Reprint edition published in January 2019.
Unlike math and science, writing has very few absolutes. To that end, we’re faced with making choices, and many times those choices are word choices. Since I began teaching technical and business writing in industry years ago, one lesson never grew old an exercise on when to write the right word. Many writers confuse complement when they mean compliment, compose when they
mean comprise, or assume when they mean presume. And hundreds of other mistaken word identities also exist. This Quick reference aims to filter this confusion of words. Remember, writing is much easier to comprehend when the noise around it is eliminated.
Though not inclusive of all word pair mistakes, this book speaks to the common word choices that challenge us daily. This book consists of more than 900 entries and the meanings of more than 2,000 individual words or phrases. Much of the content is based on word problems I’ve witnessed during my 25 years of business writing as well as the misuse commonly found in the online and print media.
If you’re looking for the basic homonyms such as to, too, and two, or here and hear, you won’t find them here. But you will find the basic pronoun possessives (their, they’re, there, who’s and whose, and you’re and your) because they still give us problems. I’ve tried to eliminate obvious synonyms (inedible vs. uneatable, simultaneous vs. concurrently, rare vs. scarce, etc.) and include just word pairs where the word distinction is still important yet challenging.
Note that a few entries may seem trivial and others may seem a bit obscure or obsolete. But overall you’ll find it a good mix of problem words (among vs. between, flounder vs. founder, blatant vs. flagrant), Also included are a few notes on phrases that often lead to problem writing (between you and I, one of the only, and others).
For each entry in this reference, the difference between the words is explained, and in most cases, a short and simple sentence example showing the correct usage is provided. The word definitions provided are intended strictly as guides and not dictionary definitions. They should help you differentiate between the words. Current dictionaries, popular writing books, and reputable style guides were among the many’ resources consulted for this book. The word list is arranged alphabetically according to the first word in the set.
Always think about the words you use. Accuracy in word choice is a key to effective communication. In your daily writing, try to make sure you apply the right word for the right meaning. By doing so, its effect can affect your writing in a positive way.