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Word Misuse and Grammar Cheat Sheet

Originally posted on RolePlayGateway.com as “Word Misuse and Grammar Cheat Sheet”, by Ylanne:


Word Misuse and Grammar Cheat Sheet
Ylanne S.

I’ve noticed certain common mistakes in roleplay posts both in chat and in forums. Here’s a cheat sheet to use to avoid some common mistakes! Memorize it and impress your teachers or professors, or your boss, in your written assignments offline as well. If you want to find a particular word, you can try to use CTL+F for PC or command+F for Mac.


Commonly Misused Words

Personnel is a noun referring to people. (Authorized personnel with photo ID only beyond this point.)
Personal is an adjective referring to perspective. (That’s personal information; how did you find out about the affair?)

Its is possession. (Its color was blue.)
It’s is a contraction for it is. (It’s a beautiful day outside.)

Warily means cautiously or with suspicion. (He watched the guards warily, not wanting to give away his position.)
Wearily means with exhaustion. (She sighed wearily. “I’m tired of this conversation.”)

Phased means happened gradually or in stages. (We phased out the older computers.)
Fazed means intimidated or disturbed. (I didn’t expect to be fazed by a meeting with a fourteen year old.)
Unfazed means not intimidated, or not disturbed. (He was unfazed by the interrogator’s scare tactics.)

Their is a possessive pronoun. (Their house had been built in the nineteenth century.)
They’re is a contraction for they are. (They’re thinking about filing a lawsuit.)
There is an adverb. (The receptionist sits over there.)

Than is a conjunction that indicates a comparison. (I was colder in that school than I had been on a visit to Antarctica.)
Then is an adverb that indicates time. (Five years passed without any action. Then, a bold Senator gave a stunning speech, collected over one million signatures on a petition, and re-filed the legislation.)

Who is the relative pronoun used as a subject―or nominative―and only with people. (Who is coming to the party?)
Whom is the relative pronoun used as an object―or any case other than nominative―and only with people. (To whom does this scarf belong?)
Which is the relative pronoun used for ideas. (The age in which we live is marked by a postmodernist relativism.)
That is the relative pronoun used for objects. (The house that Thomas Jefferson built is now a tourist destination.)

Effect as a verb means to cause or execute. (The dissension under the previous Board effected significant changes to the established policies.)
Affect as a verb means to influence. (Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do not let yourselves be affected by your preconceived notions about morality.)
Effect as a noun means a result. (Greater civil liberties were one effect of the government’s reforms.)
Affect as a noun means a feeling or emotional response. (Flat or nonresponsive affect is a characteristic of Autistic people.)

Accept is a verb meaning to receeve. (Please accept this tribute as a sign of peace.)
Except is a preposition that excludes. (They welcomed all immigrants except the Chinese.)

Complement means something that improves or adds. (The olive green napkins complemented the ivory tablecloths.)
Compliment means praise. (After his speech, Arun Gandhi received many compliments.)

Allusion means an indirect reference. (There are multiple Biblical allusions in Dante’s Divine Comedy.)
Illusion means misconception. (The Director’s openness gave the illusion of a willingness to share information, despite her reputation.)

Vice is an immoral behavior. (Despite her stellar reputation, she had many vices, not the least of which was compulsive gambling.)
Vise is a grasp. (He took Kara’s hand with a vise-like grip.)

To is a preposition. (I returned the necklace to my mother after finding it on the floor.)
Too is an adverb. (My daughter started crying; she wanted ice cream, too.)
Two is a number. (Under the American Constitution, there are two Senators from each state regardless of population.)

Capital is a city. (The capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh.)
Capitol is a building. (The U.S. Capitol houses the Senate and House chambers.)

Tortuous means twisted or curved. (The freshmen were easily disoriented by the tortuous hallways inside the science building.)
Torturous means painful. (She nearly died after the torturous beating at the hands of the secret police.)

Elicit is a verb meaning to evoke. (The interrogator’s shouting elicited a strong emotional response from the subject.)
Illicit is an adjective meaning illegal. (He was arrested on suspicion of illicit financial dealings with overseas associates.)

All together means everyone or everything at once. (The twenty of them joined all together for a group photo.)
Altogether means completely. (We reject extremism altogether and without any inhibitions whatsoever.)

Your is a possessive pronoun. (The prosecutor thinks that this was your weapon, Mr. Sanchez.)
You’re is a contraction meaning you are. (I don’t think you’re going anywhere anytime soon.)

Less indicates something uncountable. (Americans felt less secure after September 11.)
Fewer indicates something countable. (There were fewer men in the program after six weeks of grueling training than on the first day.)

Principle is a truth, virtue, or law. (The principle of honesty is one to which we ought to aspire in our daily lives.)
Principal is a person or sum of money. (The high school’s principal was fired after allegations of sexual misconduct.)

Disinterested means objective and lacking bias or prejudice. (The disputing parties sought a disinterested mediator to resolve their conflict.)
Uninterested means lacking interest or concern. (Students in Professor Binn’s class were almost always uninterested in his droning, monotonous lectures, and rarely recalled what he said more than a few hours later.)

Imminent means impending. (The trial was imminent, and already, Samuel was filled with anxiety.)
Immanent means indwelling or inherent, and usually refers to a deity. (God is both immanent and transcendent.)
Eminent means illustrious or prominent. (The eminent scholar of Islam, John Esposito, is scheduled to speak today.)

Nauseous means something that causes sickness. (The smell of excrement was nauseous.)
Nauseated means the state of feeling sick. (After conducting his first autopsy, Gibreel was thoroughly nauseated.)

Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to rest in place. (He liked to lie beneath the shady branches of the oak tree.)
Lay is a transitive verb meaning to place an object. (Please lay your shoes on the conveyor belt and step through the metal detector.)

Rise is an intransitive verb meaning to ascend. (According to some Christian traditions, believers will rise to heaven at Christ’s Second Coming.)
Raise is an intransitive verb meaning to lift an object. (Raise your hands and step out of the vehicle!)

Farther means distance. (Fatima had never lived farther than twenty miles away from home until she went abroad for college.)
Further indicates ideas. (Please describe your proposal further, using the additional attachment.)

Hangar is a place. (Please dock your ship in the hangar by the security station.)
Hanger is an object. (Put your clothes on the metal hangers.)

Ensure means to make certain. (His lobbying ensured that the bill would pass.)
Insure means to buy insurance. (Always insure a new car against damage or theft.)

Whose is a possessive pronoun. (That depends on whose papers were left on the table.)
Who’s is a contraction meaning who is. (Who’s coming to the party tonight? I don’t want to go alone.)

Foreword is the beginning of a book. (The foreword of my book is to be written by a prominent researcher.)
Forward is a direction. (Move the troops forward toward the hills!)

Discreet means circumspect. (The CIA typically handles its operations in a discreet manner.)
Discrete means having separate parts. (This molecule has four discrete parts.)

Common Misspellings

All right is the correct form. Alright is wrong.

Toward is the correct form. Towards is wrong.

A lot is the correct form. Alot is wrong.

Should have is the correct form. Should of is wrong.

Afterward is the correct form. Afterwards is wrong.

Anyway is the correct form. Anyways is wrong.

Okay is the correct form. OKOkok, and o-kay are wrong.

Punctuation

, the ellipse, indicates an omission of words, such as inside a quote.

―€•, the dash, which is the longer one, indicates a definition, literal or metaphorical. (The conversation€•interrogation, rather€•continued for hours.)

-€, the hyphen, which is the shorter one, is used to combine two or more words into one word. (The happy-go-lucky man died yesterday.)

:, the colon, indicates a list and must be immediately preceded by a noun. Do NOT use it to precede a quotation. (There were several people on the most wanted terrorists list: Usama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, among others.)

;, the semicolon, is used to join two or more independent clauses―preventing run-on sentences, or to separate multiple lists. (We had three major goals: identifying, labeling, and describing the problems; discussing, drafting, and proposing potential solutions; and pitching our proposal, explaining it to the Board, and convincing the Board of our ideas.)

( ) , parentheses, are used for side information that is interesting but irrelevant. (I’ve noticed that on the internet, people tend to use parentheses so liberally that the punctation mark has become ubiquitous in status updates on social networking sites, roleplay posts [tons of them, in fact], or even the middle of articles about grammar.)

[ ], brackets, are used for the author’s voice inside a quote, or an aside within parentheses. See above.

, the single quote mark, is used for quotes inside quotes. (“She said to me that I have strange ideas,” said Adam with a confused look.)

/, the slash, means and or. Do not ever, ever write and/or. That means and and or or.

Discussion

One comment for “Word Misuse and Grammar Cheat Sheet”

  1. While good grammer is always a good idea, during a game I know of no one who uses spell check.

    Posted by MethanP | October 11, 2011, 9:17 pm

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