exasperate vs exacerbate

ComputerManArrowsandQuestionsBoth of these words are rather difficult to pronounce, and they mean different things.

* exasperate is often used as an adjective “exasperated” as well as a verb “exasperate”, where it means to “irritate”. If someone is exasperated, they are irritated by someone or something.

* exacerbate is a verb that means to make a situation worse.

Credit for these “Common Errors in English” to the Common Errors in English blog and calendar.

If you still get confused with English grammar and usage, please contact us, the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help!

Conjunctions: It’s All About Joining

School_House_Rock!“Conjunction.” One of my favorite words. As most of remember from grammar or primary school, a conjunction is a word that connects parts of a sentence. However, did you know there are several different types of conjunctions?

The original type of conjunction that we were all taught is called a “coordinating conjunction”: and, but, or, yet, for, nor, so. When these coordinating conjunctions connect two independent clauses (those that can stand alone with full meaning), they are usually (but not always) preceded by a comma.

  • My new puppy likes to eat, but his stomach is so small he can only eat a little at a time.

The next type of conjunction is called a “subordinating conjunction” which begins a dependent clause-a clause that depends on the rest of the sentence to derive its meaning. Well-known subordinating conjunctions (which can also be used as prepositions) include: after, as, if only, though, unless, whereas, even though, than, that, in order that.

Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs in sentences, joining sentence elements that are not right next to each other: both…and, neither…nor, whether…or, not only…but also, either…or.

  • “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
  • “Whether you win the race or lose it, what matters most is that you tried.”

Now that you have learned about all kinds of conjunctions, it’s time for a 1970s flashback, enjoy “Conjunction Junction” by School House Rock!

Pique, Peek, or Peak?

ComputerManArrowsandQuestionsThe word “pique” comes from the French and means to “excite”, as in to “pique one’s interest” [in something].

Use “peek” when sneaking a look at something.

When you arrive at the “peak” of something, you are at the top or uppermost point.

Still confused by the meanings of similar words in the English language? Let the professionals at Writing It Right For You help you out! Contact us today!

Affect or Effect?

Affect and effect are two of the most-often confused words in the English language. The simple rule is:
* affect spelled with an “a” is usually a verb that shows some kind of action. The simple definition of affect is “to influence” or “to make happen”. How will eating chocolate cake for every meal affect my weight?
* effect spelled with an “e” is usually a noun that names something. The simple definition of effect is “a result”. The effect of my choice of chocolate cake for every meal was a big change in my weight.

The two words seem to sound alike, but actually there is a slight difference in pronunciation between “uh-fect” (affect) and “eh-fect” (effect).

Use the verb affect when you are describing how one thing has an impact upon another thing.

Use the noun effect when you are showing the result of an action or feeling.

Since this is the English language we’re talking about, there are some exceptions to this grammar rule. In psychology, affect can be used differently; and effect can sometimes be use as a verb.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Daily Grammar Tip: cowered vs coward

25483010_sThe verb “cower” means to crouch down in fear, and “cowered” is the past tense of cower. A “coward” is a fearful or weak person; the word is a noun. Therefore, cowered (with a Nordic root) and coward (with a French root) may sound similar, and they may even have similar connotations, but they are different and should not be confused in your writing.

Credit: Common Errors in English Usage

If you would like the professionals at Writing It Right For You to assist you with your writing and editing projects and the very confusing English language, contact us!

Happy Spring! Is it an equinox or a solstice?

Question Person

Happy Spring Equinox! It’s the official first day of spring, FINALLY!

We are re-publishing this post to celebrate the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

Here is another word pair that is often misused or misunderstood. Both words define the annual path of the Sun.


Revolving earth at winter solstice on the nort...
Revolving earth at winter solstice on the northern hemisphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“equinox”: there are two sets of days of the year when the Sun crosses the equator and the length of the day and the night are equal (hence, “equinox”). The vernal equinox is in the spring about March 20-21, and the autumnal equinox occurs in the fall (autumn) around September 22-23. These dates are for the northern hemisphere, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are reversed in the southern hemisphere. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin equinoxium, which translates to “equality between day and night”.

“solstice”: the solstice also occurs twice a year–once when the Sun is at its northernmost point (at the Tropic of Cancer) and again when the Sun is at its southernmost point (at the Tropic of Capricorn). The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs about June 21-22. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs about December 21. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium which translates to “sun standing still”. During each solstice, it seems as if the Sun is standing still.

If you would like to work with the expert writing and editing team at Writing It Right For You, contact us! We’ll make sure that your writing is never confusing!

Leave us any questions you have about confusing word pairs in the comments section!



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similar to/different from


Disclaimer: You know that I am an English teacher, don’t you? Welcome to your English lesson for today: how to correctly use these two common phrases.

Recently I have heard these prepositional phrases used incorrectly. What is a prepositional phrase, you ask? That question has a simple answer: it is a phrase (an incomplete sentence) that includes a preposition (words that show a spatial relationship–especially those that show direction).

When I taught elementary school, my favorite way to teach prepositional phrases was to have my students sing that classic Thanksgiving song: “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”

The words “to” and “from” are prepositions, so the phrases “similar to” and “different from” are prepositional phrases, but it is important to use the correct prepositions to use with the adjectives (descriptive modifiers of nouns).

There is a commercial currently running about dentures adhesive where the actress playing a dentist says: “…dentures are very different to real teeth.” Yikes! She should be saying “different from real teeth.

The word “similar” means almost alike, so one noun in the comparison is actually coming towards (or to) the other noun. The word “different” means not alike, so one noun is actually moving away (or from) the other noun in the comparison.

Please be grammatically correct and when comparing two nouns, say either “similar to” or “different from”. You will sound and be so smart!

Class dismissed!

If you have a project that would be improved with the assistant of the English experts at Writing It Right For You, contact us (http://writingitrightforyou.com/home/contact-us-2) and we’ll be glad to help!

Scrivener is the #1 App for All of my Writing Projects


I am a writer. I am an editor. I am a manuscript preparer and an eBook publisher. I am a social media marketing and branding consultant. For all of those roles that I manage for my three businesses, I do a lot of writing. I write on my MacBook Air from my home office and my MacBook Pro from my Midtown Detroit office. Away from my offices, I write my iPad2 and iPad Mini.

When I write short, often internal documents, I use Google Docs and Google Drive. Most of my clients send me documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the global gold standard contained in the Microsoft Office Suite; I use those programs in Office for Mac 2011, which integrates (almost) perfectly with the PC/Windows version. Sometimes I use Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in the Apple iWorks Office Suite, mostly because the apps are fun to use (and now free in iOS). For now however, for the majority of my original writing and editing I do for myself and for my clients, I use Scrivener, the popular application designed especially for writers.

Scrivener is not a “word processor”, it is a writing tool. What is the difference? Scrivener was designed just for writers, who are, for the most part, right-brained “creatives”. Scrivener includes several features that allow writers to plan, organize, view, edit, and write in whatever structure they are most comfortable. Completed Scrivener projects can be exported in many formats, including for eBooks.

MacBook Pro Available in 15.4- and 17-inch dia...
MacBook Pro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I use Scrivener to write my blog posts, my articles, my eBooks and books, my courses, my marketing materials, and my podcast scripts.

In a future post of my “Apps I Use” series, I will give you a more complete narrative of the app and how I use it for my businesses, but right now I have several client projects to finish. All of them have been uploaded to my Scrivener account, which I can access on both of my MacBooks.

This is going to be fun. If you need the assistance of the professional writers and editors at Writing It Right For You, contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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orient vs orientate

20130728-194957.jpg“Orient” and “orientate” are both verbs that mean “to position yourself” in a particular situation or environment. “Orient” as a noun refers to countries in the eastern hemisphere, particularly Asian countries, and the original meaning of the verb orient was to position yourself facing the east towards the rising sun.

In today’s common meaning of the verb orient, you can use either orient or orientate as they both mean the same thing. It is really personal preference, although our friends across the pond in the UK prefer “orientate”, while we here in the US prefer “orient”.

The writing and editing professionals at Writing It Right For You are always ready to assist you with your academic and business communication projects. Contact us any time!


glimpse or glance?

Baby (12-18 Months)Here is another noun-verb word pair that can sometimes be confusing. The word “glimpse” is a noun that describes the act of seeing something quickly. A “glance” is an action verb that refers to taking a fast look at something.

You glance over your shoulder to get a glimpse of the commotion behind you.




  • glimpse: noun
  • glance: verb


If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You.

We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Its or It’s

I posted this a while ago but I felt like it needed to be posted again as I still see so many people making this error.

So, these two terms are relatively simple to use.  Proper placement is EVERYTHING here.

Of course, the definition is most important.  To define each of these equally confusing terms, let’s turn to Webster.

“Its” is an adjective.  The term ‘its’ is used to explain something relating to itself.  Here is an example of ‘its’ being used properly.  “The dog placed its final paw print into the flower bed.”

Now, the term ‘it’s’ is a conjunction, you all remember School House Rock:  Conjunction Junction (sings) “what’s your function.” Sure you do, but if you’re in denial, a conjunction is the act of combining, in this case words.

“It’s” is a contraction for  “It is” and/or “it has”.  For example, “It’s a shame she didn’t think to eat before the wedding, look at that stain!”

Possession is nine tenths of the law.

“It Matters How You Say It!”

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Etymology: Camouflage

blog-discovery-computer_guyetymology: the study of word origins

Use of the word camouflage originated in Paris in the late 19th century. It is a combination of the Italian word camuffare, which means “to disguise”, and the French word camouflet, which means “a puff of smoke”. Back in ol’ Par-ee in the 1870s, thieves would put an attractive woman in a crowd and have her blow smoke in the face of the target of the thieves in order to distract him. “Blowing smoke” (another slang term) was thought to be sexually suggestive and distracting enough to allow the thieves to snatch the wallet of their victim.

In World War I, the British came up with disguises for their soldiers and equipment to hide them from those new-fangled aeroplanes, did the word camouflage come into common military use.

Around the same time, the U.S. and British navies painted bold stripes on their ships to make it difficult to ascertain in which direction the ships were traveling; the practice was called “disruptive camouflage”.

The professional wordsmiths at Writing It Right For You are ready to help you with writing or editing project. Contact us!