7 Commonly Misused Words

Oct. 17, 2019 by Adriana Thompson

Student Writing With PenThe English language is complicated, especially when it comes to proper grammar. Here are seven words that are commonly misused.

Alot

Alot is not a word; it’s a misspelling of a lot, which means “many.”

Example: This mistake occurs a lot in essays.

e.g. vs. i.e.

These Latin abbreviations are frequently seen in textbooks. E.g. means “for the sake of example,” and you use it to present examples or more possibilities.

Example: I like pizza (e.g., pepperoni, margarita and cheese).

I.e. means “that is” or “in other words.” You use this abbreviation to explain or rephrase a sentence.

Example: I like all types of pizza (i.e., I eat any kind of pizza).

Farther vs. Further

People often use these terms interchangeably, but they have different meanings.

Use farther when you’re talking about measurable distance, and use further to refer to a metaphorical distance or something additional.

Examples:
He is farther from campus than she is.
An education at Concordia University Texas will take you further.
I have further classes to take before I can graduate.

Pro-Tip: To learn more about proper grammar, check out our 5 Common Grammar Mistakes blog post!

Ironic

The word ironic is used when something happens that is the exact opposite of what is expected. It doesn’t mean “coincidental” or “inconvenient.”

Example: It was ironic that I misspelled my name on the grammar test.

Irregardless

Though it’s commonly used in conversation to mean “despite everything,” irregardless is generally not accepted as a real world. While it is included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, writers are strongly encouraged to use regardless instead.

Literally

This word is regularly abused in speech. The word means “in a literal manner” or “actually.” However, people often use it metaphorically.

Here’s an easy way to check if literally is the correct word to use: did it actually happen?

Sentence

Correct Use?

Concordia literally has wild animals on its campus.

This is true, so literally is used correctly.

I literally laughed my head off.

Unless you no longer possess a head, literally is not the right word to use.

People at Concordia literally say, “Woosh!”

This is true, so literally is used correctly.

I literally have a million assignments this semester.

Unless you’re taking 168,000 credit hours, you will never have one million assignments in one semester. Literally is not the right word to use.


Then vs. Than

Then means “at that time” or “next.” Than is used for comparison.

Examples:
I was a freshman then, but now I am a senior.
My college GPA is higher than my high school GPA.

Proper grammar is important because it impacts your success as a student and will impact your success as a professional. For more tips, visit the Writing Center.

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