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.