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Word usage to look out for when you haven't got a Beta. (with particular reference to Iron Man and Avengers fandom). This doesn't cover grammar, canon, formatting or any of the other facets of betaing, just words that I've seen used where they don't belong.

If you're unsure of the difference between 'Affect' and 'Effect', 'Fewer' and 'Less', 'Callus' and 'Callous', or when to use an apostrophe (rule of thumb, apostrophe used where a letter is omitted, or to indicate possession where there does not already exist a possessive form without the apostrophe) then this might help you.

Proper use of possessive pronouns: its dog (the dog is its), his cat (the cat is his), her goldfish (the goldfish is hers), my aardvark (the aardvark is mine), your horse (the horse is yours), Our bunny (the bunny is ours), Their canary (the canary is theirs).

Then there are a few special cases- Whose elephant is that? (the elephant belongs to an unknown), and One's ferret (ferret belonging to a generic one- apparently in a tribe where ferret ownership is assumed).


This is a long list. I've been coming back and adding more as I encounter them. So far I've found no examples beginning with N, X, or Z.



(Note: Armour and Cheque are perfectly correct non-US spelling and usage, however they bug me in US based fandom fics. I can bop along happily to most cultural differences in global English, but these two simply ping my personal radar too hard to ignore. If you're not a US based writer feel free to ignore these first two.)
Armour (in the US, this is a brand of tinned ham) should be Armor (in effect, Iron Man becomes a tinned ham...which... yeah, he kinda IS, but still...)
Cheque (in the US when you pay someone with money from your bank account, you use a Check.)

And here's another word which is perfectly correct non-US spelling and usage but I find it extremely jarring in US-based fandoms:
Stone (weight measure, especially body weight measure, used in Great Britain and Ireland, equal to 14 pounds). US never uses the stone as a weight measure. If a character's weight/weight loss/weight gain is described in stones...well, Captain America becomes Captain Britain in my mind. Very distracting.


Abjectly (contemptibly/humbly/lowest status) when Profoundly (penetrating/deep/ insightful/from the depths of one's being) is meant.
Addition (combining numbers/increasing) when Edition (version/esp. a version of a book) is meant.
Adversary (opponent/enemy) used when Adversity (hardship) is meant.
Advisory (written warning usually) when Adversary (opponent/enemy) is meant.
Affect (has several meanings- the most common usage is to produce an effect- to cause something) often confused with Effect (has several meanings- the most common usage is- the result of a cause) eg: The drug affected the Avengers; the effect was to make them giggle.
Aide (assistant, esp. as a defined profession) when it should be Aid (assistance itself).
Allusive (indirect reference) when Elusive (difficult to grasp/achieve/remember) is meant.
Allusion (indirectly referencing) when Illusion (false perception/belief/image taken for reality) is meant.

An Alternate or An Alternative (either one used as noun means a substitute)
BUT as a verb or adverb they have two different meanings.
Alternate/alternately (switch back and forth between options in regular turn) EG: I alternate hobbies: odd numbered days I draw, even numbered days I write.
Alternative/alternatively (free choice of other option or options) EG: My alternative hobbies include drawing, sewing, and writing stories.

Amount (a quantity that can't be counted-ex: a pile of sand) when it should be Number (countable quantity- ex: sandbags). (Also see Few vs Less).
Ancestor (forebear, usually more remote than a grandparent, from whom one is descended) when Descendant (offspring- a living thing with a particular ancestor, or an inanimate device,system, etc. developed from an earlier, more basic version.) is meant and vice-versa.

Arch reactor should be Arc reactor.
Attain (to reach/achieve/accomplish) when Atone (to make amends for wrong doing) is meant.
Avenger's (belonging to one Avenger)/Avengers' (belonging to multiple Avengers) used when Avengers (the team) is meant. (Many plural nouns are often mistakenly given an apostrophe.)


Backing (supporting/being behind/going in reverse) when Baking (cooking/for cooking) is meant.(Ex: Baking soda)
Banned (forbidden/not allowed) when banded (united/formed a cohesive group) is meant.
Bard (minstrel poet/professional singer) when barred (denied permission/access) is meant.
Bare (naked/plain/unadorned) when it should be Bear (withstand/endure/ be patient/is worthwhile)
B-line (only b-line I found was Kerley B Line- fine horizontal lines a few centimeters above the angle in the chest x-ray that is made by the recess between the ribs and the lateral-most portion of the diaphragm) when Bee-line/Bee line (a direct route/straight line/from idea that nectar-laden bees take the shortest possible path back to the hive.)
Blonde (female with light colored hair) when it should be Blond (male with light colored hair.) Originally French, it retains masculine and feminine forms. If using it as adjective (not just 'the blond' or 'the blonde' but the blond(e) something) then 'blond' or 'blonde' refers to yellowish colors ranging from pale ashy to shades of honey and gold. Dictionaries conflict on which spelling is more common as adjective. I lean towards the 'e' for more decorative/fancy/frivolous items.
Boarder (person who rents a room in a private house) when it should be Border (dividing line esp. between geographical areas)
Borne (carrying/supporting) when it should be Born (come into existence.)
Bravado (display of mock- bravery) when it should be Bravo (word of praise).
Breaks (destroys into pieces) when it should be Brakes (slows/mechanical device for slowing a vehicle.)
Breath (the air taken into and expelled) when it should be Breathe (the act of taking in and expelling air.)
Broacher (a tool for tapping a cask/ to broach is to open- as to open a conversation) when brochure (thin advertising information booklet, usually folded and printed in full color on glossy paper- subject often is tourist attraction) is meant.
Brunette (female with brown hair) when it should be Brunet (male with brown hair). (Unless the hair color has relevance to the story, it's generally better to refer to the character by their name, or simple pronouns. It's also nearly always preferable to avoid using descriptors of profession or physical or mental attributes in place of characters' names once these qualities are known to the reader. In the case of fanfic, your readers almost certainly will know all your descriptors before they start reading. Do not hesitate to use characters' names, or pronouns. They are 'invisible' to readers and do not interrupt the flow of the story, while unneeded descriptors often 'jiggle'.)


Callus (thick, insensitive skin) sometimes confused with Callous (unfeeling/unresponsive emotionally)
Calvary (the hill where Jesus was crucified) when Cavalry (horse troops who arrive for a last second rescue in a seemingly hopeless situation.) is meant.
Cannon (large gun on wheels) used when Canon (official (fandom creators)/ecclesiastical law) is meant
Canvass (to gather information- as taking a political poll) used when canvas (heavy cloth, the cloth mounted on a frame as artist's painting surface) is meant.
Champaign (level open country/a plain/ a city in Illinois, USA) when Champagne (a sparkling wine) is meant.
Chocking (putting a block to hold something in place) instead of Choking (can't breathe properly)
Chocking (putting a block to hold something in place) instead of Chalking (as in 'Chalk it up' where chalk means 'to attribute to' Chalking can also mean scoring points, succeeding in a game, or reaching a certain level or number.)
Choose (to select) confused with Chose (past tense of choose)
Close-lined (sounds like ruled notebook paper to me) instead of Clotheslined (abruptly knocked down by an outstretched arm across your neck while you're running.)
Cloth (fabric) instead of Clothes (garments)
Coalesced (grow/merge together into one body/form) instead of Convalesced (recovered from injury)
Coincides (happens at the same time/place) when Concedes (agrees reluctantly/accepts defeat) is meant.
Collage (image made of cut up other images) when College (advanced school) is meant.
Compensated (made up for something negative.EG: payment for lost wages, devised workaround for physical problems, etc.) when compromised (damaged/changed for the worse) is meant.
Concerning (in reference to/ about) used when Worrisome (a matter for concern) is meant.
Confidant (a person you confide your secrets to) instead of Confident (being self-assured/bold/daring)
Conscious (awake) instead of Conscience (moral sense)
Costumers (people who design theatrical costumes) when Customers (people who make purchases) is meant.
Crumbled (reduced to crumbs/small particles) when Crumpled (compacted roughly/swiftly into a smaller area- as when a standing person falls to their knees) is meant.
Currant (type of berry) where Current (stream of water/present time) is meant.

Decedent (a dead person) instead of Descendant (offspring- a living thing with a particular ancestor, or an inanimate device,system, etc. developed from an earlier, more basic version.)
Decent (morally proper) instead of Descent (go lower/fall)
Decimating (originally & literally the death of one-tenth of a population, but now shifted to mean destruction of most of a group) used where Devastating/Destroying, etc. is meant. You can't decimate a single anything/anyone. You need multiple subjects for it to make sense.
Deep-seeded (meaningless) when Deep-seated (below surface so far as to be unnoticeable on casual view) or Deep-rooted (firmly fixed or held, often referring to ideas or principles.) is meant.
Depreciation (loss in value due to age or wear) where Deprivation (being denied something necessary- E.G. 'sleep deprivation') is meant.
Dessert (sweet served after meal) when Desert (dry place, usually hot, although there are cold deserts) is meant.
Diffused (spread widely) when Defused (prevented an explosive situation) is meant.
Dilated (opened WIDE- usually referring to the pupils of the eyes- there are very many causes for this-reaction to darkness/strong emotion/sexual excitation/fear/attraction/head trauma/many drugs incl. alcohol/antihistamines/decongestants/scopalomine/eye test drops, various toxins incl. jet fuel/poison mushroom/chloroform) often misused where Constricted/Contracted/Pinpoint pupils (reaction to bright light/opiates/nerve toxins/some types of brain damage) are meant. (If nothing else, remember pupils Dilate in the Dark to avoid the most common misuse.)
Discerning (having/showing good judgement, aware, perceptive) when Disconcerting (upsetting, disturbing, unsettling) is meant. E.G. : Discerning how disconcerting the cat's stare was, his host put the cat in the other room so his guest could relax.
Discrete (means separate, individual) often used where it should be Discreet (being prudent, self-restrained, modest, respecting privacy)
Dismal (gloomy, dreary, miserable) used when Dismissal (made to leave/fired from job/rejected) is meant.
Dissemble (give false appearance/lie) when disassemble (take apart) is meant.
Dominate (to rule/govern or control) used when Dominant (commanding/controlling/superior- in particular used when one of a pair of body parts is more effective, or more utilized) Ex: The lion dominates the veldt. My left hand is dominant, so I write with it.
Drug (to dose with chemicals) used as the past tense of Drag (to forcibly move) which should be Dragged.

Eek (mouse squeak sound) used when Eke (to get with great effort) is meant. (As in the saying 'eke out a living').
Eminent (well known- usually respected for particular skill or knowledge) when Imminent (due to occur soon -often an impending threat) is meant.
Equivocate (be indecisive/waver between two or more options) when Equal or Equivalent (equal to/ can be substituted for) is meant.
Eschew (avoid/shun) when Exile/Evict/Eject (to force movement away from current position) is meant.
Exacerbated (made worse, often in reference to a situation) when Exasperated (extremely annoyed) is meant.
Except (but/ or to omit) when Accept (receive) is meant and vice versa.(Also Expect (anticipation) sometimes instead of Except.)
Expansive (large) used where it should be Expensive (costly).
Explicative (explaining) used where Expletive (curse word) should be.

Fairing (part added to exterior of vehicle- plane/boat/motorcycle, etc. to reduce drag) when Faring (getting along/traveling) is meant.- ex: How is the patient faring, after surgery?)
Feint (pretending/deceptive blow/movement/action against an opponent) when Faint (weak (feeble/pale colored/diluted/quiet,etc.)/falling unconscious) is meant.
Few/Fewer (when speaking of a countable item) where Less (when speaking of uncountable things) is meant. Ex: Iron Man has fewer missiles in his suitcase armor, which is less powerful than other Marks.
Flare (burst of fire or light/eruption/sudden intensification) where Flair (stylishness/aptitude) is meant.
Forth (onward/outward/forward) used where it should be Fourth (the number after third).

Gage (challenge/symbol of challenge to combat often in the form of a cap or glove thrown down/archaic meaning= valuable item left as pledge of good faith) when Gauge (device for measuring/or standard measurement, especially diameter or thickness) is meant. Some common uses include distance between rails of a train track, and the diameter of gun barrel expressed as the number of spheres of shot of the same diameter that can be made from 1 pound (454g) of lead. E.G. A 12-gauge shotgun is one where 12 spheres of shot that would fit in the barrel could be made from 1 pound of lead. Gage can be a variant spelling for gauge in some technical usage, but I've never read it properly used in that sense in fanfic.

Gifted (talented) used where Given (bestowed as a gift/transferred ownership) is meant.
Gollum (proper name of Tolkien's Hobbit turned monster) when Golem (Magically animated clay humanoid monster) is meant.
Grill (to cook over a open fire/coals on a metal rack, the rack, or to interrogate intensely) when Grille (a grating, esp. one on the front of a car, colloquially the front of a person) is meant.
Grizzly (mingled gray/brown hair, or a type of bear) used where it should be Grisly (bloody/horrifying).

Heals (cures/recovers) used where Heels (back of foot/part of shoe that supports the back of foot) is meant. Note: Achilles' Heel refers to a single vulnerable place in an otherwise invulnerable person/thing/plan, etc., from the legend of Achilles' -dipped in the river Styx as an infant in an attempt by his mother to make him invulnerable- however, she held him by one heel, leaving that part mortal.

Hoard (meaning collection, generally in excess) used where it should be Horde (a large group of individuals- nearly always people)
Hold up (delay/robbery) when Holed Up (hiding/waiting in secure place) is meant.

Immanent (inherent/also religious meaning-present everywhere referring to God) when Imminent (threatening to happen/likely to occur soon) is meant.
Impute (to suggest responsibility/cause for something) when Input (something put in to cause an effect- information/advice to make a decision, data for electronic device) is meant.
Infectively (not really a word- if it was it'd mean acting in a manner capable of causing pathogenic disease) when effectively (virtually/ essentially/efficiently/skillfully) is meant.
It's (contraction of it is) used where Its (belonging to it) should be. (And often its is used where it's should be.) Like his, hers, yours, theirs, whose, and ours, its is a possessive that doesn't take an apostrophe. (Have also seen many plural nouns wrongly apostrophied.).

Jam (food) used where Jamb (part of door frame) should be.
Jest (joke) used where Gist (the essential part of something) should be.

Kettle (cooking pot) used when Cattle (cows/animals raised for food/people compared to food animals) is meant.
Knock (strike hard esp. to make a loud noise/the noise itself) used when Nock (place notch at back of arrow to bowstring.) is meant. (nock is also: the notch at either end of a bow to hold the string, the notch at the back of an arrow to hold the string, and the part of the arrow that contains that notch.)

Lamb (young sheep) used instead of Lam (as in the the phrase 'on the lam' to evade capture by police/organized crime, prob. lam originally meant 'beat' so 'on the lam' is related to 'beat it' meaning to flee hastily.)
Lead (the metal/guide forward/cause to follow) used where Led (past tense of the verb 'to lead') or Leads (present tense of the verb 'to lead') is meant. EG: This path led to the lead mine. Also correct would be: This path leads to the lead mine. INCORRECT: This path lead to the lead mine.
Lent (giving away something temporarily) when Leant or Leaned (reclined at an angle) is meant.
Lightening (becoming paler or less heavy) used where Lightning (bolt of electricity during a storm) should be
Liquidates (sells assets often to pay creditors/ murders) when Liquifies (melts/turns to liquid) is meant.
Lively hood (meaningless) when Livelihood (profession/way you earn your living) is meant.
Lob (to throw upward at low velocity/ toss out a casual remark) when Lop (to cut off) is meant.
Lose (to fail) when Loose (slack/not tight) meant
Lowly (of low rank/humble/plain) when Softly (as speech) is meant. (Language evolves, and lowly *can* mean to speak softly so this is not *wrong*, but this is currently an uncommon meaning which jars me out of the story [particularly as it can be confused with a typo for 'slowly']. I much prefer 'softly' or 'quietly' for this usage.)


Making due (doesn't mean anything- there is no proper use for this) should be Making do (as in the old saying 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without')
Manacles (metal restraints for hands) used when Leg-irons (metal restraints for feet) are meant.
Manor (stately residence) when Manner (style or way something is done) is meant.
Mantel (shelf above a fireplace) when Mantle (a cloak- can be figurative, as mantle of darkness/protection, etc.) is meant.
Manuel (a male name) when Manual (done by hand/a handbook/instruction guide) is meant.
Masseuse (a female massage-therapist) when Masseur (a male massage-therapist) is meant. (Masseur may possibly refer to a female, but masseuse can't be a man.)
Mid-drift (in the middle of floating? Is this actually a word?) when Midriff (waist/stomach area) is meant.
Might (strength) when Mite (small/small amount) is meant.
Millage (lined edge of a coin) when it should be Mileage (distance/wear accompanying distance traveled)
Minorly (not an accepted word) when Minimally or Slightly (to a small extent) is meant.
Minuet (a stately dance popular in 17th & 18th centuries) when Minute (60 seconds) is meant.
Motherload (not a word) when Mother lode (main vein of ore, esp. gold or silver/rich or abundant source) is meant.
Mustered (assembled troops together) when Mustard (spicy yellow food spread) is meant.

Objectively (unbiased/based on facts/impersonal) when it should be Subjectively (personal/individual/based on feelings or emotions, not facts- may actually be untrue- 'Subjectively, MarySue considered her eyes a sparkling lavender shot with flashes of silver, but objectively, they were mid-gray'.
Obstinately (stubbornly/inflexibly) when ostensibly (outward appearance covering up something else) is meant.
Outer body experience when 'Out of body experience' (the neurological sensation of being separated from your body and observing yourself) is meant.

Pallet (wooden platform for transport of goods designed for forklift use) when Palate (roof of mouth/sense of taste) is meant.
Parlor (a reception room) when Pallor (abnormally pale skin, usu. sign of shock or illness) is meant.
Passed (moved beyond) often confused with Past (the opposite of the future/elapsed/done/*being* beyond in time or location). Examples: 'He passed me' and 'He walked past me' are both correct, but 'He walked passed me' and 'He past me' are both wrong. Until you get the hang of it try mentally replacing 'passed' with 'moved beyond' and 'past' with 'beyond' and see if that helps you develop your word-sense.

Peak (the highest point, esp. of a mountain) confused with Peek (look surreptitiously) or Pique (a fit of pique =annoyed, curiosity piqued =intrigued)
Peal (sound a bell makes) when it should be Peel (remove, as taking off clothing or starting a car so fast a layer of tire rubber is 'peeled' off.).
Perimeter (outer boundary/border) when Parameter (a constant/limited factor/guideline to follow) is meant.
Per say (doesn't mean anything- there is no proper use for this) should be Per se (from Latin, meaning 'in itself/intrinsically')
Plain (ordinary/basic) when Plane (aircraft) is meant.
Platelet (a blood cell) when Palate (discriminating sense of taste) is meant.
Plum (a fruit) instead of Plumb (correctly/absolutely -from plumb bob, carpentry tool using gravity to measure verticality, also measure of water depth, & connecting pipes in building)
Poll (a vote) when a Pool (as in betting pool) is meant.
Pooches (dogs) when Pouches (pocket type containers) is meant.
Preforming (deciding or shaping ahead of time) when Performing (to act/carry out an action) is meant.
Preposition (connecting word shows relationship between noun and other word-such as: with, at, by, to, in, for, from,of and on) when Proposition (an offered bargain) is meant.
Principle (moral rules) when Principal (school official) is meant. And the other way 'round.
Prostatic (referring to the prostate gland) when Prosthetic (an artificial body part) is meant.
Prostrate (lying face downward) when Prostate (bit of internal male anatomy) meant- (if you want someone lying face upward, use Supine)
Purposing (using something/making something ready for use) when Proposing (making a suggestion/an offer of marriage) is meant.
Puss (alternate name for domestic cat) when Pus (discharge from infection) is meant.

Queue (a line of people, or a thin braid of hair) when Cue (a hint or the stick used when playing pool/billiards) is meant.
Quite (very) when it should be Quiet (silent)

Raise (to lift) when Raze (to level to the ground/demolish) is meant.
Read (gain meaning from written words) when Red (the color) is meant.
Reign (to rule) when it should be Rein (controlling strap on a horse's bridle) as in the phrase 'free rein' meaning you are allowed to decide your own path. or 'take over the reins' meaning you are guiding something/someone (Unfortunately this was done incorrectly in the Iron Man movie during the newspaper/clipping retrospective of Tony Stark's life, so it's canon. But still wrong.)
Reign(to rule) when it should be Rain (precipitation)- as in the phrase 'right as rain' (the origin of the phrase is obscure, but it is RAIN).
Relaying (passing on/laying down again) when Relying (depending on/counting on support) is meant.
Remorseless (merciless, relentless) when Unrepentant (not regretting misdeeds) is meant. This is a very understandable error, because Unrepentant means Not Remorseful. Unfortunately turning 'ful' to 'less' doesn't neatly invert the meaning. English is often illogical.

Repel (push away) when Rappel (descending on a belayed rope) is meant.
Reproduced (created from another/copied) when Reciprocated (replied to/responded to/in reaction to) is meant.
Reseeded (planted seeds again) when Receded (diminished/faded by distance or time) is meant.
Rights (as in power/privilege) when Rites (ceremony) is meant. EG: Rites of Passage (coming of age ceremony, official or unofficial).
Rings (circles/jewelry worn on fingers) when Wrings (made a twisting motion with the hands, as if twisting a washcloth to squeeze out water) is meant.
Rodgers (Captain America's name is Steve Rogers)
Role (part a person portrays, as a role in a play) when Roll (to move/something that rolls up-such as a reel of duct tape) is meant.
Rouge (a shade of red) when Rogue (feral/wild loner) is meant.
Rustic (rural/simple/plain) when Russet (reddish brown) is meant. (Oddly, russet at one time could mean rustic/homely, but that's archaic, and I don't believe it ever worked the other way, with 'rustic' meaning the color reddish brown).

Scolding (act of verbally punishing) when Scalding (extremely hot water) is meant.
Scrapped (thrown away as trash) when Scraped (thin layers removed) is meant.
Scrapping (fighting) when Scraping (removing thin layers) is meant.
Secret (not publicly known/not meant to be publicly known) when it should be Secrete (hidden away/to hide)
Segue (continue on to something different without pausing) when Segway (a two wheeled self-balancing one person vehicle) is meant.

Seize (grab) when Cease (stop) is meant. EG: Seize fire (grab flames) when Cease fire (stop shooting is meant). Note: Ceasefire is a truce- temporary pause in warfare.
S.H.E.I.L.D. should be S.H.I.E.L.D. really, they did form the acronym correctly to form the word shield.
Shoe-in mispelling of Shoo-in (certain to win) originally the winner in a fixed horse race, apparently from 'shoo' to drive in a chosen direction by noise and gestures.
Shoes/Shoeing (footwear/applying horseshoes to a horse) when Shoos/Shooing (to impel into motion by saying 'shoo' -often metaphorically) is meant.
Shoot (to fire a weapon/a plant sprout) when Chute (a channel to slide down/a parachute) is meant.
Shown (revealed/visible) when it should be Shone (emitted light) or Showed (past tense of show).
Site (place/or website) when it should be Sight (vision/seeing).
Solider (denser) often appears when Soldier (military person) is meant.
Soul (spirit/essence) when Sole (lone/single/undivided) is meant.
Souls (inner spirits) when Soles (bottom of the feet) is meant.
Sown (scattered seeds) when Sewn (stitched together) is meant.
Span (a length, often referring to a bridge) when Spun (turned in a quick arc) is meant.
Sparing (showing mercy/meager) when Sparring (fighting as training) is meant.
Specks (very small bits of matter) when Specs (abbreviation for specifications) is meant.
Straight laced (meaningless) when strait-laced/straitlaced (excessively modest/prudish/extremely proper in manners, morals or opinion) is meant.
Straight jacket (meaningless) when strait-jacket/strait jacket (long sleeves garment used to restrain a person. Note: Strait refers to a narrow body of water, or a difficult 'tight' situation. Strait in the context of straitjacket and straitlaced means 'tight/confined/narrow' not 'unbending/without curves', as straight would mean.

Subtly (delicately/unobtrusively/finely defined -adverb) (ex: He subtly slid the message under the door.) when Subtlety (the quality of being subtle-noun) is meant. (Ex: His subtlety won him friends in high places.)
Suite (this is a group of rooms, often in a hotel) not a Suit of Clothes, or Suit of Armor (or suit of playing cards.)
Summersault (not a word) when Somersault (acrobatic roll) is meant.
Supper (main meal of the day) when Super (extraordinary) is meant. A 'Supper Soldier' presumably wins a lot of 'all you can eat' contests.
Symbols (images representing something) when Cymbals (musical instruments-metal disks you bang together) are meant.

Taught (gained/given knowledge) when it should be Taut (held tight/under tension, like a bowstring or tendon).
Taunt (to tease maliciously) when it should be Taut (held tight/under tension, like a bowstring or tendon).
Teaming (acting as a unified group) when Teeming (full of, or swarming, as bees do) is meant.
Temperance (moderation and self-restraint/abstinence from liquor) when Temper (anger) or Temperamental (overly sensitive or irritable) is meant.
Then (refers to time-eg. 'then he went home') often confused with Than (comparing things-eg. 'stronger than' 'more than') (Stronger then would mean strength increase with time, More, then would mean add more at this time)
Threw (propelled/tossed) when Through (intersecting/going between/finished) is meant.
Throws (propels/tosses) when Throes (intense or violent struggles) as in the phrase 'throes of passion' is meant.
Ticks (bloodsucking spiders) when Tics (involuntary movements) is meant. Eg: Nervous ticks are emotionally perturbed parasites.
Tombs (buildings or underground chambers for the dead) when Tomes (Books, esp. large or scholarly) is meant.
Too (also/excess) used instead of To (has nearly 30 meanings- most to do with location/motion/ relationships between objects or persons but never means 'also' or 'excess').
Tow the line (pull a rope, as in a tow-path barge) when Toe the line (follow the rules/stand poised at the starting line of a race.) is meant.
Transgression (offense/crime) when Transaction (exchange of goods/purchase/sale) is meant.
Trashing (throwing away) when Thrashing (repetitive frantic movement) is meant.
Trough (long narrow shallow container for feed/water animals, a long, low depression, a low point) when Through ('going through'/complete/non-stop as 'through ticket'/because, etc ) [through has a lot of meanings, but none are the same as Trough] is meant.
Try And (if you're trying, you can't be sure you can do it, if you're sure you don't 'try' you just 'do') when Try TO should be used. (I would allow 'try and try again' where you were talking about something that you knew would take more than one attempt).
Trail (path) when Trial (testing/legal proceedings) meant.

Unfreeze --- really if 'Defrost' doesn't please you, 'Thaw' is also a perfectly good word, you don't need to invent one.

Vaulted (an arched ceiling room, or to have leaped using either a pole, or your hands) when Vaunted(boasted about/highly praised) is meant.
Vein (blood vessel) when Vain (overly proud/useless) is meant, as in the phrase 'tried in vain'.
Veritably (genuinely/accurately/can be proven true) when Virtually (apparently/nearly/almost/seemingly, but not in fact) is meant.
Venerable (honorably old) when Vulnerable (able to be damaged) is meant.
Vice (bad habit/immoral conduct) when Vise (tool used to clamp objects together/strong grip) is meant.
Viscous (thick, like syrup) when Vicious (malicious, evil) is meant.
Vocal Chords (chord is music notes played at the same time) when Vocal Cords (2 bands of elastic muscle tissue in the throat) is meant.
Vocation (avowed lifeswork) when Vacation (holiday getaway) is meant.


Wail (cry of distress) or Wale (narrow raised ridge, as of whip strokes, or surface of corduroy) when Whale (beat savagely-usually 'whale on') is meant.
Wait (pause) when Weight (heaviness) is meant.
Waive (refrain from using a right/claim/enforcing a rule) when Wave (hand gesture/moving swell of water) is meant.
Wander (move aimlessly) when Wonder (amazement/awe) meant.
Wane (to lessen/fade) used when Wan (pale- often used for an ill person or something weak, as a faint smile) is meant.
Ware (merchandise/goods/pottery) used when Wear (to be clothed in/carry/display/break down through use or exposure) is meant.
Waste (garbage) used when Waist (middle of torso) meant.
Waylaid (attacked from ambush) used when Laid Up (confined to bed when ill) is meant.
Weary (tired) when Wary (cautious/expecting trouble) meant.
Were (past tense of to be) used when Where (location) is meant.
Wet (to dampen/something which is dampened, when Whet (to sharpen- as 'to whet your appetite') is meant.
Whale (large oceanic mammal) when Wail (cry of distress) is meant.
Whelp (young dog) used when Welt (raised ridge as in cloth or injured skin) is meant.
Whine (high-pitching complaining noise/making such a noise) used when Wine (fermented grape juice) is meant.
Whipping (beating) when Wiping (cleaning esp. with a cloth) is meant.
Whole (entire) when Hole (gap) meant, also Whole Up (meaningless), when Hole Up (to hide) meant.
Who's (who is) sometimes confused with Whose (belonging to who)
Wondering (speculating curiously/ in awe ) when Wandering (moving in an aimless fashion) meant.
Wonton destruction/behavior (wonton is a food) should be Wanton destruction/behavior (reckless/often means sexually reckless).
Wretch (pathetic person/creature) confused with Retch (vomit/ come close to vomiting).


Yoke (crossbar with U-shaped pieces used to harness draft oxen/to harness to a task) when Yolk (the yellow part of an egg) is meant.
Your (possessive) instead of You're (you are).

Date: 2015-04-06 04:23 pm (UTC)
reapermum: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reapermum
Don't forget Toe the line = come up to the mark, you don't tow it.
And I've noticed an increasing tendency to confuse ancestors and descendants, who won't necessarily be dependents.

Date: 2015-04-06 07:06 pm (UTC)
vera_j: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vera_j
Oh dear, oh dear!!! This is a treasure for an eternal learner of English!!! Well, it pleases me that I have never confused ancestors for descendants.:-)
Thank you - I have copied it and I am going to study it seriously.

Date: 2015-04-06 07:18 pm (UTC)
vera_j: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vera_j
*Grin*
I know too well - it is good to have this one, it is not long and I will not lose my concentration. I have some fat books called Thesaurus with similar examples but these are FAT and I use them only rarely. Because I have you and other flist here, hee hee!!!
BTW well done with your shopping!!!

Date: 2015-04-07 07:16 am (UTC)
vera_j: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vera_j
Yes, Amazon is often impossible. And for me, there is another problem - their postage. You pay five-times more than the price of the item - sometimes even more!That´s why I don´t buy second-hand things there.

Date: 2016-02-12 11:48 pm (UTC)
sallymn: from a poster for Alice by Jan Svankmajer (Default)
From: [personal profile] sallymn
A proper thesaurus IS big (there are several good ones online) but wonderful for helping with vocab, and not just for people learning English :) I have several (and the biggest is a proper doorstop sized one, which weighs a ton and I read for pleasure)

Another good resource (though they tend to be less wide-ranging) is a reverse dictionary - when you know what something means but the word just won't come.

Date: 2016-02-12 11:39 pm (UTC)
sallymn: (words 1)
From: [personal profile] sallymn
Oh yes, the woes of using the wrong (but still a real work that Spellcheck won't catch) word... I know it all too well. And see it all too often :( Lose/loose seems to be a common one at the minute and is totally my bugbear.

And oh yes, I know ALL about (as an Anglo-Australian with fandoms from both sides of the Atlantic) about the gulf between English and American English... I do my best to muddle through and try to just keep Australianisms out.

I have several usage books I can consult (and love dearly, being me) when I'm unsure - the problem is of course when one is NOT unsure, one knows absolutely and without a doubt that one is right, and one, err.... isn't.

What gets me is when they can't even get the spelling and language right in the title and summary... sure way to make me NOT click.

Though it is true that we have for many many years gotten innocent enjoyment out of such bloopers in print (a favourite of mine is a fanfic writer who kept mixing up "carnal" and "cardinal")

Date: 2016-02-13 10:15 pm (UTC)
sallymn: (reading 1)
From: [personal profile] sallymn
Yep, both of those are a clear warning that the fic is going to give me virtual toothache if I'm silly enough to read it.

It is true some fandoms are worse than others, of course... a couple I've only dipped a toe into, I ran screaming from (no names)
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