, quite honestly, just feels “right” on occasion. My personal feeling is to use them sparingly and in more informal writing.

I’d love to hear what others think.

Marc

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M Davis writes:

Because the big rule of writing for the web is this:

Write like you talk!

And people don’t talk in stilted sentences – they speak naturally, which begets audible transitions that utilize conjunctions.

Here is an article I wrote on the subject:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-for-the-Web:-Engage-Your-Audience-With-a-Conversational-Style&id=7475138

{NOTE: Not trying to be self-serving, just trying to help – remove the link if it’s a problem EzineArticles gurus :) }

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7
Joaseph Dabon writes:

I am no English professor but getting these words mixed up is kind of stretching one’s imagination to the ridiculous limits.

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 7:46 PM

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8
Mary writes:

Great post! May I add my personal pet peeve —

Regimen, Regiment, and Regime

REGIMEN is a routine, commonly associated with health and wellness

Ex. — She lost 15 pounds after her doctor put her on a new regimen of vitamins, diet, and exercise.

REGIMENT is a division within a fighting group, similar to a Company or a Battalion

Ex. — My uncle was assigned to the 51st Regiment during the Korean Conflict.

REGIME – a set of conditions, most commonly associated with an authoritarian rule or dictatorial form of government.

Ex. – Idi Amin Dada’s regime was notorious for its brutality and its crimes against humanity.

*********************************

Whew – thanks for letting me rant — I feel better already! :)

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

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9
Randall Magwood writes:

“Formerly vs. Formally” always gets me. I often write the word “formerly” when formally introducing myself to someone via email lol.

Comment provided February 15, 2013 at 9:31 PM

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10
Ron Gore writes:

Would you please explain proper use of “I” and “ME?”

Comment provided February 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

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Ron,

Wow, that’s a tall order! Would you please be more specific?

Marc

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M Davis writes:

In a nutshell: I parallels he or she. Me parallels him or her.

He is going to a play; I am going to a play.

She likes soccer; I like soccer.

vs.

Please forward the email to him; please forward the email to me.

It bothers him when people are late; it bothers me when people are late.

This is just a general guideline but should steer you in the right direction when in doubt.

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11
Jonathan Wilder writes:

I am also anal when it comes to grammar. One grammatical mistake that I have heard a lot is using the word penultimate incorrectly. It really means “next to the last” and is oftentimes used as meaning the ultimate.

I also love this series!

Comment provided February 16, 2013 at 5:08 PM

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12
Ethan Pariseau writes:

I really enjoy these articles. I hadn’t even thought about “wont” before. I never really use it. This is a nice refresher.

Comment provided February 17, 2013 at 5:20 AM

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13
Kern Lewis writes:

This has been a great series. I have not yet seen the abuse of the reflexive pronoun “myself” included in these articles. Did I miss it somewhere? I received an e-mail response from a marketing representative just this week with the following in it:

“In order to set expectations appropriately, the (company name) team starts off with arranging a first session with myself (a short, 15 minute call to gain an understanding of your landscape).

Might you have 15 minutes to chat with myself either today or later this week?”

The same error twice in one communication!
And someone once told me the phrase “…such as myself” is correct, while “…like me” is correct.

Comment provided February 17, 2013 at 1:14 PM

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14
Preston Mcbride writes:

“Upmost” and “utmost” I haven’t realized the difference until now. I feel so ashamed hahah

Comment provided February 17, 2013 at 9:43 PM

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15
Mia Klaus writes:

Thanks for this, “Formerly vs. Formally” and “wont vs won’t” always confused me. Will follow your blog to improve my English. Thanks again :)

Comment provided February 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM

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16
Shankar Banjara writes:

interesting to refresh and remind about these common misused words, great post

Comment provided February 18, 2013 at 4:51 AM

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17
Arun Goyal writes:

WONT – A rarely used one. Thanks for sharing!

Comment provided February 18, 2013 at 5:13 AM

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18
Sam Gouche writes:

This is a good series. I must admit the more I write the more I seem to question certain terms it’s like going back to school sometimes.

Comment provided February 18, 2013 at 7:33 AM

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19
Glen writes:

My current #1 peeve is supposably used in place of supposedly. I don’t recall the issue being common in my youth, but in the last say, five years, it has gotten to be rampant. I shudder when I hear this one. Worse yet is when I hear the non-word “supposively.”

Something is supposable when it is plausible or could happen. Something supposed is alleged to have already happened.

Comment provided February 18, 2013 at 10:34 AM

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20
Gayle writes:

What evidence is there that these are commonly misused? Hard to believe.

Here are my top two, based on personal experience:

adverse vs. averse

bad vs. badly

Comment provided February 20, 2013 at 1:59 PM

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Gayle,

The words we choose actually come from a list generated by unapproved articles. So you could say those are the top misused words of EzineArticles Expert Authors.

Marc

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21
George writes:

Thanks for pointing out the bunch of mistakes we have a potential to make working on articles. Some mistakes are glaring while other are very subtle but makes a twist in the article which author is not expecting to provide.

Comment provided February 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM

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22
Deena Bogan writes:

I don’t think I’ve seen this one before and didn’t know where else to mention it: use of “might” versus “may”, as in “You might consider this constraint…” versus “You may consider this constraint…”. In that context, I’d use “might”.

What say you?

Comment provided May 20, 2013 at 6:05 PM

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23
Shankar Banjara writes:

The same error twice in one communication! One grammatical mistake that I have heard a lot is using the word penultimate incorrectly. Thanks for this, “Formerly vs. Formally” and “wont vs won’t” always confused me.

Comment provided February 21, 2017 at 3:12 AM

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