20. Usage Glossary

a Use a before consonant sounds (a car, a history, a union).
an Use an before vowel sounds (an elk, an X-ray, an herb).

accept (verb) "to take," "to receive": I accept the award gladly.
except (preposition) "not counting": Except for the lack of plumbing, the apartment is perfect; (verb) "to leave out": Please except that package from the group.

adapt (verb) "to adjust": Some people adapt easily to new environments.
adept (adjective) "skillful": She is adept at mastering new tasks.
adopt (verb) "to care for as one's own": He adopts a new image when needed.

advice (noun) "guidance": My doctor gave me sound advice.
advise (verb) "to recommend," "to inform": I often advise her on what to wear.

affect (verb) "to influence": Technology affects people in different ways.
effect (noun) "consequence": It has both positive and negative effects on job performance; (verb) "to bring about," "to cause to occur": Skiing effects a sense of exhilaration.

aid (noun) "assistance": Her role is to provide aid to homeless children; (verb) "to assist": She aids homeless children.
aide (noun) "an assistant": As an aide, she helps in countless ways.

allude "to make reference to": Poets frequently allude to Greek and Roman myths.
elude "to avoid capture": Some poems elude interpretation.

allusion "indirect reference": In his footnotes, Eliot explains the allusions in The Waste Land to readers.
illusion "false appearance": Her weight loss is an illusion.

a lot (always two words) "many": She has a lot of energy.
alot Incorrect spelling of a lot.

all ready "everyone prepared": The students are all ready to explore the Internet.
already "previously": Already, the teacher has assigned the first two chapters.

all right (always two words) "satisfactory," "certainly": It is all right to admit that you are wrong.
alright Incorrect spelling of all right.

all together "everyone in one place": When we put our resources all together, we discovered that we had more than we needed to cover our expenses.
altogether "completely": You have an altogether different reading list.

altar (noun) "place of worship": The altar was decorated with flowers.
alter (verb) "to change": The flowers altered the usual appearance of the church.

among "shared by a group" (usually three or more): They are among the ten best athletes in the school.
between "shared by individuals" (usually two): Tara sat between Julia and Peter.

amount (noun) "quantity of something that cannot be counted": The amount of money needed to fund the project is staggering. (verb) "to equal": It doesn't amount to much.
number (noun) "quantity of something that can be counted": The number of students required for state funding is 750; (verb) "to include, " "to assign a number to": The chorus numbers twenty.

anxious "nervous, worried": I am anxious about my grades.
eager "characterized by enthusiastic interest": I am eager to go on vacation.

any more "no more": We don't want to buy any more property.
anymore "any longer": We don't live here anymore.

anyone "any person": Did anyone come?
any one "any member of a group": Any one of you would be welcome.

anyways Nonstandard for anyway.

anywheres Nonstandard for anywhere.

appraise "to calculate value": The teacher appraises students' abilities at midterm.
apprise "to inform": He apprises them of their strengths and weaknesses.

as (conjunction) "in the way that": The computer didn't work as the instructions said it would.
like (preposition) "similar to": I would prefer a computer like Anna's. Do not use like in place of as or as if in formal writing: They acted as if they were drunk.

ascent (noun) "rising," "advancement": The ascent of the rocket into space was swift.
assent (verb) "to agree": I assent to the compromise; (noun) "agreement": After winning the school board's assent, schools began to include Darwinism in the curriculum.

assistance (noun) "aid": Work-study students provide assistance in the library.
assistants (plural noun) "helpers": The librarian always requests additional student assistants.

bad (adjective) "not good," "sick," "sorry": This is a bad situation.
badly (adverb) "not well": We have performed badly.

bare (adjective) "naked": I like to walk around with bare feet; (verb) "to expose": I bared my soul to the poetry of the moment.
bear (noun) "animal": The polar bear is an arctic resident; (verb) "to carry," "to tolerate": I cannot bear to listen to that music.

bazaar (noun) "marketplace or fair for the sale of goods": On our vacation to Mexico, we visited several local bazaars.
bizarre (adjective) "strange": It was bizarre to run into our neighbors in Mexico.

because of See due to/because of.

beside (preposition) "next to": We sat beside the president of the company.
besides (preposition) "in addition to," "except": Besides the members' spouses, we were the only visitors invited; (adverb) "moreover," "also": I don't want to go to class; besides, I love the park.

between See among/between.

bring "to move an object toward something": Bring your roommate to the party.
take "to move an object away from something": When you exit the train, take your belongings.

can "to be able to do something": With practice, you can learn the difference between can and may.
may "to ask for or be granted permission": You may not use can in this sentence.

capital "city in which the seat of government is located": Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico; (noun) "possessions and their value": If we want more capital, we'll have to raise more money.
capitol "the building that houses the legislature": In Santa Fe, the capitol is shaped like a Zia sun symbol.

censer (noun) "incense burner": The censer gave off a lot of smoke.
censor (verb) "to alter," "to delete": Many critics would love to censor this artist's work; (noun) "one who censors": The censor didn't like my sentence, so he censored it.
censure (noun) "condemnation"; (verb) "to blame," "to condemn": The student government censured me for making that statement.

cite (verb) "to acknowledge": When you quote someone in a paper, be sure you cite the source.
sight (noun) "ability to see," "something that is seen": Wearing an eight-foot feathered headdress, he was a magnificent sight; (verb) "to glimpse": In Memphis last week, Elvis was sighted in the supermarket.
site (noun) "location": The archeological site exposed several layers of human occupation; (verb) "to place": I sited the deer tracks in the forest.

coarse (adjective) "rough": The texture of the fabric is coarse.
course (noun) "path," "unit of study": This is a writing course.

complement (noun) "that which completes": The baby had the full complement of fingers and toes; (verb) "to complete": The printed book complements the online tutorial.
compliment (noun) "expression of admiration": The author paid Carol a compliment; (verb) "to flatter": The author complimented Carol.

conscience (noun) "sense of right and wrong": He reads my stories only because he has a guilty conscience.
conscious (adjective) "aware": He is not conscious of how others react to him.

continual "repeatedly," "over and over": Updating our database is a continual process.
continuous "without interruption": The continuous rivalry between the two of them was harmful.

could care less Nonstandard for couldn't care less.

could of Nonstandard for could have.

council (noun) "advisory or legislative body": The council of elders debated my future.
counsel (noun) "advice": Her counsel was useful; (verb) "to give advice": In the end, they counseled me wisely.

criteria (plural of criterion) "standard for judgment": The criteria for choosing the winner were varied.

data (plural of datum) "facts": The data are here in this research report.

defer "to delay," "to yield": I defer to your judgment.
differ "to disagree," "to be unlike": I beg to differ with you.

deference "respect," "consideration": We turned the music down in deference to those who wanted to sleep.
difference "being unlike": You and I have a difference of opinion.
diffidence "shyness": His diffidence accounts for his lack of a social life.

desert (noun) "dry, barren place": The heat of the desert was fierce; (verb) "to leave": I will not desert my friends.
dessert (noun) "sweet course at the end of a meal": Dessert is my favorite part of any meal.

device (noun) "plan," "piece of equipment": A mouse is a device used to move a pointer in a computer program.
devise (verb) "to think up": Whoever devised the mouse had a great idea.

different from Different from is preferred to different than: His attitude toward studying is different from mine.
different than Use different than when a construction using different from is wordy: I am a different person than I was two years ago.

due to "resulting from": The bags under my eyes are due to stress.
because of "as the result of": My grade in the class dropped because of this assignment.

eager See anxious/eager.

effect See affect/effect.

elude See allude/elude.

eminent "prominent," "important": The professor was eminent in the field.
immanent "operating within reality," "inherent": Knowing which word to use is not an immanent skill — it must be learned.
imminent "about to happen": The test is imminent.

enthused Use enthusiastic: The grammarian was enthusiastic when he praised me for never using enthused.

envelop (verb) "to enclose completely": The mist will envelop us as soon as we enter the rain forest.
envelope (noun) "wrapper, usually for a letter": Place the invitation in the envelope.

every one "each individual": Every one of the athletes was tested for steroid use.
everyone "all": Everyone participated in the talent show.

except See accept/except.

farther "at a greater distance": Ken's rescue team traveled farther than my team did to help the victims.
further "to a greater degree": Ken explained that further travel was necessary to reach those in need of help.

few, fewer "a limited number of countable items": A few of us went to the concert.
little, less "a small quantity of an uncountable item": It will cost less if you make it yourself.

formally "not casually": The rules were formally approved by the city council.
formerly "before": Formerly, there were no guidelines about sorting household trash.

good (adjective) not to be used in place of the adverb well: This plan is good.
well (adverb): The plan will work well.

hanged "killed by hanging": The victors hanged their enemies.
hung "suspended": I hung my clothes out to dry.

hisself Nonstandard for himself.

hopefully "filled with hope": We moved hopefully toward the future. Do not use hopefully to mean "I hope that," "we hope that," and so forth.

human (noun or adjective) "referring to people": To be fallible is to be human.
humane (adjective) "compassionate": The humane treatment of animals is uppermost in Kate's mind.

illusion See allusion/illusion.

immanent See eminent/immanent/imminent.
imminent See eminent/immanent/imminent.

imply "to suggest indirectly": I don't mean to imply that you are wrong.
infer "to draw a conclusion": You may have inferred from what I said that I love you.

incidence "rate of occurrence": The incidence of heart disease among Americans is high.
incidents "occurrences": Many incidents during the Revolution led to American patriot losses.

irregardless Nonstandard for regardless.

its (possessive pronoun) "belonging to it": Its colors were iridescent.
it's contraction for it is: It's a great day.

kind of/sort of Avoid kind of and sort of when you mean "somewhat": The movie was somewhat scary.

later (adverb) "subsequently": We'll play with the kitten later.
latter (adjective) "last mentioned": Of the two stories, I prefer the latter.

lay (verb + object) "to place something": He lay the book on the table.
lie (verb + no object) "to assume or be in a reclining position": He went to his bedroom to lie down.

lead (verb) "to go before": If you lead, we will follow; (noun) "metal," "position at the front": Anthony Hopkins played the lead.
led past participle of lead: When you led us yesterday, we followed you.

less See few/fewer/little/less.

lessen (verb) "to decrease": Your bravery will lessen our fear.

lesson (noun) "something learned by study or experience": That is the lesson I learned from you.

liable "obligated, responsible": The landlord is liable for the roof repairs.
likely "future possibility": Even if the roof isn't leaking now, it is likely to leak in the future.

lie See lay/lie.

like See as/like.

little See few/fewer/little/less.

loose (adjective) "not tight": The bolts on the car door are loose.
lose (verb) "to misplace," "to not win": If we invest poorly, we might lose our money.

many "large number of something countable": Many of our investments will pay off.
much "large number of something uncountable": Much effort was wasted in this endeavor.

may See can/may.

may be (verb) "might be": I may be getting better.
maybe (adverb) "perhaps": Maybe we should open a savings account.

may of Nonstandard for may have.

media Plural of medium: Computers, newspapers, and TV are communications media. Media has also come to have a singular sense in speech. Formally, use the plural.

might of Nonstandard for might have.

much See many/much.

must of Nonstandard for must have.

nowheres Nonstandard for nowhere.

number See amount/number.

number of Number of should be followed by a plural noun: a number of options.

off of Of is unnecessary: Get off the road!

passed (verb) past tense of pass: Roaring down the road, he passed me.
past (adjective) "previous": His past exploits are legendary.

patience (noun) "ability to wait": Have some patience.
patient (adjective) "calm": Be patient; (noun) "someone receiving medical treatment": I was his only patient.

persecute "to harrass": He felt persecuted by her attentions.
prosecute "to bring to trial": She was prosecuted for grand larceny.

personal (adjective) "relating to an individual," "private": I don't care to share details of my personal life.
personnel (noun) "employees": The director of personnel takes all new employees to lunch.

phenomena Plural of phenomenon, "observable facts or events": Like other astronomical phenomena, the eclipse can be easily explained.

plus Do not use plus to join independent clauses; use moreover or in addition to: Your salary in addition to mine will cover our expenses.

precede "to come before": She preceded me into the house.
proceed "to go forward," "to continue": Please, proceed carefully into the room.

prescribe "to order treatment": The doctor will prescribe a medicine to relieve the pain.
proscribe "to forbid": Smoking is proscribed here.

principal (noun) "chief person," "capital sum": We may earn no interest, but we won't lose the principal; (adjective) "most important": The book's principal effect was to change my viewpoint on the economics of ecology.
principle (noun) "rule," "fundamental law": Tornadoes are based upon physical principles.

raise (verb + object) "to lift," "to grow": She raised her arms heavenward; (noun) "increase in salary."
rise (verb + no object) "to get up": Hot air balloons, however, rise more slowly; (noun) "ascent," "hilltop": The rise in temperature was deadly.

respectfully "with respect": We behave respectfully around him.
respectively "in the order named": We saw Kurt, Marian, and Diane, respectively, enter the building.

right (adjective) "correct": Roberta was the right woman for the job; (noun) "something allowed," "location of the right side," "conservative position": It is their right as Americans.
rite (noun) "ceremony": For New Yorkers, the first Yankees game is a rite of passage.

sensual "pleasing to the senses, especially sexual": Don Juan was addicted to sensual experiences.
sensuous "pleasing to the senses, particularly with regard to the arts": The poet's use of sensuous detail helped us see, smell, and taste the food.

set (verb + object) "to place something": I set the dish on the table.
sit (verb + no object) "to be in or assume a sitting position": I will sit here and eat my dinner.

should of Nonstandard for should have.

sight See cite/sight/site.

site See cite/sight/site.

some time (adjective + noun) "span of time": We have some time before the test begins.
sometime (adverb) "at an unspecified time": I will probably feel nervous about it sometime soon.
sometimes (adverb) "now and then," "occasionally": Sometimes I'm funny that way.

somewheres Nonstandard for somewhere.

sort of See kind of/sort of.

stationary (adjective) "not moving": When the wind died, the sailboat was stationary.
stationery (noun) "letter paper": The captain took out her stationery and wrote a letter to her husband.

statue "sculpture": The Venus de Milo is a famous statue.
stature "height," "status": The sculptor had great stature among his peers.
statute "law": The town has many outdated statutes in its civil code.

suppose to Incorrect spelling of supposed to.

take See bring/take.

than (conjunction) used in comparisons: Learning to sail was easier than learning to windsurf.
then (adverb) "at that time," "besides": Then I ran the boat aground.

that Use that for essential clauses: The handbook that we use for English is written by Rodrigues and Tuman.
which Use which for nonessential clauses: The text, which was written by Rodrigues and Tuman, includes suggestions for using a word processor.

their (pronoun) "belonging to them": Their values are not my values.
there (adverb) "in that place": "The mouse is over there!" he screamed; (expletive) used to introduce a sentence or clause: There are some values I accept.
they're contraction for they are: They're probably more comfortable than I am.

theirselves Nonstandard for themselves.

thorough (adjective) "exhaustive": His review of my essay was thorough.
through (preposition) "in and then out": He did not drive through it with his car; (adverb) "completely," "finished": I was soaked through.

to (preposition) "toward": I am going to school.
too (adverb) "in addition," "excessively": I am going to the store, too.
two (noun) "one more than one": I am going to two places.

try and Nonstandard for try to.

unique "one of a kind": Among actors, Jimmy Stewart is unique.

use to Nonstandard for used to.

wear (verb) "to bear or carry on the person," "to cause to degenerate by use": You can wear what you want.
were (verb) past tense of be: You were raised to do the right thing.
where (adverb or conjunction) "in that place": You can go where you want.

weather (noun) "atmosphere": The weather outside is frightful.
whether (conjunction) "if": I don't know whether it will ever be delightful.

well See good/well.

which See that/which.

which/who Do not use which to refer to people; use who: She is the person who helped me the most.

who Use who for subjects and subject complements: I will check to see who is at the door.
whom Use whom for objects: I am the person whom she helped.

who's Contraction of who is: Who's this sweating at the table?
whose (pronoun) possessive form of who: He's the person whose tongue is burning from the chili peppers.

would of Nonstandard for would have.

your (pronoun) "belonging to you": Your cleverness amazes me.
you're Contraction for you are: You're a clever person.