Questions regarding words/phrases which are commonly confused with one another

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21
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between “lay” and “lie”?

How do I know when to use lay and when to use lie, and what are the different forms of each verb? I'm always getting them confused.
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it absolutely necessary to use “than” over “then” in a comparison?

Do you think you are smarter then me? While this question should be using than...I have to wonder if this is a debatable topic within English or is this cut and dry? If this specific instance is ...
27
votes
2answers
12k views

When I should use “assure” vs. “ensure” vs. “insure”?

When is it appropriate to use assure vs. ensure vs. insure?
6
votes
3answers
5k views

“Emigrant” vs. “immigrant”

While studying one word substitution I came across these two words, what I understood till now is like this: Emigrant: One who leaves his own country to reside to another. Immigrant: A person who ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

“There’s” or “There are”?

I wanted to get the usage of There’s clarified. I have read sentences like: There’s a lot of projects on that topic. It appears to me that There’s applies to a lot of projects, rather than to ...
25
votes
8answers
50k views

Is it correct to say Person A is the “spitting image” or the “splitting image” of Person B?

I understand that when trying to describe a person who has a resemblance to another, the common term is spitting image. As in: Person A is a spitting image of Person B. Here's my issue, I've ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is there confusion between depreciated and deprecated?

For at least a year and half, I read "deprecated" as "depreciated", even when writing it down myself, I would spell it as "depreciated", even though pretty much every time I read it, it was spelt ...
31
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between “everyday” and “every day”?

I constantly see "everyday" being used in cases where the writer really means "every day". For example, here's a sentence from Google's eBooks documentation: "New titles are being added to Google ...
7
votes
2answers
12k views

“Alternately” or “alternatively”

What is the difference between alternately and alternatively? I've seen both words being used, but which one is grammatically correct? He could do X. Or alternately, he could do Y. He could do ...
4
votes
3answers
376 views

How to remember the difference between: “Can you try to open this jar?” and “Can you try opening this jar?”

I am well aware that a similar question has been asked in the past, namely “Try to save” or “try saving”. However, I am not totally satisfied by the posted answers. My problem is that, every time I ...
2
votes
4answers
412 views

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? What about other modifiers?

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? Does nightly in nightly business report refer to business? Update: I am still confused. Is relation of non-adverb modifiers different from that of ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “raise” and “rise”?

What is the difference between raise and rise? When and how should I use each one?
28
votes
3answers
77k views

What's the difference between “eldest” and “oldest”?

When should I use "eldest" and when should I use "oldest"? Are the differences semantic or regional? (Or both?) (What got me wondering is the removeEldestEntry() method in Java's LinkedHashMap ...
15
votes
7answers
14k views

“Electronic” vs. “electric”

Most people would refer to computers as being electronic, whereas a flashlight would be described as electric. I know the general difference (electronic devices use transistors?), but what is it ...
4
votes
2answers
485 views

Biweekly, bimonthly, semi-confused [closed]

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion surrounding the meaning of the prefix bi when used with units of time measurement. Biweekly, according to dictionary.com, can mean either "occurring twice ...
13
votes
2answers
43k views

“Farthest” vs. “furthest”

My spellchecker insists on replacing "furthest" with "farthest". I was under the impression that farthest is strictly speaking in terms of distance, whereas furthest is more abstract. A poster on ...
5
votes
2answers
910 views

“Invidious” vs. “Insidious”

Can anyone give me a really short & sharp distinction between these two words? Are they notorious for often getting mixed up?
2
votes
1answer
304 views

Difference between “improvisation” and “extempore” [closed]

What is the difference between improvisation¹ and extempore² and where should one use each of these terms?
1
vote
2answers
6k views

Can “whatever” be split into two words?

I tend to write, "say whatever they want", but I'm always tempted to write "say what ever they want". Is it acceptable to split the word in this context?