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Usage

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USAGE

Part 1

Expressing yourself clearly and effectively depends greatly on the words you choose and how you use them in sentences. The English language offers a rich and extensive vocabulary, but it also harbors a wealth of look-alike, sound-alike words that can confuse your message.

Accept/except

? accept (verb): Receive willing; agree to; consent to.

o John will accept the award at the luncheon on Thursday.

? except (preposition): Other than; with the exclusion of.

o All of the reports except Linda's have been turned in.

Adapt/adept/adopt

? adapt (verb): To adjust to the needs.

o You can adapt the report template to suit the information you wish to convey.

? adept (adjective): Proficient; extremely skilled.

o Angry customers soon calm down when Ellison speaks to them; she is adept at making people feel relaxed.

? adopt (verb): To choose.

o If we adopt the new rules for our meetings, things will be more orderly.

Adherence/adherents

? adherence (noun): Attachment; following closely.

o Rules will only work if everyone is in adherence to them.

? adherents (plural noun): Supporters; followers.

o The adherents of the new proposal made sure they were at the meeting in order to show their support.

Adverse/averse

? adverse (adjective): Unfavorable, hostile.

o The President was opposed to adverse criticism.

? averse (adjective): Opposed (usually used with "to")

o The President was averse to hostile criticism.

Affect/effect

? affect (verb): To influence (most common usage).

o The new policy will affect employee morale in a positive way.

? affect (noun): Feeling or emotion (rare usage).

o The patient demonstrated little affect during the session.

? effect (verb): To bring about, to cause (rare usage).

o The cost reduction program will effect layoffs of some staff members.

? effect (noun): Result, outcome (most common usage).

o What effect will the equipment malfunction have on shipment of the orders?

Aid/aide

? aid (verb): To help.

o I would appreciate it if you could aid me in finding conference room 2B.

? aide (noun): An assistant.

o The department will be hiring an aide to help with all the paperwork this project is generating.

Allude/elude

? allude (verb): to make an indirect reference.

o At the staff meeting, the manager alluded to the customer service complaints.

? elude (verb): To escape detection.

o The errors in the report eluded the proofreader.

Allusion/illusion

? allusion (noun): Indirect reference.

o Harriet made an allusion to the other company's profitability in her report.

? illusion (noun): An erroneous, false perception.

o Perfect morale is an illusion in many companies today.

Alternate/alternative

? alternate (noun): In place of another; substitute.

o I was selected as an alternate, to be there in case one of the jurors cannot finish the whole trial.

? alternative (adjective): One of several things from which to choose.

o Though several alternatives to the current method exist, the team only tried one before scrapping the project altogether.

Among/between

? among (preposition): Used to describe relationships involving more than two people or things.

o The four of them decided among themselves where they wanted to have dinner.

? between (preposition): Used to describe relationships involving only two or for comparing one thing to a group in which it belongs.

o The choice was between New York and Los Angeles.

Ante-/anti-

? ante- (prefix): Prefix meaning "before."

o We dedicate this memorial to our ancestors, to our antecedents in the community, to all those who have come before us.

? anti- (prefix): Prefix meaning "against."

o I hope my antiperspirant lasts through the meeting; I don't want them to see me break a sweat.

Anxious/eager

? anxious (adjective): Worried; disturbed; concerned.

o The anxious secretary checked three times for the overnight delivery.

? eager (adjective): Enthusiastic interested; keen.

o Susan was eager to start her new job.

Appraise/apprise

? appraise (verb): To evaluate; to judge; to estimate.

o The head of Risk Management will appraise the four buildings before issuing insurance policies.

? apprise (noun): A foundation upon which something rests.

o I will apprise you of the board's decision immediately after Tuesday's meeting.

Bases/basis

? bases (plural noun): Plural of "base" and of "basis."

o Let's make sure we cover all the bases of our pitch again before we make our final presentation.

? basis (noun): A foundation upon which something rests.

o On the basis of your stunning letters of recommendation, we have decided to hire you for the position.

Bizarre/bazaar

? bizarre (adjective): Strikingly unconventional; odd; weird.

o I knew something bizarre was happening when the elevator was filled with balloons.

? bazaar (noun): A market.

o Every week during the summer a bazaar sets up in the parking lot to sell crafts and snacks.

Broach/brooch

? broach (verb): To introduce.

o I hate to broach the subject, but have you found out what led to Alan quitting last week?

? brooch (noun): A piece of jewelry.

o I don't usually wear jewelry, but my grandmother gave me this brooch recently and she's meeting me for lunch.

Capital/capitol

? capital (noun): Assets; money; seat of state government; upper case letter.

o The new plant represents a major capital investment.

o Denver is the capital of Colorado.

o Start each sentence with a capital letter.

? capitol (Noun): Building where the legislature meets.

o Capital Hill is usually a frenzy of activity.

Cash/cache

? cash (noun): Money (slang).

o We have the cash to invest now, and we need to act while the market is hot.

? cache (noun): A hiding place.

o I know there is a cache of chocolate around here somewhere, just in case of emergencies.

Casual/causal

? casual (adjective): Incidental; not formal

o We had a casual discussion about the case when we passed in the hall, but we did not have any meetings about it yet.

? causal (adjective): Expressed cause; relates to or constitutes a cause.

o The causal factor in the company's debt is that it spent more money than it took in.

Chord/cord

? chord (noun): A combination of musical notes.

o The opening chord of this piece of music is a perfect representation of the energy our product delivers. Let's use it in the commercial.

? cord (noun): String or rope.

o Tie up the bundle of catalogues with cord so we can recycle them.

Cite/sight/site

? cite (verb): To quote an authority; to acknowledge.

o Linda cited the first three quarterly reports in her year-end summary.

? sight (noun): Ability to see.

o Bill did not lose sight of problems in Operations when he moved to Purchasing.

? site: (noun): Location or place.

o Our company has three remote sites where manufacturing takes place.

Climatic/climactic

? climatic (adjective): Relating to climax; the highest point.

o There will be some climatic discomfort in the office until the air conditioning is repaired.

? climactic

o Of course, the most climactic point of the conference occurred when the whiteboard fell over onto the laser projector and burst into flames.

Complement/compliment

? complement (verb): To complete or add value to something.

o The new safety program will complement perfectly the OSHA regulations implemented on January 1.

? complement (noun): Something that completes or brings to perfection.

o The wine was a delicious complement to the meal.

? compliment (verb): To praise.

o Susan complimented the staff on a job well done.

? compliment (noun): An expression of praise.

o Bill was embarrassed by the compliment.

Conscience/conscious

? conscience (noun): A sense of right and wrong.

o Only someone with a complete lack of conscience would bilk old ladies out of their savings.

? conscious (adjective): Fully aware.

o I am conscious of the fact that sometimes you need to spend money to make money, but there are limits.

Continual/continuous

? continual (adjective): Occurring steadily, but with occasional stops or breaks.

o Because he continually missed his deadlines, he received a verbal warning.

? continuous (adjective): Unbroken, occurred without pauses, stops, or breaks.

o Niagara Falls receives a continuous flow of water from the river.

Council/counsel/consul

? council (noun): An advisory or legislative body.

o Sandra's position on the Executive Council will last for two years.

? counsel (noun): Advice or help.

o Mary sought counsel from Brian about whether or not she should interview for the new position.

? counsel (verb): To advise.

o The dietitian will counsel the patient about nutritious meal plans.

? consul (noun) A government official who resides in a foreign city and represents fellow citizens there.

o The consul promised to check into the snarled paperwork.

Criticize/critique

? criticize (verb): To judge negatively.

o It is a bad idea to criticize our new programs in front of the fund raisers who made them possible in the first place.

? critique (verb): To evaluate.

o Now that the project is complete, I'd like to critique our process so we know what to repeat, and what aspects need changing.

Decent/descent/dissent

? decent (adjective): Proper, adequate, downward.

o If we do a decent job at promoting this product, it will fly off the shelves.

? descent (noun): The act of moving downward.

o The descent of the company to second in the market is unacceptable to driven CEO.

? dissent (noun): Disagreement.

o The dissent in the room was audible in the loud groans we heard when the idea was presented.

Deduce/deduct

? deduce (verb): To infer, to draw a conclusion.

o I deduce from your wet umbrella that it is still raining outside.

? deduct (verb): To subtract from.

o My balance is low because every week I deduct more from account than I put in.

Defuse/diffuse

? defuse (verb): To make less harmful, potent, or tense.

o A trained negotiator can defuse a difficult situation between irritated parties.

? diffuse (verb): To spread out; to scatter.

o The lamps in the waiting room are too harsh; we need shades to diffuse the light.

Disapprove/disprove

? disapprove (verb): To express lack of approval.

o I disapprove of the way that some people take two-hour lunches and leave the work to the rest of us.

? disprove (verb): To prove false.

o The fact that our department is first in sales this quarter should disprove all those who criticized our plan.

Disburse/disperse

? disburse (verb): To pay out.

o The comptroller will not disburse the funds until the proper signatures have been received.

? disperse (verb): To scatter.

o The police asked the crowd to disperse after the party got out of hand.

Disinterested/uninterested

? disinterested (adjective): Impartial, fair, and objective.

o Sally was asked to be a disinterested member of the committee in formulating the new policy.

? uninterested (adjective): Not interested.

o Tom is uninterested in participating in the flex-time program.

Elicit/illicit

? elicit (verb): To draw forth.

o I tried to elicit a response from Jasper about what to order for lunch, but he said nothing.

? illicit (adjective): Amoral.

o The illicit ivory trade has led to the poaching of animals for nothing but their tusks.

Elusive/illusive

? elusive (adjective): Hard to catch.

o The goal is elusive for now, but once we have a decent team together, success will be ours.

? illusive (adjective): Unreal; imaginary.

o The illusive Phoenix is an appropriate symbol for rebirth and renewal.

Emerge/immerge

? emerge (verb): To rise out of.

o Green shoots began to emerge from the soil soon after the bulbs were planted.

? immerge (verb): To plunge into.

o Immerge your hand in cold water immediately so it won't swell.

Eminent/immanent/imminent

? eminent (adjective): Well-known.

o We are fortunate to have an eminent scholar on Egyptian sculpture as our lecturer today.

? immanent (adjective): Existing within; inherent

o Some feel that greed is immanent in human nature, while others believe in honest human kindness.

? imminent (adjective): Impending; soon to arrive.

o Alexander spent all his time on the phone making arrangements for his imminent vacation.

Everyday/every day

? everyday (adjective): Ordinary.

o We should sue the special china for dinner tonight; receiving a promotion is not an everyday occurrence!

? every day (adjective) (noun): Each day.

o Make sure to back up your data every day before you leave the office.

Exalt/exult

? exalt (verb): To raise in rank; glorify.

o Allison was exalted and given another promotion for doubling the client base upon taking over the department.

? exult (verb): To rejoice.

o While we all want to exult in the moment of our team's destruction of property is no way to show one's joy.

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