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!
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.
Tautologies — that is, expressing the same idea in different words — waste words and can annoy your reader. Here is a list of tautologies and some alternatives. You can use our free online editor to automatically check your text for these and other common tautologies (and other writing flaws). Or, if you really want some powerful editing software, try the popular editing software, StyleWriter for $150. If $150 is too much for you, then an excellent middle range option is RightWriter for just $29.95.
A great way of enlivening your writing, whether it's an essay, an email, a poem, a blog post, or a short story, is to use similes.
People sometimes email us questions or post questions on the English Language Skills Facebook™ Page about spelling, vocabulary, writing, and other English-related topics. As a result, we have decided to select some of the best questions and post the answers for everyone to read. The first Question and Answer comes from Monique about "Collecting Words".
ANTI and ANTE are both prefixes. They are added to the front of other words to create new words with new meanings. However, even though there is only one letter's difference between them, ANTI and ANTE have quite different meanings.
English has many words that sound similar, and are even spelled similarly, but have quite different meanings. In this article, we look at some such words, starting with C, and explain the differences between them.