Word Choice Errors

Many times, writers make a word choice error when choosing a word that sounds exactly like another word with a different meaning (homonym). Other times, word choice errors are made because the spoken word or phrase is mispronounced and sounds similar to another word or phrase with a different meaning (EX: “might of” instead of “might have”).  Make sure you’re not making a wrong word choice by checking this list of commonly misused words:

Accept vs. Except

  • “Accept” means “to agree, assent or acknowledge.”  EX: I accepted the offer for a higher position in the company.
  • However, “except” means “to leave or take out; to omit.” EX: Everyone is going, except my sister.

Affect vs. Effect

  • “Affect” means “to change or alter,” and it is commonly used as a verb. EX: That movie really affected me.
  • “Effect” means “a consequence, result, or outcome,” and it is commonly used as a noun.  EX: The effect of over-eating is often weight gain.

Apart vs. A  Part

  • “Apart,” when written as one word, means “separate from.”  EX: We lived apart for two years.
  • However, “a part,” when written as two words, means you’re a member of something larger than yourself, as in a member of a group, party, or movement.  EX: Our family restaurant is a part of our local better business bureau.

Choose vs. Chose

  • “Choose” is the present tense form of the verb.  EX: Today I choose to stay home. 
  • “Chose” is the past tense form of the verb.  EX: Yesterday I chose to go to school.

Definitely vs. Defiantly

  • These two words sound similar, but “definitely” means “for sure” or “most certainly.”  EX: I definitely want to see that movie.
  • On the other hand, “defiantly” means “to boldly oppose or resist something or someone.”  EX: She stated her viewpoint defiantly and refused to budge on the issue.

It's vs. Its

  • “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.” EX: It’s too late to take a walk.
  • “Its” is a possessive pronoun, so it shows ownership of another noun.  EX: The dog wagged its tail.

Later vs. Latter

  • “Later” usually refers to a future time frame.  EX: I will do my homework later.
  • However, “latter” means “latest or last” or “the second of two mentioned persons or things.”  EX: She offered me tea or coffee, and I chose the latter (meaning that I chose coffee).

Than vs. Then

  • “Then” is a word that is used to show a sequence of events or a cause/effect relationship. EX: We went shopping, and then we came home.  OR If you do your homework now, then you can enjoy the weekend.
  • However, “than” is a word that is used to show a comparison between two things. EX: I am taller than my sister.

There vs. Their

  • “There” is used as a place-holder or a directional word. EX: There are no more cookies. OR I found the cookies over there.
  • However, “their” is a possessive pronoun, which is almost always followed by the noun that it shows ownership of. EX: Their cookies were stolen.

To vs. Too vs. Two

  • “To” is a preposition, which is generally followed by a noun or noun phrase.  EX: I walked to the park.  “To” can also be used in an infinitive phrase, where it is followed by a verb.  EX: To walk in a park is my favorite pastime.
  • “Too” is an adverb that means “also.” EX: I walked to the park too.
  • “Two” is a number.  EX: I was so hungry that I ate two tacos.

Weather vs. Whether

  • “Weather” refers to the precipitation that occurs outside.  EX: The weather was quite stormy yesterday. 
  • However, “whether” is a word used to introduce alternative possibilities. EX: Whether we win or lose, we must play the game fairly.

Where vs. Were

Even though “where” and “were” look alike, they are pronounced differently.

  • “Where” is a question word that refers to a place or location.  EX: Where is my textbook? 
  • On the other hand, “were” is a linking/helping verb in the past tense.  EX: We were going to come to the party, but we were delayed.

Your vs. You're

  • “Your” is a possessive pronoun, so it will usually be followed by anothernoun (the person, place, or thing it shows ownership of).  EX: Your houselooks beautiful. 
  • On the other hand, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are.”  Always double check to see if you’re using this word correctly by splitting it apart.  EX: You’re using it correctly = You are using it correctly.