Archive for September 2013

Words That Trip You Up

September 27, 2013

Dictionarywithpencilphotofile000224555511As a transcriber, my business is words. I must always be alert to using the right word, in the right context. It can be confusing because there are thousands of words in the English language.  To make things worse, some people habitually use words in the wrong way. Those same misused words trip you up in writing because, to the ears, the usage might sound fine. It is a habit, after all. But when you are writing, a word that is used incorrectly can diminish the quality of your writing.

Here are a few of the more confusing words that can trip you up in writing:

  • Irregardless – people are often quick to say it’s not a word, but it has been in use since about 1795. However, there is no reason to use it when writing because it is redundant.
  • It’s vs. Its – It’s is the contraction of it is. Its should be used to show possession as in the phrase “In its own time.”
  • Heighth – In some areas of the country people will add the –th sound to the word height and will add that extra –h in their writing. Even with spell check, it creeps into writing.
  • Respectfully, Respectively – respectfully means full of respect and is often used as the closing in business letters. Respectively, on the other hand, is used to indicate the order of things. For example, “the ballplayers picked up their first and second place trophies respectively.”
  • Stationary vs. Stationerystationary means to be at a standstill, fixed and unmoving. Stationery is the paper, note cards, etc. needed for writing.
  • Would of – Don’t use it in speech; don’t use it in writing. It’s wrong. Use would have instead.
  • Complement vs. ComplimentComplement means to finish or take care of a need; completion. Compliment means acknowledging that someone has done a task or activity well.
  • Affect vs. EffectA good way to distinguish between the two words is to remember that affect is a verb that causes something to happen and effect is a noun showing the result of an action.
  • Annihilate Completely a phrase that you might think makes your writing sounds good, but it is redundant.

The English language is fascinating and challenging. These are just a few of the words that can trip you up and will really have a detrimental effect on your writing when used incorrectly. Fortunately, there are many books available that will help you keep your writing error free. Also consider investing in grammar software. Enlist the aid of a proof reader. Use the tools available and you will rarely go wrong.


“Convert your words into documents.”