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Common errors in English usage - misspelled words list - daily 10 words - Part 5


You can adopt a child or a custom or a law; in all of these cases you
are making the object of the adoption your own, accepting it. If you
adapt something, however, you are changing it to be more apt for some


As an adverb, either word will do: "put the shirt on backward" or "put
the shirt on backwards." However, as an adjective, only "backward" will
do: "a backward glance." When in doubt, use "backward."


Just what would a "costumer service" do? Supply extra-shiny spangles for
a Broadway diva's outfit? But this phrase is almost always a
typographical error for "customer service," and it appears on an
enormous number of Web pages. Be careful not to swap the U and O when
you type "customer."


You defuse a dangerous situation by treating it like a bomb and removing
its fuse; to diffuse, in contrast, is to spread something out: "Bob's
cheap cologne diffused throughout the room, wrecking the wine-tasting."


The expression "enjoy to" (or "enjoyed to") is nonstandard, influenced
by "like to." You don't enjoy to jog; you either enjoy jogging or like
to jog.


When you send your daughter off to camp, you hope she'll fare well.
That's why you bid her a fond farewell. When you want to see how
something will work out, you want to see how it fares. "Fair" as a verb
is a rare word meaning "to smooth a surface to prepare it for being
joined to another."


it's amazing how many people write to thank me for helping them with
their "grammer." It's "grammar." The word is often incorrectly used to
label patterns of spelling and usage that have nothing to do with the
structure of language, the proper subject of grammar in the most
conservative sense. Not all bad writing is due to bad grammar.


Heroin is a highly addictive opium derivative; the main female character
in a narrative is a heroine.


"In fact" is always two words.


If you want to refer to your former husband, don't call him your "late
husband" unless he's dead.

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