Make sure to use the right word

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We’ve often heard famous people being quoted using the wrong words during interviews, and sometimes making up their own words. This is quite common in business writing and everyday speech, and is often due to ignorance, haste or carelessness on the speaker’s behalf.

Accuracy is an essential element in communication. This means using the right word at the right time. When writing (or speaking), it is important to think clearly about what you want to say and then find the right words to express your ideas. When you examine your writing, take a look at different words and ask yourself, “Is this the right word to express what I want to say?”


Homonyms are words that are pronounced alike but spelled differently. They are also the source of many common misuses of words in written documents, as spellcheckers often ignore these words that are spelled correctly. Common homonyms are listed below (there are many more listed here). Make sure that you use the right one when you write.

  • coarse / course
  • council / counsel
  • its / it’s
  • led / lead
  • new / knew
  • piece / peace
  • principal / principle
  • right / write
  • seen / scene
  • site / cite
  • their / there / they’re
  • threw / through
  • to / too


Malapropisms are ridiculous uses of words that result from confusing two words that are similar in sound but have different spelling and meanings. Some commonly confused words are listed below. Make sure that you know what each word means before you use it.

  • allusion / illusion
  • apathetic / pathetic
  • deciding / decisive
  • elicit / illicit
  • momentary / momentous
  • perpetuate / perpetrate
  • populace / populous
  • precede / proceed

Words that don’t / shouldn’t exist

And then there are words that don’t actually exist, although they are so commonly misused that they have become part of the language. Can you say irregardless, refudiate, or anyways? Please don’t.

Do you need help with finding the right words? Let me know –

David Gargaro

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