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Old 12-01-2012, 10:08 PM   #51
_Lynn_
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adequate; sufficient; enough

Adequate refers to the suitability of something in a particular circumstance [an adequate explanation].

Sufficient refers to an amount of material (always with a mass noun) [sufficient water] [sufficient information].

Enough modifies both count nouns [enough people] and mass nouns [enough oil].
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #52
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Troubles in the E section:

economic/economical ("economic" is the science; "economical" is the practice)

efficacy/efficiency ("efficacy" is the power to produce effects; "efficiency" is how fast the effects can be produced)

element/factor/phase (an "element" is a principal part of a whole; "factor" is an agent that contributes to a result; "phase" is one stage in the development of something)

ensure/assure/insure ("ensure" makes certain; "assure" gives confidence; "insure" is for insurance policies

expect (does not mean suppose, imagine or suspect. Wrong: "I expect I'll hear from her soon" unless he has more than a suspicion that it's true.)
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:09 AM   #53
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farther; further

The traditional distinction is to use farther for a physical distance [we drove farther north to see autumn foliage] and further for a figurative distance [let's examine this further] [look no further].


hangar; hanger

One finds hangars at an airport [airplane hangars]. everywhere else, one finds hangers [clothes hangers] [picture hangers].
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:14 PM   #54
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Troubles in the F section:

farther/further (dealt with by MisstressLynn above)

fewer/less (This is a common mistake in Lit. stories--and elsewhere. "Fewer" is for objects you can count and is used with a plural noun; "less" refers to degree, quantity, and amount and goes with a singular noun)

firstly, secondly, etc. (use first, second, etc. instead)

flaunt/flout ("flaunt" is to wave or make a boastful display; "flout" is to scoff at or treat with contempt)

forego/forgo ("forego" is to go before; "forgo" is to to abstain from)

foreword/forward ("foreword" is a preface to a written work; "forward" means at, near, or belonging to the front or bold or presumptuous)
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:23 PM   #55
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Troubles in the G and H sections:

get (should not be used to mean be, be able to, may, come, or become)

graduated/was graduated (both are proper in certain constructions, but whereas "My son was graduated from Podunk U. finally" is correct, "My son graduated Podunk U. finally" isn't correct).

healthy/healthful ("healthy" means posessed of wellness; "healthful" means wellness giving)

historic/historical ("historic" means important in the framework of the past [historic monument]; "historical" concerns something that happened in the past). And, not to duck the question of using "a" or "an," this became muddled because at one time the "h" wasn't pronounced, so "an" was correct. Now it is pronounced more than not, so "a" is more common. You can use either and just thumb your nose at the objectors, if you wish--but be consistent.)

hopefully (does not mean "I hope"--which is how most are using it: WRONG: "Hopefully Ned will fall down the stairs the next time he goes on a drinking binge." Purists hold that "hopefully" means "in a hopeful manner." Those who want to use it technically wrong, though, have hope, as this use is gaining acceptance no matter what the purists say. Just be prepared that if a nitpicker picks on you for doing it, as of now, they are more technically correct that you are.)

hypocritical/hypercritical ("hypocritical" ["hip"] means deceitful; "hypercritical" ["hi"] means excessively critical)
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:27 PM   #56
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A good resource on problem words and expressions:

Although I've only been using this for backup thus far in my entries on troublesome expressions, here's a good book resource to use, if you can find it. It's only rarely available now:

Harry Shaw, Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions (McGraw-Hill, 1987--originally published 1976).
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:44 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
I stand by the link I posted above :-)
I think that writer was being slightly sarcastic.
Lynn's right; it is two words.

[PS. And I truly hate 'text speak'. It's a waste of time reading it. ]
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:44 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Handley_Page View Post
I think that writer was being slightly sarcastic.
Lynn's right; it is two words.
Yes, thanks, I'm well aware of that.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:19 PM   #59
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unique

Reserve this word for the sense "one of a kind." Avoid it in the sense "special, unusual." Phrases such as very unique, more unique, somewhat unique, and so on—in which a degree is attributed to unique—are poor usage.
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:23 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistressLynn View Post
unique

Reserve this word for the sense "one of a kind." Avoid it in the sense "special, unusual." Phrases such as very unique, more unique, somewhat unique, and so on—in which a degree is attributed to unique—are poor usage.
Right. I encounter "very unique" on occasion in edits. And I particularly enjoy "somewhat unique," which I equate with "somewhat pregnant."
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:51 PM   #61
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Troubles in the I section:

i.e./e.g. (first, these abbreviations shouldn't be used in fiction text, unless a character uses them in dialogue. "I.e" means "that is"; "e.g." means "for example." Beyond that, writers frequently use the wrong one, but if they think each time what each one means, they'll misuse them less.)

if/whether ("if" too often is used when "whether" is preferable. "Whether" is preferable to "if" when alternatives are involved, as in "I don't know whether to cry or spit.")

illicit/elicit ("illicit" means "unlawful"; "elicit" means "to bring out")

illiterate/ignorant ("illiterate" means unable to read; "ignorant" means unable to understand what is read or heard)

imaginary/imaginative ("imaginary" means "not real"; "imaginative" applies to someone who can form mental images of what is not actually present to the senses.)

immanent/imminent/eminent ("immanent" is a rarely used word meaning "remaining within"; "imminent" means "impending"; "eminent" means "distinguished")

incredible/incredulous ("incredible" means unbelievable; "incredulous" means skeptical)

infer/imply/insinuate ("imply" means to suggest--in your own words; "infer" means to assume, deduce, or arrive at a conclusion. You infer from something someone else has said or done; "insinuate" is to hint slyly, subtly, and/or deviously)

inapt/inept/unapt ("inapt" and "inept" both mean "not fitting." The difference in the two can best be seen in their antonyms: "capable" for "inapt" and "suited" for "inept"; "unapt" means "not likely")

incidentally/incidently (meaning "happening in connection with something else." The point is that "incidently" is now considered an illiteracy.)

incredible/incredulous ("incredible" means "unbelievable"; "incredulous" means "skeptical")

interstate/intrastate ("interstate" means between states; "intrastate" means within a state)

it's/its (encountered frequently on Literotica, although mostly as a typo of something the writer does understand the difference of. "it's" means "it is"; its is a possessive pronoun. This problem arises because it is a reversal with most possessive constructs. Whereas most possessives are signaled with an apostrophe, possessive pronouns never take an apostrophe)
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:06 PM   #62
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lose; loose, vb.; loosen

To lose something is to be deprived of it.

To loose something is to release it from fastenings or restraints.

To loosen is to make less tight or to ease a restraint.

Loose conveys the idea of complete release, whereas loosen refers to only a partial release.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:21 PM   #63
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Might I add my two-cents worth? Reading good work helps write good work. I also recommend using the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary. It's worth is in have usage in addition to spelling. My Mac's RTF software has a built-in dictionary, of course, but usage makes the difference, I think.

A style guide is hard to pin down. There are several. My suggestion is to pick one and stick with it at least over the course of one complete.

The last best suggestion is to get a good proofreader. I, for one, am horrible at proofing my own work.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:07 PM   #64
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Troubles in the J section:

join together (despite the marriage vows ritual, this is redundant. "Join" has already said it all)

judicial/judicious (they both mean "related to judgment," but "judicial" is restricted to uses in the law, whereas "judicious" goes beyond the law and can be wise and balanced judgment on other issues in the meaning of "discreet," "prudent," or "expedient.")

jurist/judge (these often are used interchangeably. They don't mean the same thing, though. A "jurist" is someone acquainted with the law. It could be a lawyer or a law professor. A "judge" is an authorized official to hear and determine cases.

Troubles in the K section:

kith and kin (the problem with this tired phrase is when the separate words are used to mean the same thing. They don't. "Kith" are friends, neighbors, and the like. "Kin" are relatives.)

kudos (this is not a plural word. There is no "kudo" word. "Kudos" is from the Greek, meaning "glory." We only give it a plural verb because readers will think it's wrong if we don't. It's not technically wrong if you give it a singular word--it will just be disconcerting to most readers.)
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:18 PM   #65
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Backing up to Troubles in the D section:

discreet/discrete ("discreet" means "showing/having discernment or good judgment; "discrete: means "constituting a separate entity." What might help cause a mixup for some is that "discretion" is the noun for "discreet," not "discrete")
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:30 PM   #66
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Troubles in the L section:

last/latest ("last" means after all others; "latest" means most recent)

later/latter ("later" means after some other point in time; "latter" means the second of two previously mentioned persons or things)

lay/lie ("lay" [lay, laid, laid. laying] means to put or to place; "lie" means to recline, rest [lie, lay, lain, lying])

lead/led ("led" is the past tense of "lead." This frequently doesn't happen correctly in text)

leastways/leastwise (these are dialect, not really to be used except in dialogue or when the narrator is using dialect)

less/fewer ("less" refers to degree, quantity, or amount; "fewer" is for objects you can count)

libel/slander (both mean "defamation," but "libel" is for written defamation and slander for vocal defamation)

lightening/lightning ("lightening" means lessening the weight of; "lightning" is that bolt from the sky. Too often in writing, the "n" is included when the bolt from the sky is intended)

like/as/as if ("like" should not introuce a subject and a verb [WRONG: "He acted like he had never heard of her"; CORRECT: "He acted as if he had never heard of her"]. "Like" is correctly used as a preposition, as in: "We need a person like you.")

loan/lend (once "loan" was a noun and "lend" was the verb, but usage now permits "loan" to be a verb too)

luxuriant/luxurious ("luxuriant" means superabundant in growth; "luxurious" means costly indulgence in pleasures of the sense.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:03 PM   #67
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Troubles in the M section:

marital/martial ("marital" pertains to marriage; "martial" pertains to war. Sometimes they act together)

masterly/masterful (both imply having the skill or art of a master, but "masterly" usually is restricted to a meaning of "skillful," whereas "masterful" suggest authority, dominance, and force.

material/materiel ("material" means "matter," "substance," or "constitutent element"; "materiel" is usually restricted to equipment and supplies, usually in the military sense.

maybe/may be ("maybe" is an adverb meaning "possibly"; "may be" is a verb phrase, two words that express possibility or likelihood)

meantime/meanwhile (both can be classified as a noun or an adverb, but "meantime" is more often used as a noun and "meanwhile" as an adverb)

medium/media ("media" is the plural of "medium." Both refer to an agencies of the release of information, such as radio, TV, newspapers, blogs. But "medium" is used when just one of these agencies is meant and "media" when more than one of them is meant)

minimal/minimum ("minimal" is an adjective meaning "smallest," "least possible"; "minimum" is primarily a noun meaning "the least amount possible or required")

moral/morale ("moral" is concerned with the goodness or badness of human action or character; "morale" refers to the state of spirits of a person or group)
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:17 PM   #68
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Hell...

I think I'm just going to print out this entire post; great stuff...thanks.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:44 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
medium/media ("media" is the plural of "medium." Both refer to an agencies of the release of information, such as radio, TV, newspapers, blogs. But "medium" is used when just one of these agencies is meant and "media" when more than one of them is meant)
There is a quirky exception to this: if your medium is a psychic who acts as a conduit to the spirit world, "mediums" is the preferred plural, at least according to M-W. AFAIK this one started out as a subcase of the usage you describe above, but at some point it seems to have struck out on its own and acquired an English plural form.

"Medium" can also show up as a nouned adjective, and in that case it also seems to take the -s plural:
M-W gives "These shirts are all mediums and I take a large".
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #70
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Well, yes, but those are other meanings of "medium" that have no relationship to "media," which was the relationship of the "troubled expression."
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:29 PM   #71
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Quote:
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Well, yes, but those are other meanings of "medium" that have no relationship to "media," which was the relationship of the "troubled expression."
Agreed on the T-shirt example, but not on the other.

Your context was "agencies of the release of information", and that's exactly what a psychic medium is* and why they're called a "medium". Radio is a "medium" because it conveys information from the speaker to a listener; Madame Swarovski is a "medium" because she conveys information from the ghost of Rich Uncle Henry to his family.

*insert "supposedly" throughout; I'm a skeptic on such matters, although they can make for interesting fiction.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:34 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
Agreed on the T-shirt example, but not on the other.

Your context was "agencies of the release of information", and that's exactly what a psychic medium is* and why they're called a "medium". Radio is a "medium" because it conveys information from the speaker to a listener; Madame Swarovski is a "medium" because she conveys information from the ghost of Rich Uncle Henry to his family.

*insert "supposedly" throughout; I'm a skeptic on such matters, although they can make for interesting fiction.
You're right. We totally disagree on a psychic medium fitting in this mix.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:59 PM   #73
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while

While may substitute for although or whereas, especially if a conversational tone is desired [while many readers may disagree, the scientific community has overwhelmingly adopted the conclusions here presented]. Yet because while can denote either time or contrast, the word is occasionally ambiguous; when a real ambiguity exists, although or whereas is the better choice.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:40 AM   #74
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A lost cause?

So does anyone worry about affect/effect any more? Or has a generation of schoolteachers confusing students about their difference driven effect as a verb out of use? I can't remember the last time I've seen or heard that word used; it appears to have been replaced by "impact".
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:12 PM   #75
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Yes, affect/effect are still alive and kicking--and misused about a quarter of the time.
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