Grammar Tips: Most Commonly Confused Words

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Is it its vs it's? You're or your and fewer or less? There, they're and their, and affected vs effected. Which do you choose? This article contains the top ten most commonly confused words and offers examples and easy to remember tips for using the words.


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Most Commonly Confused Words

1. Its or it's:
Its is the possessive form of it. Since the word its is already possessive, you do not use an apostrophe. To remember, think of the word her. You don't use an apostrophe with her because it is already possessive.
Example: What is the dog's name? What is its name? Its=possesive.

It's is the contraction of the words it and is.
Example: It is hot today. It's hot today. It's=it is.


2. Your or you're:
Your is the possessive form of you. Since the word your is already possessive, you do not use an apostrophe. To remember, think of the word her, which does not take an apostrophe because it is already possessive.
Example: What is the girls's name? What is your name? Your=possesive.

You're is the contraction of the words you and are.
Example: You are nice. You're nice. You're= you are.


3. Whose and who's:
Whose is the possessive form of who. Since the word who is already possessive, you do not use an apostrophe. To remember, think of the word her, which does not take an apostrophe because it is already possessive.
Example: Who does that book belong to? Whose book is that? Whose=possesive.

Who's is the contraction of the words who and is.
Example: Who is that woman? Who's that woman? Who's=who is.

4. Affect vs. effect:
Affect wth an A means to make an impact on something, to influence it.
Example: The scandal affected the outcome of the election.
Example: Temperature changes affect my mood.

Effect with an E is a noun and means the result or the outcome. Notice that you effect is often used with the verbs to be or to have.
Example: The scandal had a big effect on the election.
Example: The effects of the tornado were devastating.


5. Than vs then:
Than is used to compare two or more things. It is used to say one thing is bigger, smaller, better, worse, taller, shorter and so on in comparison to something else.
Example: An ocean is bigger than a lake.
Example: The baby is smaller than her older sister.

Then refers to time or order.
Example: We went to the store and then went home.
Example: She hired the manager and then later hired the staff.


6. There, they're and their
There refers to a location.
Example: Put the book over there.
Example: There you are!

They're is a contraction of they and are.
Example: They're nice people. They're = they're
Example: They're going to the movies.

Their is the possessive form of they.
Example: The policemen put on their hats. The hats of the policemen = their hats.
Example: The men ate their dinners.


7. Good vs well:
Good refers to what something is and should be used with verbs such as look, feel, taste and sound. If you're not sure which to use, rephrase the sentence using how or what at the beginning.
Example: What is the food like? The food is good. (taste)
Example: What is the weather like? The weather is good. (feel)

Well refers to how something is and should be used with most verbs. If you're not sure which to use, rephrase the sentence using how or what at the beginning.
Example: How is the project going? It is going well.
Example: How is your mother feeling? She is feeling well.


8. Fewer vs less:
Use fewer to describe things that are tangible and can be counted. Example: I should eat fewer donuts. (You can count the number of donuts.)
Example: After she broke some, there were fewer eggs in the basket.
Use less to describe things can are intangible and cannot be counted. Example: I should eat less junk food. (You can count items of junk food but you cannot count the idea of junk food)
Example: After she spilled some, there was less water in the bucket. (Water drops can be counted but water cannot be counted)


9. Much vs many:
Use many to describe things that are tangible and can be counted. Example: He drank too many beers. (You can count the number of beers.)
Example: she spent many years in Europe. (You can count the number of years)
Use less to describe things can are intangible and cannot be counted. Example: He drank too much beer. (You can count containers of beer but you cannot count the intangible idea of beer).
Example: Much of her time she spent in Europe.(Years can be counted but time cannot be counted.)


10. Who or that:
Use who when talking about a person or people in a sentence. Example: A girl who is in my class lives in that house.
Example: The people who bought the building were on the news.
Use that when talking about animals or objects.
Example: Which cat is it that gets in the trash cans?
Example: The red one is the boat that broke down.



More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some information about correctly using the most commonly mistaken words. Check out our main page for more articles here Can U Write.

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