Top 10 Misused Words

Ok, so this post should really be called “Top 10 Sets of Misused Words That Annoy Me the Most.” (I had to put in the word set just in case my brother-in-law Joseph tells me that there are more than 10 words on this list.) But that was just too long. So, I’m not perfect. I suffer from the misuses of some words on occasion. I misuse words here and there. But it’s not very consistent. I really can’t stand getting an email from someone and repetitively seeing the same word misused over and over again. And, if you want to look up definitions, go visit So, without further ranting and raving, nah, that ain’t true (Wow! ‘ain’t’ is a word according to WordPress.), here are my pairs:

10. complementary/complimentary – So, I agree that this is a hard one. But first of all, I hate the phrase ‘complimentary gift.’ What is a gift? Something you didn’t have to pay for. What’s something that’s complimentary? A free item. Not a lot of difference. (We’ll see if my sister backs me up on this or totally embarrasses me.) But then when I see in a text book, “complimentary colors to blue include…” I want to scream. Well, either that or I want to say thing like “So what does orange say when it sees blue?” (No, I didn’t see it in a text book, but I have seen similar instances).

9. subconscious/unconscious/unconsciously – What? They don’t even start the same or are homophones or anything! But, alas, I was listening to a book on CD one day and the reader said, “Through his unconscious, he fingered the scar on his face.” Oh, really? I missed where the character fell asleep and started walking around like a zombie. Now, I may have misheard this. Oh, I hope I did. but seriously, even saying he unconsciously did something seems to imply that this person’s not awake. Yeah, unconsciously definition is a little complementary to the term subconscious. But still, subconsciously doesn’t make you sound less nerdy when you’re in a fantasy novel.

8. lose/loose – Ever get a text like this? “We’re going to loose! Our team sucks!” Well, yeah our team sucks, but what are we going to loose. A tie? A belt? Somebody’s wallet? Yes, we will loose his wallet so he can lose his money. That sounds like fun.

7. till/until/tell – Till refers to getting the dirt from the ground. Now ’til is a proper complementary slang word for until. So I can see the slight confusion between one and two ‘l’s. But, till vs. tell. It’s like going to a sporting event where not even the fans care who wins and being the only person who does. I have had far too many people write in an email “So, I won’t see you tell next week.” Isn’t this two sentences? “I won’t see you.” and “Tell next week.” I don’t know what we’re telling next week, but I guess it’s important.

6. economic/economical – I know most of the world didn’t go through business school. But, um….neither did my sister and she can properly use these, giving her absolute right to mock those that don’t. “It’s not an economic decision.” “Good, it shouldn’t be.” “What? I just don’t think that there’s any value to it.” “Oh, an economical decision….” “That’s what I said.” “Um…ok.”

5. accept/except – This is the first battle between a vs e. “I want to go to the movies, accept I can’t.” I love that there is no logic in that sentence. “I was excepted to Law School!” I really want to see someone text or email that and mean that Harvard has decided to permit this person onto its campus. Because my first thought would be, yep, they made sure you wouldn’t get in.

4. affect/effect – And the battle continues. Cause and EEEEffect. Sorry for the screeching there. It’s going to have an affect/effect on me. I promise, I struggle with this one. But I loved it when people would have me read papers in college and find this common error. I needed a lot of red for the big zit I wanted to give the word.

3. there/their/they’re – My brain works very fast. Sometimes, I don’t think. So when I type in ‘there’ and mean ‘their’ it’s because my unconscious took over…or was that my subconscious. Anyway, there is no way I’m going to forget their birthdays, they’re my children. USE IT WELL!

2. feel/fell – “I don’t fell like you should say that.” WHAT! You fell? Enough said.

1. than/then – Now, this is the one thing that I wish I could go back into elementary school and pop my brother’s friend who typed up my paper for me (since I had lousy, slow typing skills) on the head for. I had to go through that (pre-computer time) and put an ‘e’ over all ten ‘than’s that I had in my paper. Honestly. I was so annoyed that a fifth grader could use this better than an 12th grader. Now that I’ve received my degree I’ve learned one thing: Nobody was paying attention in English class….ever! Seriously, this aren’t that big of a deal. There is big difference and three letters between these words. (BTW, those three letters are b, c, and d, in case you’re wondering). I would rather jump off a cliff and then swim to shore than cross that shoddy bridge. Read it. Learn it. Live it.

Have a great weekend.


5 Responses

  1. You forgot me/I — that one really annoys the heck out of ME!

  2. Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it here in the Birmingham airport. I constantly have to correct reports and emails here at work. I might print and pass out your blog.

    Oh yeah – and I’m honored to be mentioned in your text. Thanks!

    • Yes, go ahead and print it out. Don’t think anyone would really read it but glad you enjoyed it and that you’re honored to be mentioned. Once someone comments on my post, they’re targets to be mentioned in them. Glad you had nothing else to do in the airport but read my blog. Must’ve been desperate.

  3. Hey, just want to let you know that I’ve noticed a few times in some of your posts that you have ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ misused. That happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves misused words so I kind of zoned in on those.

    • Yes, I am not immune to misused words. Now I have to go through each of my posts and find the mistakes and rid my blog of them. Yes, you’re and your is just as annoying. Normally, my brain is on autopilot and causes my fingers to type the first spelling it creates. And thanks for reading my blog.

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