Someone asked me the other day if I had an easy way to remember when to use “then” and when to use “than” in a sentence. The only suggestion I could give her was what I learned in elementary school; Than is used to compare, such as, “I like apples more than oranges.” Then indicates time, as in “I’m going to the store and then I’m going to the gym.”
Our conversation turned to other words, such as there, their, and they’re, and to, two, and too.
- Use to as a preposition before a noun or as an infinitive before a verb; Use too as a synonym for also or a word describing excessiveness; and Use two to spell out the number 2.
- There refers to a place; They’re is a contraction of “they are”; Their is the possessive pronoun.
But these are common errors that occur every day. The words that I have the most problems with are further, farther, judgment, embarrassment, occurrence, accommodation, noticeable, harass, inoculate, dilemma, argument, calendar, unlovable, separate, and others.
- When the base word ends in an e, the e is dropped before the -able ending is added (e.g. advise; advisable or inflate; inflatable). When it ends in a consonant,the consonant is doubled (e.g. forget; forgettable or regret; regrettable). BUT–
- If the letter before the final e is a c or g, (such as in notice and outrage) we need to keep the e before a suffix that begins with a, o or u. Therefore, the correct spellings are noticeable and outrageous.
- Use farther for physical distance and further when speaking figurative. For instance, “How much farther do we have to go?” vs “I would like to study this case further.”
Spell check is great, but because it’s not 100 percent accurate, we shouldn’t rely on it. I keep a list of misspelled words in a word document on my desktop, so I’ll always know how they are spelled. Every time I find a word that I have to look up, I add it to the list.
Spelling correctly is important for everyone; students, business professionals, and anyone who writes emails or posts on social media. But for someone who has made writing their life, it’s imperative.
Everyone makes mistakes; but when every other word is misspelled, you lose the respect of your reader. And that is something I do my best to avoid.
I am still in the process of editing “Mya’s World,” and have caught a few typos, even though I use spell check religiously. These words aren’t actually misspelled; they are real words that are used incorrectly, a byproduct of thinking as I’m writing. Or writing what I’m thinking.
That’s why they call it a “rough” draft.