Commonly Misused Words
Confused by everyday words?
You are not alone!
Misused words reflect badly on you and your company so it’s important to get them right.
This page will help you.
Amount and Number
‘Amount’ is often used incorrectly. People say ‘amount’ when really they mean ‘number’.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you can count it, use ‘number’. If you can’t, use ‘amount’. For example, ‘The number of people attending the inauguration was 1.5 million.’ (Yes, we all know that was an ‘alternative fact’.) And, ‘The amount of rice in the pot is enough for six.’
Less and Fewer
Know that aisle in the supermarket which says, ‘Express – 12 items or less’? Well, it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. The word should be ‘fewer’.
It’s a common mistake but an easy one to get right. Here’s how:
‘Fewer’ is used when you can count the number of items you’re talking about (E.g. in your supermarket trolley).
‘Less’ is when you can’t count them.
So, write ‘fewer’ items and ‘less’ rice.
There, Their, They’re
‘There’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ all sound the same and are very easy to mix up. So how do you know which one to use? Simple!
‘There’ is directional – as in ‘over there’.
‘Their’ is possessive – as in belonging to someone or something. So, ‘their shoes’, ‘their shareholders’.
‘They’re’ is short for ‘they are’ so ‘they’re going on holiday’.
When using the last two be sure your reader understands who is meant by ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.
Affect and Effect
‘Affect’ means to influence something or someone as in ‘Your job will be affected by the factory closure’.
‘Effect’ can be used as a verb or a noun. As a verb, ‘effect’ means to accomplish something as in, ‘These changes will be in effect by Monday’. As a noun, ‘effect’ is the result of something, as in ‘The sunny weather has a huge effect on sales’.
Principal and Principle
Principal means a key or leading person, an amount of money or, as an adjective, most important. For example, a school principal.
A principle is a fundamental truth or law, a personal code of conduct, or a general law in nature. If you are a principled person, you might not lie, steal or cheat.