Tools & Tips

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  • Some of the Top Misused Words
  • Vocabulary & Spelling Tips
  • Tips for Editing
  • Some of the Top Misused Words

    a lot, alot
    Alot is not a word.

    affect, effect
    The verb affect means “to influence”; the verb effect means “to produce, accomplish, complete.” The noun effect means the “result.”

    already, all ready
    Already is an adverb meaning “before this time” or “by this time.” All ready is an adjective meaning “fully prepared.”

    anyway, anyways
    Anyways is not a word.

    because, since
    Use because to denote a reason for something. Use since only for a relation in time.

    chose, choose
    Chose is the past tense of the verb choose.

    counsel, council
    The noun counsel means “advice”; when used as a verb it means “to advise.”

    Council refers to a group that advises.

    immigrate, emigrate
    Immigrate means “to come into a new country.” Emigrate means “to go out of one country to live in another.”

    it’s, its
    It’s is the contraction of “it is.” Its is the possessive form of “it.”

    lay, lie
    Lay means “to place.” Lay is also the past tense of lie. Lie means “to recline.”

    personal, personnel
    Personal means “private.” Personnel are people working at a particular job.

    principal, principle
    As an adjective, principal means primary. As a noun, it can mean “school administrator” or “a sum of money.” Principle means “idea or doctrine.”

    stationary, stationery
    Stationary means “not movable”; stationery refers to the paper and envelopes used to write letters.

    to, too, two
    To is a preposition that can mean “in the direction of.” To is also used in the form of an infinitive. Too means “also” or “very.” Two is the number.

    well, good
    If you’re talking about your health, good (adjective) is correct. You feel well (adverb) only when you’re talking about the efficiency with which you feel something.

    who, which, that
    Who refers to people. Which refers to nonliving objects or animals – which should never refer to people. That may refer to animals, people, or nonliving objects.

    your, you’re
    Your is a possessive pronoun. You’re is the contraction for “you are.”

  • Vocabulary & Spelling Tips

    There are about 200,000 English words commonly used today. The best way for your vocabulary to grow is to read, read, read. As your vocabulary grows, so will your reading and comphrension level.

    A Guide to building your vocabuarly

    • Use a thesaurus to discover synonyms for a word or phrase. A word of caution, become aware of the subtle differences between the meanings of the words.
    • Learn common word roots, prefixes and suffixes.
    • Create a vocabulary notebook and jot down all your new words. Include the definition and part of speech (verb, adverb, noun etc.,) for each word.
    • Get into a good habit of refering to your dicitionary when you don’t know a word.

    Spelling Tips

    For many, spelling doesn’t come easy. If you’re having trouble spelling a word, try sounding it out in your mind. Examine every syllable. If you can break a word into smaller parts it may assist you to write out the word. Now, having said that, sometimes there isn’t any logic to the spelling of a word.

    • Learn some basic spelling rules; for example, write i before e except after c; however, be aware of the exceptions.
    • Be patient, becoming a good speller takes time.
    • Never trust your spelling to a spell check program, always carefully proofread.
  • Tips for Editing

    In every writing project there comes a time when you must proofread and edit your work. Make sure the information flows, watch out for glaring errors. Ask yourself, is my work: accurate, clear, concise, complete, well-organized, interesting?

    Here is a checklist.


    • Was I conscious in choosing American or British spelling?
    • Did I check through my entire text for errors?


    • Did I capitalize first words, proper nouns, proper adjectives, first words, languages, races, nationalities etc?


    • Did I use proper verb tenses?


    • Is each sentence punctuated properly?
    • Did I use commas correctly?

    Sentence Structure

    • Did I use a variety of sentence lengths?
    • Did I use a variety of beginnings?
    • Did I pay attention to transitions?

    Word Choice

    • Did I use the correct word (to, too)?
    • Did I use strong verbs?
    • Did I write consistently in an active voice?