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More Pet Peeves 




 for Writers





A/An:: The usage depends on the sound of the word that "a" or "an" is placed in front of.  The letter "a" should be placed before all words that start with a consonant sound except the silent "h" and a vowel with a consonant & vowel sound combination.  The word "an" belongs in front of every vowel sound.  This usage is abused on the Internet in an enormous way.
"a": a toy, a situation, a musical event, a choice, a horn ("h" is not silent), a utility pole (consonant & vowel sound combination)
"an": an honorary member (silent "h"), an apple, an embryo

Affect/Effect: I'm still confused by the correct usage of affect and effect.  When I have a need to use one of them, I look it up. 
Affect, always a verb, means to influence, to assume, to pretend, to be given to.
Example of influence: The book will affect my thoughts about holiday decorating.                  
Effect can be both a verb and a noun.  The noun version expresses a result.  The verb version means to cause or bring about.
Example of result (noun): This paper shows the effects of the investigation?
Example of cause (verb): An overthrow will effect a tyranny in that country.

allude means to refer indirectly or casually and is followed by the word "to."
elude means to slip away from; to dodge.

Allusion, delusion, elusion, illusion:
Allusion is an indirect reference or mention.  Example: "Sue made an allusion to the main character in a novel she was reading."
Delusion is a false belief, usually a result of self-deception.  Example: "Sue is experiencing delusions of a life as a royal princess."
Elusion (rarely used word) means an escape.  Example: "Your absence is an elusion of your obligations to the firm."
Illusion (related in meaning to delusion but less likely to be as harmful or serious) refers to a false mental image or idea.  Example: "Sue has illusions that she is a supermodel."

Antagonist is someone who opposes another in a fight.  Example: "The two friends became antagonists on the tennis court."  In literature the antagonist is the opponent of the main character.
Protagonist means first combatant.  A protagonist is the principal or central character against whom an antagonist will conduct a fight.

Capital/Capitol: Capital can be all meanings except a building.  Example: "Sue raised the capital to build a new pool."  Capitol is a building.  Example: "We drove through the capital, passed the state capitol, and got back onto the freeway."

Climactic derives from climax, the final and most forceful one of a series of ideas or events.  Example:  "The exploding bridge was the climactic scene of the movie."
Climatic refers to weather.  Example: "Sue prefers the climatic features of Miami."

Couldn't scarcely/Couldn't hardly: calls for dropping the negative part of the phrase.
He could hardly drive through the blizzard.

Could of: as well as may of, might of, should of, and would of are illiteracies.  Example of correction: I could have done the job alone.

Exceptionable means objectionable.
Exceptional means extraordinary, uncommon, unusual.

Indict means to accuse or charge with a crime.
Indite means to write, compose.

Ingenious means inventive, resourceful, talented, imaginative.
Ingenuous means naive, frank, unsophisticated, artless.
Naive means the same as ingenuous but implies amusement to the user but to the one implied.

Inhuman means cruel; brutal; lacking normal human compassion, pity, sympathy, and kindness.
Unhuman means not human; without the characteristics of human beings.     

Laid is the past tense and past participle of lay - to set down; to put or place in a horizontal position.  Example: Sue laid her blouse on the bed.
Lain is the past participle of lie - to be in a prostrate position.  Example: My pup has lain down by my feet every night this week.

Largely means to a great extent; generally; in great part.  Example: The demonstration was largely done to express the examples of the author.
Chiefly means principally; mainly; essentially.  Example: The intentions are chiefly good ones.

Lay means to place and requires an object.  Lay down the law; lay of the land; lay down one's life; etc..
Lie means to recline and does not require an object.  Lie down on the job; lie low; take lying down; etc..

Leave/Let are interchangeable only when accompanied by the word "alone."  Example: leave me alone.
Leave means to go away from; to cause to remain.
Let means to allow; to permit; to cause.

More easy - You should use the word "easier" and drop the word "more."

More better  - You should use the word "better" and drop the word "more." 

Set means to put; to place.  Example: Would you set the papers on that desk?
Sit means to place oneself.  Example: I'd love to sit next to you.

Use shall in the first person and will in the second and third person to express future time.  I (we) shall talk to you soon.  You (he, they) will go soon.  
Use will in the first person and shall in the second and third person to express c
ommand or determination.  I will enter the room no matter what you tell me.  You shall (must) go.

Theirs versus his/her:
It doesn't make sense to announce that someone is going to their house.  The word "someone" is singular and the word "their" is plural.  
The proper way to say it is:  someone is going to his/her house.  Or if one already knows the sex of the person being talked about, you may limit it to either his or her.

Whether or not:  Usually the or not isn't necessary, however it is necessary when saying: I will go whether you like it or not.  A way to determine whether "or not" is needed, substitute the word "if" for the word "whether" and if the "if" causes a different meaning, then "or not" is needed.

Who/Whom: Use who (or whoever) as the subject of a verb or as a predicate pronoun and use whom (whomever) as the object of a verb or preposition.

Who's is a shortcut for who is.
Whose is the possessive case of the pr
onoun who.

The Nook