It happens to all of us. We’re busily writing a letter or email and suddenly we doubt if a word we just typed is the right one for the situation. Personally, I always have a hard time keeping “it’s” and “its” straight. Maybe you struggle with “your” and “you’re” or “advice” and “advise.”
In fact, there are a number of words that commonly confuse lots of people. To help you out, here’s a guide to some of the ones that I see most frequently in the editing work that I do.
|COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS
Advice is a noun that means guidance or counsel.
My advice to you is that you advise your staff to answer the telephone promptly.
Complement & Compliment
Complement (as a noun) means something that completes; complement (as a verb) means to complete.
“I would like to compliment the chef,” said Ralph, “because the flavors of this dish complement each other so perfectly.”
Insure, Ensure & Assure
While all 3 of these words relate to guaranteeing that something is true or will happen, there are subtle differences in their usages:
Assure means to say, write or confirm the guarantee.
“Let me assure you there’s no need to worry,” he said. “While your firewall will ensure that hackers don’t get into your system, this new policy will insure you against loss if your system goes down.”
Its & It’s
Its means of or belonging to it.
It’s just amazing that the dog can sense when its owner is coming home.
Their & They’re
Their means of or relating to them.
They’re flying to Chicago to visit their cousins.
Whose & Who’s
Whose means of or relating to whom.
Whose turn is it to pick up the guest who’s arriving at 2:00?
Your & You’re
Your means of or relating to you or yourself.
You’re doing a fabulous job with your diet.
CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: TEF CONSULTING
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