Part 1 of 3—Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

Have there ever been times when you wanted to use a certain word in your written message, but you had to pause and wonder if you were using the correct form of the word? For example, do you know when to use the word allowed even though it sounds a lot like (and even looks something like) the word aloud? The word allowed is the past tense of the verb allow, which means “permit.” On the other hand, the word aloud means “something can be heard” or “is audible.”

You will be given a list of commonly confused words (along with their meanings and examples) over the next few weeks. Knowing when to use these words correctly is one important step in becoming a good writer.  Skilled writers have learned how to incorporate these words into both their written and spoken vocabularies and to practice, practice, practice. Good luck!

Word Meaning Example
Accede To comply with; to give consent Mr. Smith will accede to the terms of the contract and pay the debt.
Exceed To surpass His final project exceeds our expectations.
Accept To take or to receive Donovan will accept the job offer.
Except To exclude Everyone will be offered a week’s vacation except Mary.
Ad Short for the word advertisement The Boston Marathon was featured in Sunday’s ad.
Add To join Add one cup milk to the sauce.
Adverse Harmful; hostile; or unfavorable Not changing the oil in your car regularly can have adverse results on the engine.
Averse Opposed to something You can pass the certification exam easily if you aren’t averse to a heavy homework load.
Affect To influence; or to change Donna was negatively affected by the strong allergy medicine.
Effect To result in something; or to bring about something Bob’s leadership will have a positive effect on the organization.
Allot To assign; or to distribute a share of something Mr. Smith’s estate was allotted to his four children.
A lot A great deal Her determination resulted in a lot of changes.
Anyone Means “anybody” (compound pronoun)—any person at all Anyone can improve is he or she is willing to put forth the effort.
Any one Means “any one person in a group.” If any one of the accountants can balance the budget, he or she will receive a bonus.
Anyway Means “in any case” Anyway, Meredith will be able to join the group on Wednesday.
Any way Means “any method” If there is any way to resolve the crisis, the members will be very happy.
Assistance To help I can be of assistance, please let me know.
Assistants Means “those who help” You should contact Barbara Wilson or one of her assistants.

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

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