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Topic: Misused Words
Spell check is a terrific tool, but it’s not perfect. It will tell you when you’ve misspelled a word, but it may not catch the use of a wrong word or phrase. There are a few commonly confused words and phrases. If you know them, you can avoid making those common errors. Here are a few to keep in mind:

your, you’re: “Your” is a possessive pronoun meaning that something belongs to you. “You’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.” So, you’re going to make a mistake if you don’t study your English grammar rules.

then, than: You use “than” when you are comparing two things. A good way to remember the difference is that you use “then” if you tell “when” something happens. Here’s an example. I told Martha she was thinner than Amy, and then she thanked me.

accept, except: Accept means you are receiving something. Except means you are excluding something. I always accept gifts, except when they are given as bribes.

anyway, anyways: This one is easy—anyways is not a word…ever.

couldn’t care less, could care less: The question is do you care or don’t you? Because if you could care less, that means you do care. If you couldn’t care less, you really don’t care at all.

less, fewer: Less means not as great in amount. It refers to something that can’t be counted. If you are referring to something that can be counted, use fewer. A good way to remember it is, “I have less money and fewer dollars.” (Because the general term “money” can’t be counted, but the specific term “dollars” can.)

It’s your turn to edit. Copy the paragraph below and circle each word or phrase from the list above that is used correctly. Cross out the wrong ones. Hint: There are five errors and four correct uses.

Tad accepted Amy’s gift rather then tell her he could care less about being her friend. When she found out he didn’t like her, she said, “Your going to have fewer friends than I.” Then she felt badly about that, so she said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, and anyways, I hope you except my apology.”










Common Core Standard: develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing

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