31 December 2006

Words and Expressions Commonly Misused

(From Strunk's Elements of Sytle)
Certainly. Used indiscriminately by some speakers, much as others use very, to intensify any and every statement. A mannerism of this kind, bad in speech, is even worse in writing.
Compare. To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances, between objects regarded as essentially of different order; to compare with is mainly to point out differences, between objects regarded as essentially of the same order. Thus life has been compared to a pilgrimage, to a drama, to a battle; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens; it may be compared with modern London.
Effect. As noun, means result; as verb, means to bring about, accomplish (not to be confused with affect, which means "to influence").
However. In the meaning nevertheless, not to come first in its sentence or clause.
The roads were almost impassable. However, we at last succeeded in reaching camp.

The roads were almost impassable. At last, however, we succeeded in reaching camp.
When however comes first, it means in whatever way or to whatever extent.
Less. Should not be misused for fewer.... Less refers to quantity, fewer to number. "His troubles are less than mine" means "His troubles are not so great as mine." "His troubles are fewer than mine" means "His troubles are not so numerous as mine."
Literal, literally. Often incorrectly used in support of exaggeration or violent metaphor.
A literal flood of abuse
A flood of abuse

Literally dead with fatigue
Almost dead with fatigue (dead tired)

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