In previous lists of misused words and phrases, I listed some fairly common examples of words and phrases that people sometimes misuse. The following list of misused words and phrases is harder to believe, but these are genuine English mistakes, made by students and others. I have collected these misused words and phrases from several sources. Enjoy!
Here are some more words and phrases that we have heard and read people confuse from time-to-time.
As we said in the first part of "Misused Idioms and Phrases", a misused word or phrase can damage your credibility as a writer or speaker. Here is another selection of phrases and sayings that you should take care to get right.
Regular readers of English Language Skills will know that we like the plain language software, StyleWriter by Editor Software. But, at $150, people have asked us to recommend a less expensive program for improving your writing. After reviewing the editing and writing software on the market, we are happy to recommend RightWriter. As with all grammar checkers and editing software, RightWriter has its limitations. But at only $29.95, RightWriter represents excellent value for money. Continue reading for our review of RightWriter.
There are lots of so-called grammar checkers and editing programs on the market and Denise and I have tried and tested most of them. We have even developed our own free grammar checker and plain English converter, which we have uploaded to this website under Free Editor. Read on to learn more about grammar checkers and how you can get the most from our own free grammar checker.
Why on earth does English have both enquiry and inquiry — are they different words or not? Read on to discover the answer to this conundrum!
There is a lot of research on the persuasiveness, or otherwise, of so-called "hedge words" — words that qualify a statement or make you sound equivocal (such as "possibly" and "probably"). Most research I have read recommends eliminating hedge words, where you can. More nuanced research suggests that qualified statements can be more persuasive than unqualified statements, depending on your audience. For example, if your reader knows and is interested in your subject, then qualified statements may persuade them more than unqualified statements; however, for people who do not know your subject or who are uninterested or who are too busy to really pay attention, then hedge words can deplete the strength and meaning of your message. Here is a list of hedge words to think carefully about.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but using emphatic language can sometimes weaken your argument rather than strengthen your argument. By contrast, understatement has much more persuasive force. Look at the following list of emphatic words and phrases and think about whether you really need them in your writing.
If you're like me, then you prefer to read what did happen rather than what did not happen. To improve your writing, try turning negative words and phrases into "positive" words and phrases. Here is a list that might help you.