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I prefer to call myself a “grammar enthusiast” vs. a “grammar Nazi” – though not Jewish myself, I always think of a Nazi warily.  I am quite aware of the rules of grammar and speech, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when people speak and spell incorrectly, confusing me with their meaning: No, you did not “go to the bar to”.  What did you go to the bar to do?  You went to the bar ALSO, as in too.  Got that?

Tirade over (but know I judge you), I was thrilled to figuratively stumble over The 32 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases listed on the Help! Educational blog, touting “Learning is a Lifestyle”.  I know I’m not perfect (though I must say my Mom is typically the only one who can ever correct me!) and you’re likely not perfect either so the list below is a good thing to review, as you never know the next time you’ll be asked to know the difference between less & few, further & farther. In light of full disclosure I will admit to having used discreet/discrete incorrectly in the past, ew. Enjoy!

1.Accept/Except- Although these two words sound alike (they’re homophones), they have two completely different meanings. “Accept” means to willingly receive something (accept a present.) “Except” means to exclude something (I’ll take all of the books except the one with the red cover.)

2. Affect/Effect- The way you “affect” someone can have an “effect” on them. “Affect” is usually a verb and “Effect” is a noun.

3. Alright- If you use “alright,” go to the chalkboard and write “Alright is not a word” 100 times.

4. Capital/Capitol- “Capitol” generally refers to an official building. “Capital” can mean the city which serves as a seat of government or money or property owned by a company. “Capital” can also mean “punishable by death.”

5. Complement/Compliment- I often must compliment my wife on how her love for cooking perfectly complements my love for grocery shopping.

6. Comprise/Compose- The article I’m composing comprises 32 parts.

7. Could Of- Of the 32 mistakes on this list, this is the one that bothers me most. It’s “could have” not “could of.” When you hear people talking, they’re saying “could’ve.” Got it?

8. Desert/Dessert- A desert is a hot, dry patch of sand. Dessert, on the other hand, is the sweet, fatty substance you eat at the end of your meal.

9. Discreet/Discrete- We can break people into two discrete (separate) groups, the discreet (secretive) and indiscreet.

10. Emigrate/Immigrate- If I leave this country to move to Europe, the leaving is emigrating and the arriving is immigrating.

11. Elicit/Illicit- Some people post illicit things on message boards to elicit outrageous reactions from others.

12. Farther/Further- Farther is used for physical distance, whereas further means to a greater degree.

13. Fewer/Less- Use fewer when referring to something that can be counted one-by-one. Use less when it’s something that doesn’t lend itself to a simple numeric amount.

14. Flair/Flare- A flair is a talent, while a flare is a burst (of anger, fire, etc.)

15. i.e/e.g- I.e. is used to say “in other words.” E.g. is used in place of “for example.”

16. Inflammable- Don’t let the prefix confuse you, if something is inflammable it can catch on fire.

17. It’s/Its- It’s= it is. Its=a possessive pronoun meaning of it or belonging to. Whatever you do, please don’t use its’.

18. Imply/Infer- A reader infers what an author implies. In other words, when you imply something, you hint at it. When you infer something, you draw a conclusion based on clues.

19. Literally- If you say “His head literally exploded because he was so mad!” then we should see brains splattered on the ceiling.

20. Lose/Loose- If your pants are too loose you may lose them. That would be almost as embarrassing as misusing these two words.

21. Moral/Morale- Morals are something you want to teach your kids. If your team’s morale is low, you need to do something to boost their confidence.

22. Percent/Percentage- The word “percent” should only be used when a specific number is given. “Percentage” is more of a general term.

23. Stationary/Stationery- You are stationary when you aren’t moving. Stationery is something you write on.

24. Then/Than- “Then” is another word for “after.” Incidentally, the word “then” makes for boring writing. “Than” is a comparative word (e.g. I am smarter than you).

25. There/Their/They’re- There are few things as frustrating as when I look at my students’ writing and they’re misusing these words in their writing.

26. Unique- Something can’t be “kind of unique” or even “very unique.” It’s either one-of-a-kind or it isn’t. There is no in between when it comes to unique.

27. Your/You’re- If I had a nickel for every time I saw this one… yeah, you know the rest. “Your” shows ownership and you’re is a contraction meaning “you are.” Get it right.

28. To/Too/Two- Two is a number. “To” is used in instances such as, “I am going to the store.” If you are supposed to use the word “too,” try inserting the word “extra” or “also.” If one of those fits, you need to also add the extra “o” to make “too.”

29. Lie/Lay- After you lay the books on the table, go lie down on the couch.

30. Sit/Set- Set your drink on the table and sit in your chair. Got it?

31. Whose/Who’s- Whose is the possessive form of who. Who’s is a contraction meaning “who is.”

32. Allude/Elude- When someone alludes to something in conversation (indirectly references), if you aren’t paying attention the meaning may elude you (escape you).

Which misused words drive you crazy? Share them in the replies.

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…for my digital “NovelWhore”  life at least!  I’ve updated “About: NovelWhore” and added “To Avoid List: Chicago” – please comment and share thoughts/criticisms/input.  “To-Do List: NYC” coming soon!

It’s not even 9am and I already feel as if I’ve had a full day, probably because I’ve already:

  • Drank four cups of coffee
  • Digested a muffin, bagel, and half a watermelon
  • Met with and been inspired by Author Solutions!

Needless to say I could already use a nap; my 5:30am alarm did nothing for my beauty sleep, but right now I’m too excited!  Not knowing much about  self publishing companies, I was thrilled to discover a free Chicago event on LinkedIn put on by Author Solutions.   I invited my successful self-publishing author friend Scott E. Smith of the award-winning title Like Dizzy Gillespie’s Cheeks to attend with me and off we went, to what proved to be an inspirational and enlightening discussion of the publishing business.

Though the intended speaker from Author Solutions failed to show (probably contributing to the non-sales pitch feel of the meeting), Sandy Powell and Scott Walters from the Business Development team were available for questions and discussion.  It’s always interesting to learn about a new segment of the career I’m aspiring towards, and Powell and Walters both had experience and opinions to share.  In a nutshell: Publishing has not reached its end, books are not going to die, what will inevitably happen is a necessary shift in the business model.

There are many options available for a revised publishing business model.  Among the factors are changes in author’s payment (maybe less advance and higher royalties?), fewer print runs (more print on demand vs. warehouse space) or even the big publishing houses starting an imprint for self publishing; a lower risk way to test new authors to see if the titles catch on, with less impact on the already-stressed finances.

Of course, social media and personal interaction is never to be overlooked, as a new article on “Mashable” looks at traditional books in two new mediums in “5 Ways Traditional Media is Going Social“.

Unlike VHS tapes, book publishing continues to evolve and have space and opportunity for advancement.  I look forward to seeing some of these changes implemented in the influential hallways of Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins and I can’t wait to be an active participant.

Please share any additional thoughts/insight on new publishing opportunities!  And for all you aspiring writers out there, take a look at what the Author Solutions portfolio has to offer, I think you may be pleasantly surprised…

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