Do you misuse or misspell these five words or phrases?

I ADMIT IT: English is a crazy language.

I found a list of Top 10 Misused English Words and discovered that I’m guilty of abusing several myself, including decimate, enormity, and ultimate. Who knew? (Apparently, not I!)

Five words people commonly misuse or misspell, including definitely, lose, and leery. So I come to you humbly to present a few more common words and expressions that are often misused or misspelled. See if you catch yourself doing any of these. If so, pick one or two to work on, making sure you teach your children to use them correctly, too!

1. Do you write pouring over?

Instead, write poring over. We pore over books, articles, advertisements, and data, but we pour juice, coffee, syrup, and cream.

Just don’t pour coffee over your books.

2. Do you write leary of?

Though leary appears to be a variant, leery is the standard and preferred spelling. I’m leery of Kim’s grammar advice.

Speaking of which…

3. Do advise and advice confuse you?

Advise is a verb that means to counsel, recommend, warn, or give advice.

Advice is a noun meaning an opinion or recommendation.

It’s common to see someone write, “Thanks for the good advise.” If you tend to make this mistake, may I advise you to take my advice and double-check your spelling?

4. Do you write definately?

This is a common misspelling of definitely. And you definitely want to spell this one correctly.

I know you do.

5. Do you write cirriculum?

When’s the last time you thought about your big toe? Unless you just had a pedicure, it’s probably been a while. But drop a can of tomatoes on that puppy, and ouch! Your toe will draw your attention all day long.

It’s like that with grammar and spelling errors, too. When we’re reading, we don’t really notice properly placed apostrophes and correctly spelled words—nor should we. But an apostrophe in the wrong spot or a simple misspelling can turn an article, menu, poster, or brochure into a throbbing toe.

Because I hang out in homeschooling circles, I often see the word cirriculum used on homeschool message boards, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’re guilty of dropping this brick on people’s toes, remember that ci makes a soft s sound (cigar, cinnamon), but cu makes a hard k sound (cube, curtain). My advice? Spell it correctly—curriculum. Your readers will thank you.

Wait. No, they won’t.

As a matter of fact, they won’t notice at all.

And that’s definately definitely a good thing.

Photo: Dan Lecher, courtesy of Creative Commons

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8 comments ↓

#1 Shannon on 03.15.12 at 10:49 pm

It would be nice if all words had only one definition like the top 10 list assumes.

I looked up enormity in three different online dictionaries, including Dictionary.com, Cambridge, and Oxford. Enormity also means greatness of size or scale.

Ultimate does mean being the best and most supreme of its kind.

Decimate does refer to killing or destroying a large portion of something.

So, rest assured, you, George Bush, and I were all correct.

#2 Kim on 03.16.12 at 6:22 am

Shannon: Thanks for doing that legwork. I’m happy to be in your good company. :)

#3 Janet on 03.18.12 at 5:40 am

I find I’m guilty of “pouring over” your blog, Kim!

#4 Kim on 03.21.12 at 5:08 pm

Cute, Janet!

#5 Umi on 03.23.12 at 3:31 am

Dear Kim,
I am an Indonesian working and living in Hong Kong. I love English very much, and I’m trying to improve my English level by reading any kind of materials that comes accross me. I love your site lots, it’s useful. Also, I bookmark it so that I can visit your web again any time I need some help especially my grammar.
Warm regards,
Umi

#6 Kim on 03.23.12 at 7:11 am

Good for you, Umi! I applaud you for continually learning and growing. Thank you for stopping by my blog; I’m so happy to know you’re finding helpful tips here.

#7 Ingi on 04.06.12 at 1:51 am

Definately – I definitely spell that one wrong (when I was a teacher, they had a “teachers spelling bee – it was the word I got, and yup, in front of 200 Year 7 kids, I spelled it wrong).

#8 Kim on 04.06.12 at 9:17 am

Too funny, Ingi! Bet you don’t get it wrong anymore!

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