Of all Alf’s lessons, the one thing that I refer to all the time is his “List of Words That Make Me Crazy.” Maybe it will help you as you write/edit/revise. (I’m listing these in the order that I can remember them…not like I saved some random scrap of paper for almost a decade.)
- Kid/Child: A kid is a goat. A child is a human.
- That: You can remove 90 percent of the ‘that’ in your writing. People are never ‘that.’
- Its/It’s: The first is possessive (something belongs to it) and the second is a conjunction of the words it and is. (I mess this one up all the time…mostly because I’m typing too quickly)
- Than/Then: Than is used for comparisons (i.e. rather than). Then refers to the timing of an event.
- Beach Speech: Dude, just, like, no way, and really can be used sparingly and in dialogue.
- Anyway: Even though people misuse it in dialogue (i.e. “Anyways, we went”) it should never be plural.
- Used to/Supposed to: Do not omit the ‘d.’
- For all intents and purposes: This one actually makes me crazy. The phrase is not ‘for all intensive purposes.’
- Precede/Proceed: Something precedes if it comes first. Use proceeds if it follows.
- Elicit/Illicit: Elicit is a verb meaning ‘to invoke.’ Illicit means that something is unlawful (or naughty…I like to use the word illicit 🙂
What words or phrases make you crazy, whether incorrectly used or overused? Help refresh my memory and make a bigger list!
P.S. It’s totally awesome that I did a post on misused words when the Blogger Spell Check feature isn’t working.