Top Misused Words Part VIII

If something doesn’t sit well with you, will you be able to set aside your feelings?

If your brother turned into a frog, should you turn him in to your parents? Does the principal establish the principle of the thing? And frankly, is every supermarket Express Line wrong?

We’re back again with the next 5 most commonly misused words in the English language and we’re tackling some tough phrases that can be incredibly confusing. Without further delay, here they are!

Fewer vs. Less

fewer – Used with count nouns (nouns that can be pluralized when needed), fewer is a quantifier indicating “a smaller number of.”

Incorrect: Yellow Express Lane: 10 Items or Less
Correct: Yellow Express Lane: 10 Items or Fewer

less – Used with non-count nouns or mass nouns (a noun that indicates both plural and non plural when appropriate), less indicates a “smaller amount of” or “not as much.”

Incorrect: The rabid mongoose would do fewer harm if it were given ping pong paddles.
Correct: The rabid mongoose would do less harm if it were given ping pong paddles.

Into vs. In to

into – Expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something makes physical contact with, becomes enclosed, or is surrounded by something else. Combined with the word “turn,” into also indicates changing someone or something into someone or something else.

Incorrect: She imagined turning her boss in to a newt.
Correct: She imagined turning her boss into a newt.

in to – The adverb “in” (expressing movement with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else) is followed by preposition “to” (expressing motion in the direction). Combined with the word “turn,” in to also indicates giving, passing, or exchanging someone or something to someone or something else.

Incorrect: She turned her report into her boss.
Correct: She turned her report in to her boss.

Past vs. Passed

past – Reference to a distance or a period of time before now.

Incorrect: The tourists drove passed the large dark aardvark in the park.
Correct: The tourists drove past the large dark aardvark in the park.

passed – The action of passing; i.e., to move or cause to move in a specified direction to go past or across or to leave behind.

Incorrect: The aardvark past the time burrowing.
Correct: The aardvark passed the time burrowing.

Principle vs. Principal

principle – A fundamental source or basis of something.

Incorrect: “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principal is always a vice.” – Thomas Paine
Correct: “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.” – Thomas Paine

principal – First in order of importance main, denoting an original sum invest or lent (money), or the person with the highest authority.

Incorrect: The winners are paid from the interest without even touching the principle.
Correct: The winners are paid from the interest without even touching the principal.

Set vs. Sit

set – To put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position.

Incorrect: Sit the fence post into a bed of concrete for added stability.
Correct: Set the fence post into a bed of concrete for added stability.

sit – To adopt or rest with the torso vertical and the body supported on the buttocks; to remain inactive or unused; to be engaged in business; or the way in which an item of clothing fits someone.

Incorrect: The idea didn’t set well with Fernado.
Correct: The idea didn’t sit well with Fernado.

Maintain your credibility with your audience by proofreading your articles for these misused words and making any necessary revisions. Do you have any misused words you’d like to see added to the Top Misused Words series? Share them in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!

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

26 Comments »


1
Sonny Dinger writes:

Hi There,
Yes, thank you for these reminders,
Now,..what happens here ,did we not edit just right,
even though we edited more than once?
Or not aware at the time some are right and some are incorrect.?

I know I miss the mark many times.
Thank you for a great reminder/tips
Happy Day
Sonny

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM

[Reply]

Hi Sonny,

The email you used is not connected to your account. If you have questions regarding a particular article we recommend contacting our Member Support Team so they can clarify the issue further. You can do this, by using the Contact Us button within your My.EzineArticles account.

~Vanessa

[Reply]

2

Fixing grammatical errors can be a daunting task in case one is not aware of minute grammar rules. Once you master over it you can easily spot and fix the issue easily.

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM

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Durwood Walker writes:

Not to be critical for its sake, but were you being intentionally redundant with “master over” and the two “easilys” in your post.

I know it gets difficult to be grammatically correct at all times. So, I’m making this comment with the utmost humility.

[Reply]

marge90601 writes:

Master it, not over it.
Easy, just one easily is enough.

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3
Amy writes:

I cannot stand the misuse (and overuse) of the word “literally”. People seem to be using it in lieu of “seriously” or “very” to simply put emphasis on their point. It’s not being used properly, meaning “as opposed to figuratively”. For example, saying “I was literally scared to death” instead of “I was very scared!”. I doubt someone dead can speak. That drives me crazy-figuratively!

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

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4
Myhox writes:

Sometime, these words become crtical to use on the proper places, even a native makes mistake. Thank you for enlightening this post.

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 1:07 PM

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5
Randall Magwood writes:

“Past vs. Passed”

I’m terrible with this lol. My grammar isn’t the best when writing (and mainly when talking), but i still know how to have my reader understand where i’m coming from – despite typos.

Another one i’m bad with is “Principle vs Principal”

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

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Robin writes:

Randall … remember that you can have a principal as a pal, but not a principle. That might help.

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6
Robin writes:

I’ve noticed that many US writers use “loose” instead of “lose” and the term “off of” always sends a shiver down my spine.

Thanks for another great article.

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 2:54 PM

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7
Nathan writes:

Further vs farther

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM

[Reply]

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for the suggestion!

~Vanessa

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CH James writes:

An easy way to keep these straight is to remember farther refers to physical distance. Something can be near to you or FAR away – and FAR sits right at the beginning or FARther! One example being, “The tree was farther away from him than the shrub.”

Further is a reference to time or circumstance: “He wanted to further his education.”

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8
Gracious Store writes:

Thanks for explaining the correct usage these miss used words. I often confuse the use of into and in to. Thanks for clarify their correct usage

Comment provided September 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM

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9
Marc writes:

Yes, you might want to avoid making grammatical mistakes, in an email detailing the same. ;-)

These are both incorrect:

Incorrect: The rabid mongoose would do fewer harm if it was given ping pong paddles.
Correct: The rabid mongoose would do less harm if it was given ping pong paddles.

They should read:

Incorrect: The rabid mongoose would do fewer harm if it *were* given ping pong paddles.
Correct: The rabid mongoose would do less harm if it *were* given ping pong paddles.

It’s the future conditional case. Since the rabid mongoose hasn’t been given ping-pong paddles in the past, and any harm it can do can only occur in future instances, were is the correct tense of the verb.

Comment provided September 26, 2013 at 1:10 AM

[Reply]

Great catch, Marc!

You’re right. The post has been updated. :)

~Vanessa

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10
Saje Dennis writes:

Yes, most of the expert writer making like this errors, I think this blog post would be a great help professional writers to correct the same.

Comment provided September 26, 2013 at 1:20 AM

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11
James Hammond writes:

The worst one for me is the constant misuse of ‘it’s’ and ‘its’. It seems that everyone now uses ‘it’s’ for both senses.

‘It’s’ is short for ‘it is’. That is the only time it should be used. So, ‘It’s raining outside’ is the correct usage.

Whereas ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun. It refers to ownership. ‘The dog could not find its bone’ or ‘The restaurant is known for its delicious food.’

As long as you remember that ‘it’s’ means ‘it is’ then it should be easy to determine which one should be used in a sentence.

Comment provided September 26, 2013 at 1:43 AM

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12
Ruth Adams writes:

In Mathematics, which is correct?

(a) Five is less than seven.
(b) Five is fewer than seven.

Comment provided September 26, 2013 at 2:42 AM

[Reply]

Hi Ruth,

In this case you would use:

Five is less than seven

~Vanessa

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Robin writes:

Less is used for countable nouns as in maths ie, “five is less than seven” is correct.

Fewer is used for people eg, “fewer people attended the conference this year.” Other non-countable nouns are included eg, “fewer sheep died this year.”

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13
Sunil Chadha writes:

Yes I like so much of in this post I agree that grammar is very impotent port of writing article content.

Comment provided September 26, 2013 at 3:09 AM

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14
Frank Barbera writes:

Excellent article. Here’s some others I thought of:

The Town Cryer or is it Crier wasCrying or Crieing because he lost the winning lottery ticket?

The Town Crier or Cryer Cryin aloud or crying loudly?
There are even more choices if the sentence is spun.

Comment provided September 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM

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15
Robert King writes:

Good article. What about the difference between “affect” and “effect”, the same with “affective” and “effective”.

Comment provided September 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM

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16
Teresa writes:

Please give us some kind of a exam? It would be great to find out if I will choose the right answer. This way I will stop to misuse the words. Thank you

Comment provided November 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM

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17
ET Carlton writes:

Fewer/Less! Drives me CRAZY! Thank you for spreading the word. There IS a difference!

Comment provided May 1, 2014 at 9:16 PM

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