Confusing Words...

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There are several words that seem to perplex many, much of the time…

  • Traveling or Travelling
  • Canceled or Cancelled
  • Adviser or Advisor
  • All ready or Already
  • I.E. or E.G.
  • Awhile or A While

Let’s take a look at each set of words:grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Traveling or Travelling? Seems that using one L is more acceptable in the US, but using two Ls is common abroad.

Canceled or Cancelled? Again, it seems we Americans are the efficient ones, using only one L. Oxord Concise Dictionary says cancelled, but Merriam-Webster says either way. MS Word didn’t squiggle either spelling!
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Adviser or Advisor? The Columbia Guide to Standard English says BOTH are correct noun forms of the word Advise.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
All ready or Already? These are different words that are sometimes misused. Already is an adverb used to describe something that has happened before a certain time, as in “Are you coming? I’ve already got my jacket.” All ready is a phrase meaning completely prepared, as in “As soon as I put on my jacket, I’ll be all ready.”grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
I.Ee., or E.G., ? Again two separate meanings.

"I.e." means "that is," which is short for a Latin phrase. "I.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is."

"E.g." means "for example" and also comes from a Latin expression. "E.g." is normally used before an example.

Awhile or A While? Awhile is an adverb, which means "for a while," for example, “I walked awhile before I became tired.” A while is two words: the article “a” plus a noun, used primarily after the word “for,” for example, “I thought for a while before I answered.”



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BAD or BADLY?

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Have you ever wondered if “I feel badly” is correct or incorrect? Okay, most people don’t wonder, but maybe, just maybe, you are wondering. So, which is correct, “I feel badly,” or “I feel bad,” when describing one’s physical state? Most people aren’t confused when they hear either of these sentences: they just know that you don’t feel well.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Let’s take a look at the rules:

  1. LY is added to the end of an adjective to create an adverb. Wait! Don’t go. Just take it one step at a time, and it’ll make sense.
  2. An adjective describes something. An adverb describes something too: a verb*
  3. Okay, so LY added to a word means that it describes a VERB. A verb shows ACTION.
  4. SO…words that end in LY can only describe HOW or the METHOD of performing an ACTION.

BADLY, can ONLY show HOW something is DONE. Here are some sentences to exemplify all this gibberish:
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Correct:

  • He writes badly. (Tells how he writes.)
  • She sings badly. (Tells how she sings.)

Incorrect:

  • She feels badly. (Tells how she touches something…not her physical state but her tactile ability.)
  • I felt badly about his death. (Again, incorrect.)

“I feel bad.” Is the only correct way to express your state of health.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
(*and other adjectives, but let’s not get in over our heads just yet.)

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Sexist Language

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This week, I’ve noticed an alarming number of offenses in sexist language. Sexist language isn’t limited to using the generic HE; it goes far beyond this, but I’ll cover this for now.

It is no longer acceptable to use HE to represent the human (or any) population—unless the entire population is male and that fact is verifiable. It is acceptable, however, to alternate between HE and SHE (or him and her) throughout a text, to represent an unknown gender; at first this may seem confusing so it is advisable to use neutral words that do not indicate gender. Here’s are three paragraphs that exemplify this rule; the first is sexist, the second uses alternating pronouns, and the third substitutes pronouns with other nouns that do not indicate gender:

  1. Just before the birth, help your child select his own special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help him choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help him wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When he comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so he can present it to Baby.
  2. Just before the birth, help your child select his own special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help her choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help him wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When she comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so he can present it to Baby.
  3. Just before the birth, help your child select a special gift to give to the baby at the hospital. Gently help the child choose an infant-appropriate toy. Help the soon-to-be sibling wrap it and place it in your hospital bag. When it comes to visit the new baby at the hospital, have the gift available so the older child can present it to Baby.

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Advise or Advice?

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Seems lately I’ve been fixated on words that are commonly confused, so why stop now? The two words I’ve noticed recently that people seem to interchanged incorrectly are ADVICE and ADVISE.

Definitions:
  • ADVISE – (S=Z sound): It’s a VERB, which means it shows ACTION. To ADVISE someone is to give them ADVICE or a recommendation.
  • ADVICE – (C=S sound): It’s a NOUN, which means it’s a person, place, thing, idea, or concept. It’s a recommendation or a suggestion.

I think it’s the consonant sounds that trip up speakers and writers. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

ADVISE:

  • The teacher will advise you to take notes.
  • The counselor advised us to select fewer courses.

ADVICE:

  • The teacher’s advice was helpful.
  • The counselor’s advice was not applicable to us.
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