English words that are often used improperly

, Education

Many think they know the English language perfectly, but in fact even native speakers make mistakes. The following errors are most ordinary nowadays.

Accept – Except
The two words sound alike, but have different meanings. To accept is same as to receive or to get something. On the other hand, except means “but” or “beside”.

His mom accepted his explanation.
I can attend every meeting except the one next week.

Affect – Effect
To affect someone means to influence someone or something, while effect is used when someone achieved something or someone had an effect on something.

Your job was affected by the organizational restructuring.
These changes will be effected on Monday.
The sunny weather had a huge effect on sales.
The patient’s affect was flat.

Lie – Lay
We know that lie means untruth, but the word can also mean going to bed.

Why don’t you lie down and rest?
On the other hand, lay needs a subject: Lay the book on the table. In past tense, lie becomes lay.

I lay down for an hour last night.
The past form of lay is laid: I laid the book on the table.

Bring – Take
Both words describe carrying something or someone from one place to another, but we use bring when someone brings someone to you while take is used when you bring something to someone.

Bring me the mail, then take your shoes to your room.
Ironic – Coincidental
If you break a leg a day before you go skiing, that’s not ironic, but coincidental (and bad luck). Ironic has more meanings and all of the involve something completely reverse or unexpected.

If you break your leg the day before a ski trip, that’s coincidental. If you drive up to the mountains to ski, and there was more snow back at your house, that’s ironic.

Imply – Infer
Imply is used when we are offering something without saying it directly. To infer means to make a conclusion from the imposed or indicated.

Nauseous – Nauseated
Nauseous is used for anything that causes nausea, while nauseated means to experience nausea.

Comprise – Compose
To comprise means to engage, while to compose means to create.

A soccer game comprises two halves.
Fifty states compose the United States of America.

Farther – Further
Farther refers to a physical distance, while further is used to explain the degree or level of action or situation.

I can’t run any farther.
I have nothing further to say.

Fewer – Less
Use fewer when you refer to specific things that can be counted, and less when you refer to a whole: You have fewer dollars, but less money.