20 Misused Words and What They Really Mean

A friend tried using a word the other day thinking it meant something else. He misused the word that day and it made me think, wow, I wonder how many words have I misused on my blog? And how many bloggers have commonly misused words on their blogs?

I’ve learned that this can be disrespectful sometimes to break the rules of grammar online, but it’s not cool if you’re not keeping your readers’ attention. Again that’s the whole point of having a blog—you want your readers to read your articles.

After doing a thorough research I found more than a few commonly misused words. Be sure to check your blog posts to make sure it’s not costing you the attention of your visitors. You’ll find some of these misused words interesting.

Accept/Except

Accept means to agree with. Except means apart from.

Adage

Adage is used with the word old. An adage is a short, yet memorable, saying that holds some important fact of experience that is considered true by many people, or has gained its credibility through its long use.

Complementary/Complimentary

You’ve probably seen this lot of times and not even noticed it. Complementary mean something that goes together, like someone or something go well together. Complimentary means something nice you say to another person, or an extra gift you give someone.

Disassemble/Dissemble

Disassemble means to take something apart. Dissemble means “to tell lies or liar”.

e.g./i.e

e.g means “for example”. i.e means that is.

Example:

Cars with big horse power go fast, e.g Ferraris’.

Charly’s The Dancer is named after it’s protagonist, i.e, Charles Miguel.

Hang

Hang means to hang someone or something in the present, one uses the same form.

Hopefully

Hopefully grrr…I know I’m guilty of using this word incorrectly so many times. It means how something is done or how someone feels.

Examples:

Correct: We don’t have dip to go with the chips? Hopefully, Miguel is getting dip on his way back.

Incorrect: Hopefully, it won’t rain. Because nobody is going to think that the weather is hopeful.

It’s/its

It’s means a contraction that you can use instead of it is or it has. Its means “belonging to”.

Literally

In lamens terms it means exactly what you’re saying is not metaphorical or figurative.

“You’re literally getting it for free”

Probably not, if you still have to pay something. (Something salesman-like to say when they’re reimbursing the customer with gifts or mail-in rebates)

Principal / Principle

Principal means the first when used as a noun; but it means of most importance if used as an adjective. Principle means a fundamental truth when noun, a law, or some kind of rule of some sort.

Won’t/wont

Won’t is just a contraction for “will not”.  Wont means accustomed or inclined to if an adjective. If used as a noun it means “habit of custom”.

Examples:

  • He took a job in the morning, as was his wont.
  • He won’t let her do her homework.

You’re/your

Jeez these two words always sound the same to me and my girlfriend aka the editor always corrects me. They don’t mean the same thing. You’re is the contraction to “you are”, and your means “belonging to you”. Best way to correct it is to reread the sentence and see if it can be expanded correctly to you’re or shorten to your.

You could share your own words that you misuse sometimes, don’t be ashamed, if you’re foreign like me you know you probably do. But it’s fine that’s why we’re here—to learn. I would hope that you guys will let me know when I write something that doesn’t make sense to you.

P.S. If you ever read a blog post and you’re not sure it means what you think it means, email me, throw some tomatoes at me or just boo me, that’s the only way I’m going to get better at writing.

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  • Here are a couple I’ve often noticed:

    Where: Describes location as in, “I wonder where I left my keys.”

    Wear: Describes what you do with clothing as in, “I like to wear sweaters.”

    Were: Doesn’t sound the same as the others, but I see a lot of people using this when they really mean “where.” It should be a form of “to be” as in, “They were rock climbing.”

    Oh, and two others I just thought of that used to give me fits: affect vs. effect.

    Affect: a verb meaning “to influence or change” as in, “She affected him negatively.”

    Effect: a noun meaning the “consequence or result” as in, “She has a negative effect on him.”

    Tricky stuff… thanks for the pointers on your words too. A couple I hadn’t considered in there, like “hopefully.”

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • Hey Marshall it’s been a long time…anyway thanks for sharing those extra words.

      I tell you I didn’t know how many mistakes I made until my girlfriend, which is a good reader and editor told me about it.

  • Jon

    Here you have the classics:

    their / they’re / there

    Their: shows possession. Example: Their dogs are well-behaved.

    They’re: contraction of “they are” Example: They’re not home right now.

    There: may be used for location. Example: Set the bag over there.

    Good post. We can all benefit from a refresher to avoid these common mistakes.