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Common errors in English usage - misspelled words list - daily 10 words - Part 17


Since "Guess who" is a command rather than a real question, technically
it should not be followed by a question mark. A period or exclamation
point will do fine. Similarly, there should be no question mark after
the simple command "Guess!"


Heal is what you do when you get better. Your heel is the back part of
your foot. Achilles' heel was the only place the great warrior could be
wounded in such a way that the injury wouldn't heal. Thus any striking
weakness can be called an "Achilles' heel." To remember the meaning of
"heal," note that it is the beginning of the word "health."


"Internet" is the proper name of the network most people connect to, and
the word needs to be capitalized. However "intranet," a network confined
to a smaller group, is a generic term which does not deserve
capitalization. In advertising, we often read things like "unlimited
Internet, $35." It would be more accurate to refer in this sort of
context to "Internet access."


"Gist" means "essence," "main part." But expressions like "the gist of
it" are most often used in modern speech to more vaguely refer to the
general sense of a matter: "I didn't understand everything in the
chapter, but I got the gist of it." This broadened sense will offend few
people, but it's more of a problem if you replace this unusual word with
a more familiar one like "just" or "jest."


When you catch up with the runners ahead of you in a marathon, you
overtake them; but when you seize power, you take over the government.


If you are delivering newspapers from a bike you can pedal it around the
neighborhood (perhaps wearing "pedal-pushers"), but when you sell them
from a newsstand you peddle them.


The colloquial use of "leave" to mean "let" in phrases like "leave me
be" is not standard. "Leave me alone" is fine, though.


"Majorly," meaning "extremely" is slang and should not be used in formal
writing, or even speech if you want to impress someone. "Brad was
extremely [not 'majorly'] worried about the course final until he got
around to reading the syllabus and found out there wasn't one."


Although it used to be hyphenated on occasion as "now-a-days," this
expression is nowadays usually rendered as a single unhyphenated word.
Some folks mistakenly think the expression is "now and days," which
makes no sense.


An absurd superstition is an "old wives' tale": according to sexist
tradition a story popular among credulous old ladies. It's not an "old
wise tale" or--even worse--an "old wives' tail."

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