Issa Asad Says Don’t Look Dumb! NEVER Misuse These 5 Words Again
English grammar – sometimes it can seem like a nightmare, even for people who did well in their high school English classes!
There are many words that sound deceptively similar to one another and, in the case of homophones, some words that sound exactly the same. This leads to many pitfalls you’ll want to be aware of when it comes to writing or speaking.
“Making mistakes in writing or speaking doesn’t mean you’re stupid, but people are quick to judge and it can, unfortunately, damage your credibility in the eyes of others,” said Issa Asad Florida entrepreneur and social media expert since 1996. Mr. Asad is the CEO of Q Link Wireless and Quadrant Holdings, located in South Florida. He is also the author of 4 e-commerce and marketing e-books that can be purchased on Amazon.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest some time in recognizing these common errors; after all, you’re most likely going to be using English for the rest of your life, so why not refine it?
Affect or Effect?
To start off we’ll look at probably the most frequent mistake when it comes to writing: using “effect” instead of “affect” or the other way around. The two words are related to each other, but “affect” is almost always used as a verb whereas “effect” is almost always used as a noun. Simply put, if you’re “affecting” something you are creating an “effect” (an effect is the same thing as a result). If that sounds confusing, consider this example: “The film affected her deeply; it had an effect on her.” “Effect” can sometimes be used as a verb and “affect” as a noun, but these are rare and not really worth mentioning. Simply remember that “affect” is an action and “effect” is a noun and you’ll be good to go!
Lie or Lay?
The words “lie” and “lay” are dreaded by many and when to use which can be very confusing. Would you say “I lay the shovel on the ground” or “I lie the shovel on the ground?” In fact, you would use the first option: “I lay the shovel on the ground.” This is because the verb has an object, in this case the shovel. The simple rule with “lie” and “lay” is to use “lay” when you are acting upon something, when you are laying an object down. All this is further confused by the fact that you would say “I lie down on my bed” and not “I lay down on my bed” when using the present tense. However, this is to be expected because there is no object! Usage gets even more muddled when in the past tense, but try to remember that in the past tense the words are the opposite of what you would expect: “lay” is the past tense of “lie” (as in “I lay down that evening.”) and “laid” is the past tense of “lay” (I laid the shovel on the ground.”).
Comprise or Compose?
Comprise and compose are another two words that are often used incorrectly. Because they are so similar in meaning, people expect them to be interchangeable. However, this isn’t the case: there is a difference in meaning between the two words, but the problem is that that difference is very subtle. The disparity here is best illustrated by the fact that it’s only correct to use the word “comprise” when the subject comes first, and “compose” when the parts come first. Remember it this way: The subject comprises, the parts compose. The deck of cards is comprised of 52 cards, while the 52 cards compose the deck. The house comprises ten rooms, while ten rooms compose the house. You could never say “Ten rooms comprise the house” or “The deck of cards composes 52 cards.”
Ironic or Coincidental?
The word “ironic” is certainly overused and very frequently misused. It’s often misused because it has a very specific meaning, which is, contrary to popular belief, NOT the same as “coincidental.” The rule for irony is that it is the opposite of what was intended or expected – remember that sarcasm is a form of irony, since you’re saying something but really intend the opposite of what those words would usually mean (which is why the tone of voice is vital for expressing sarcasm). A coincidence is just that: two events that coincided entirely by chance. If you find out that you and your friend went to the same kindergarten, that’s just a coincidence. If your English teacher constantly makes grammatical mistakes, for example using “comprise” instead of “compose”, that’s ironic, because it’s the opposite of what you would expect – namely for her to have a very solid grasp of the English language!
Farther or Further?
Lastly, we’ll look at “farther” and “further.” Again, sometimes these words are believed to be interchangeable but they do have specific usages. Farther is used in relation to physical distance – you can remember this because the word has “far” in it, which we all know is a word referring to distance. You would say “How much farther until we get there?” and not “How much further until we get there?” Further is used in a metaphorical sense, for instance: “I can not go on any further with this struggle.” If you’re walking, i.e., traveling a physical distance, and grow very tired, you would say “I can not go any farther.” Interestingly, a few hundred years ago the words were used interchangeably, but over time their meanings have drifted farther apart.