Grammar Pet-Peeves


Exams are almost over, so I have decided to write a post about an article I found on the Guardian website about how to use the English language properly. It annoys me very much when people use the wrong form of there/their/they’re and your/you’re, which is why this article struck a chord with me. I would like to share some of the commonly misused words with you and hopefully get English grammar under control!

The first set of misused words was affect and effect. This error has become so prevalent in recent times that even my textbook has the wrong form of it, to my great dismay. To clarify which to use and when, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. This means that affect does something eg affecting your mood, and effect is something eg the consequence.

Interestingly, the word alternatives featured on the list of commonly misused words because apparently some people use it to mean choices, which is by no means correct, in fact there are only alternatives when there are two options; any more options and you have choices. Also, the word alibi featured on the list because it is mistaken to be a synonym for excuse, whereas it means that you have proof eg that you were not at a crime scene.

Anticipate is commonly confused with the word expect. However, if you expect something, you think it will happen, but if you anticipate something, you prepare for it. Interestingly, it seems to be common for people to misuse blatant and flagrant. Blatant means something is very obvious, whereas flagrant means you are breaking the law. The definitions are wildly different!

Much like someone can suffer from a chronic illness, the word chronic is derived from Greek and means long lasting as opposed to severe. The next confusion on the list was compose and comprise, and I see why people can mix them up because they look quite similar. However, to compose something is to form it, whereas comprise means that a thing makes up something up; the article describes how the US comprises of 50 states.

A word I found which was very interesting was decimate; seeing it now, I can clearly see the deci which is derived from Latin. In the past, I used it to suggest that something was destroyed, as the article suggests, but it actually means the death of one in ten people, which now makes a lot more sense to me!

The article went on to describe many more instances of people using words incorrectly, and I learnt that luxuriant means to grow very fast, in contrast to the term luxurious. I was surprised that the article did not include the terms genuinely/generally because I hear this used incorrectly all the time, even my own family cannot distinguish the two definitions! To clear things up, genuinely means truly, in real life and generally means usually.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post,


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