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Common errors in English usage - misspelled words list - daily 10 words - Part 4


"Vary" means "to change." Don't substitute it for "very" in phrases like
"very nice" or "very happy."


In phrases beginning with "there" many people overlook the need to
choose a plural or singular form of the verb "to be" depending on what
follows. "There were several good-looking guys at the party" [plural];
"unfortunately one of them was my husband" [singular].


"You're" is always a contraction of "you are." If you've written
"you're," try substituting "you are." If it doesn't work, the word you
want is "your." Your writing will improve if you're careful about this.
If someone thanks you, write back "you're welcome" for "you are


People seldom mix "two" up with the other two; it obviously belongs with
words that also begin with TW, like "twice" and "twenty" that involve
the number 2. But the other two are confused all the time. Just remember
that the only meanings of "too" are "also" ("I want some ice cream too")
and "in excess" ("Your iPod is playing too loudly.") Note that extra O;.
it should remind you that this word has to do with adding more on to
something. "To" is the proper spelling for all the other uses.


When the weather is warm and summery and you don't feel like spending a
lot of time reading that long report from the restructuring committee,
just read the summary.


"Once" always has to do with time and answers the questions, "how many
times?" or "when?" For instance: "I only played handball once." "Once I
got my boot off, I saw my sock had a hole in it."
In contrast, "ones" have to do with things. In your tool collection, the
ones you should keep handy are the ones you use most.


Nobel laureates may indeed be intellectual nobility, but the award they
get is not the "Noble Prize" but the "Nobel Prize," named after founder
Alfred Nobel.


In the dialect of many Texans and some of their neighbors "pen" is
pronounced almost exactly like "pin." When speaking to an audience
outside this zone, it's worth learning to make the distinction to avoid


Although "layed" is an extremely popular variant spelling of the past
tense of transitive "lay," "laid" is the traditional spelling in all
contexts. If your boss decides to lay you off, you are laid off. The hen
laid an egg. You laid down the law.


It is traditional to use "most" when comparing three or more things and
"more" when comparing only two. "This is the more powerful of the two
vacuum cleaners." "This is the most delicious entree on the menu." In
casual speech this pattern is often ignored, but it's good to keep the
distinction in mind when writing or speaking formally.

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