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Common errors in English usage - misspelled words list - daily 10 words - Part 7


There is no such word as "theirselves" (and you certainly can't spell it
"theirselfs" or "thierselves"); it's "themselves." And there is no
correct singular form of this non-word; instead of "theirself" use
"himself" or "herself."


Because the D and the T are blended into a single consonant when this
phrase is pronounced, many writers are unaware that the D is even
present and omit it in writing. See also "suppose to."


"Unique" singles out one of a kind. That "un" at the beginning is a form
of "one." A thing is unique (the only one of its kind) or it is not.
Something may be almost unique (there are very few like it), but
technically nothing is "very unique," though this expression is commonly
used to mean "highly unusual."


If you idly travel around, you wander. If you realize you're lost, you
wonder where you are.


"I just knowed you was here when I seed your truck outside." "You"
followed by "was" is nonstandard, and occurs in print mainly when the
writer is trying to make the speaker sound uneducated. The standard verb
to follow "you" is "were": "I knew you were here."


If you nuke your front lawn I suppose you might call it a "zeroscape,"
but the term for an arid-climate garden requiring little or no watering
is "xeriscape" (xeri- is a Greek root meaning "dry").


You can remember this one by remembering how to spell "accidental."
There are quite a few words with -ally suffixes (like "incidentally")
which are not to be confused with words that have "-ly" suffixes (like
"independently"). "Incidental" is a word, but "independental" is not.


To "back up" is an activity; "back up your computer regularly"; "back up
the truck to the garden plot and unload the compost."
A "backup" is a thing: "keep your backup copies in a safe place." Other
examples: a traffic backup, sewage backup, backup plan, backup forces.
Older writers often hyphenated this latter form ("back-up"), but this is
now rare.


"Canadian geese" would be any old geese that happen to be in Canada.
What people usually mean to refer to when they use this phrase is the
specific species properly called "Canada geese."


Any vowel in an unstressed position can sometimes have the sound
linguists call a "schwa:" "uh." The result is that many people tend to
guess when they hear this sound, but "definite" is definitely the right
spelling. Also common are various misspellings of "definitely,"
including the bizarre "defiantly."

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