Tag Archives: misused words

3 Pairs of Commonly Misused Words



There are some words that are commonly misused. Here I intend to point out some that have drawn my attention recently.

People have a tendency to copy what others say, and so this misuse is to some extent, self-perpetuating. I only wish everyone who misuses these words would read my, and other people’s blogs that point them out. Unfortunaltely, that is not the case, and never will be.

1 Unconsciously/Subconsciously

Unconscious means being unaware of your surroundings, being knocked out.
The boy was knocked unconscious when the football hit him on the head.
Subconscious is a part of the mind that you are unaware of. Thus doing something without awareness doing it, you are doing it subconsciously.
The boy subconsciously brushed a lock of haiar from in front of his eyes.

2. Insure/Ensure

Insure is when you pay money to a third party against the possibility of a particular thing happening. so you will receive recompense if the insured thing happens.
I have insured my house against fire and flood damage.
Ensure. To make sure something does or does not happen.
I will ensure that my daughter does her homework on time.

3. Unkempt/unkept

Here’s one I heard on the news the other day. The item was about graffiti in the city of Brighton. A councillor said “It makes the town look unkept.”

Unkempt. Untidy, scruffy.
When she got out of bed, her hair was all messy and she looked unkempt.
Unkept No one looking after it. Belonging to no one.
I’m not sure this is an actual word, so I looked on line and found it used as an adjective.
Can I buy the unkept land at the side of my house?

I hope you enjoyed reading about these three pairs of words.
I love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment in the comments box.

2 more words that cause confusion (and are driving me insane)



Last month I talked about the words NUMBER and AMOUNT. Today I’m going to talk about some similar words that get confused.
These words are FEWER and LESS.

I say they are similar to the previouys words because the same rules apply. So many people will say something like,
‘There were LESS people at the match this week than last week.’
This is WRONG. IN this case, it should be FEWER.
Just as NUMBER refers to things we count, like people, goals, sheep in a flock, minutes in an hour, items in a shopping trolley etc., so FEWER also refers to those things.
FEWER is a digital word. It refers to things we COUNT.
LESS refers to things we MEASURE. Thus we would have something like,
There is LESS snow today than the same time last year.
or There is less flour in this cake than that one.
BUT There are fewer eggs in this cake than that one.
We MEASURE the flour, but we COUNT the eggs.

Please leave a comment on this post. I love hearing from you, and reblogging would help get the message across to more people and save me from continually shouting at the TV and radio.

2 frequently misused words



There are two words that most people get wrong, these days. Strangely, they do not have similar spelling, nor similar sounds. When they are used wrongly, it grates on me.

Many well-educated people do not seem to be able to get it right, either.

What are these words?

They are Number and Amount.

The word ‘Number’ is rarely misused but ‘Amount’ is. All the time.

Let me try to explain the difference.

NUMBER This refers to, not surprisingly, the number of things.

It is used when we count things. 1,2,3,4,5 etc.

We can also say, for those techies amongst us, it is a digital word.

It tells us how many of something there is.

AMOUNT This refers to a measurement.

It is used when we don’t actually count individual things.
It is an analogue word.

It tells us how much of something there is.

Thus, to say ‘The amount of people at the party was 30′ is wrong. We are counting those people, not measuring them.

However, it is correct to say ‘The amount of rain that fell in October was less than normal.’ We are measuring the rainfall.

I don’t thing I’ve ever heard number used for a measurement, unless it is something like ‘The number of inches of fabric you need is…’, but then it’s counting, not measuring.

I would like this to get to as many people as possible, as I am getting increasingly stressed by this incorrect usage. Please re-blog it for my sanity’s sake.