In Memoriam: Dr. Maya Angelou

Writers, poets, educators, activists, and spoken-word artists the world over are in mourning today. Award-winning author, novelist, poet, educator, actress and activist, Dr. Maya Angelou has died at age 86. Dr. Angelou is best known for her award-winning writing, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This seminal autobiographical work chronicles her life as a childhood...

Return back / Return

If you use “return back,” the expression is redundant. Using “return” is enough to express any idea. 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”! Visit Common Errors in English for more tips like this.

Vintage point / Vantage point

“Vintage point” isn’t a correct expression. The spot from which you have a good view is a vantage point. 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”! Visit Common Errors in English for more tips like...

Wreckless / Reckless

“Reckless” means not reckoning carefully all the hazards involved in an action. “Wreckless” is no more than a misspelling of the word reckless. 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”! Visit Common Errors in...

Toe a fine line / Tread a fine line, toe the line

When you tread (or walk) a fine line, you are trying to keep your balance between two alternatives, rather as if you were walking carefully along a narrow tightrope. Neighbors have to tread a fine line between being friendly and being nosy. A related expression is “there is a fine line between” two alternatives: “there’s...

Bemuse / Amuse

Even if their sound is similar, their meanings are not. “Bemuse” means to confuse, and “amuse” means to entertain. Many times, some bemusing things can be very amusing. 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...

All ready / Already

This is a very easy one. “Already” is an adverb used to describe something that happened before certain time. “All ready” means “completely prepared.” See these examples: She was all ready before I got home for dinner. She had already dressed up when I got home. If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing...

Subject to / Subjected to

Although these two expressions can sometimes be switched with only a slight change in meaning, they are not equivalent. To be subjected to some sort of treatment is to actually be treated in that way, usually in an objectionable way. But to be subject to a regulation, to taxes, to discussion, to inspection, to any...

Gauge / Gouge

“Gauge” is an unusual spelling in English, and the word frequently gets misspelled. Your spelling-checker will catch “gague” (believe it!), but won’t catch “gouge,” which occurs more often than you might think. It’s pretty easy to find a “tire pressure gouge” for sale on the Web. If the word you want has an A sound...

Us / We

Both are pronouns, but one is the object and one is the subject. Subjects perform the action and objects receive it. “We called you yesterday, but you never called us back.” 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...

Zoology

Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem to make any sense, but similar words have completely different pronunciations. Did you know this? You pronounce “oo” in “zoo.” You pronounce “oh-ah” in words like “zoology” and “zoologist” (they rhyme with “boa”). You pronounce “oh-oh” in some technical words like “zooplankton.” If you need writing or editing assistance with the very...

Sacred / Scared

This is one of those silly typos which your spelling checker won’t catch, that’s why you need to be very careful whenever you use these words. Being worshipped and being afraid shouldn’t be used interchangeably. 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...

Comprise / Compose

It seems simple enough: “to comprise” means “to contain”, as in “The house comprises seven rooms.” The fly in the ointment as far as the word “comprise” goes is the similar-sounding word “compose,” which means “to make up,” as in “Many ethnic groups compose our nation.” Now let’s talk about the phrases “is comprised of”...

Ringer / Wringer

A “wringer” is an old-fashioned washing machine that lacked a spin cycle (you had to feed each piece of wet clothing between two rotating cylinders). This led to the metaphorical saying according to which someone put through an ordeal is said to have been put “through the wringer.” Few people remember those old wringer washers,...

Just so happens / Just happen

The following expressions are popular but non-traditional: “I just so happen,” “she just so happens,” “they just so happen,” etc. In each of these cases, the “so” should be omitted. “Just so happens” is used only with the subject “it,” with the word “so” providing emphasis. If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing...