This blog is reprinted with the very kind permission of Arlene Miller, who as the Grammar Diva, has a superb website bigwords101.com
Help! Which Word Do I Use? Confusing Words Part 1
APRIL 11, 2014 BY ARLENE MILLER
In this post, we begin another series—commonly confused words—and there are quite a few of them! Today we turn our attention to those words—or word pairs—that often stump and confuse. We will start at the beginning of the alphabet.
1. Advice/Advise: These two words are different parts of speech and are pronounced differently. In advice, the c has an s sound, and the word is a noun. In advise, the s has a zsound, and the word is a verb. Examples:
I have some good advice for you.
Could you advise me on this legal matter?
2. Affect/Effect: This troublesome pair is the granddaddy of troublesome! Once again, these words are different parts of speech. Affectis a verb, an action. Effect is a noun, a thing. You can put an article in front of effect (the effect, an effect). Examples:
The hot weather has a positive effect on my mood.
The hot weather affects me and improves my mood.
3. Allusion/Illusion: These words are both nouns, but have entirely different meanings. An allusion is a reference to something; its verb is to allude. An illusionis something you see that isn’t there, and there is no verb. Examples:
He made an allusion to Shakespeare in his speech about playwriting.
The water you sometimes think you see ahead on the highway is just an illusion.
4. Almost/Most: The general rule: If you can use almost in a sentence, use it. Don’t use most. When it is correct to use most, almost will not make sense in its place. Example:
Almost everyone is here by now. (Don’t say most everyone.)
Most of the pizza is gone. (Almost doesn’t make sense there, so use most.)
5. Already/All ready: Already is an adverb that tells when. All ready is an adjective. Example:
Is it already time to go?
I am all ready to go.
6. Alright/All right: This one is easy. Always use all right as two words. Alright isn’t a word (or is a really slang word, so avoid it). Example:
Everything will be all right.
All right. I will go with you.
7. Altogether/All together: Altogether means totally or completely.This pair is best shown by example:
It is altogether too cold for me!
Let’s sing all together! (Or Let’s all sing together, where you split the words.)
8. Among/Between: These two words are both prepositions. Between is used when you are talking about two people or things; among is used when you are referring to more than two people or things. Example:
Divide the cake between you and your sister.
Divide the cake among the four of you.
9. Anymore/Any more: Anymore is an adverb that tells when and means any longer. Any more means additional. Anymore is generally referred to in a negative sense and sounds wrong when there is no negative in the sentence. Example:
I can’t find that type of candy anymore. (negative can’t)
I don’t want any more pasta, thank you.
I wish I could find that type of candy anymore. (Not correct. No negative in the sentence. Sounds very weird to me, but I hear people say it.)
10. Anyone/Any one: Anyone refers to a person. Any one doesn’t necessarily refer to a person, and is generally followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with of. Example:
Anyone can eat the leftover pizza.
Any one of you could probably fix the broken chair.