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  • Writer's pictureShelby Ruch

Don’t Make These Common Word Choice Mistakes!

When writing, grammar and spelling accuracy are important. You might be tempted to think that using correct grammar isn’t important. Or, it may not come easily to you. But many people judge us based on our grammar, spelling, and syntax. In a world with so many different tools to help us have excellent grammatical skills, don’t make these common mistakes.

Affect vs. Effect

Affect and effect are two commonly misused words that have the same meaning. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, affect means, “to produce an effect upon,” while effect means, “a change that results when something is done or happens.” There’s a small, but subtle difference between the two. Here’s a fact that will help you not only tell them apart, but that will also help you know when to use which one: affect is a verb, while effect is a noun.

Shelby was affected by the two cups of coffee she drank this morning, but her husband drank a can of Dr. Pepper, which did not have the same effect.

Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit and illicit are two more words that are commonly mixed up. These two, though, are very different from one another. Merriam-Webster defines elicit as a verb that means, “to call forth or draw out (something, such as inspiration or a response).” On the other hand, they define illicit as an adjective that means, “not permitted, unlawful.” In other words, you should use elicit when you’re describing drawing something out. And you should use illicit when you’re talking about something negative or illegal.

Example: In trying to elicit information from her hairdresser, Teasha discovered she was involved in illicit activities.

Illusive vs. Elusive vs. Allusive

This is another tricky example where three similar-sounding words have vastly different definitions. Illusive is an adjective that means deceptive. Elusive is another adjective, but this one means, “tending to evade grasp or pursuit” or “hard to comprehend or define.” And lastly, allusive is an adjective that means, “characterized by or containing allusion: making implied or indirect references.” So, allusive should be used when you are writing about someone who makes indirect references, especially when referencing literature. Elusive should be used for someone or something who is hard-to-catch. And lastly, illusive should be used for someone or something that’s deceptive or deceitful.

Example: That illusive man tends to tell allusive stories and lies. These tend to get him out of tricky situations—how elusive of him!

Everyday vs. every day

You might be surprised by this one. Merriam-Webster defines everyday as an adjective that means, “encountered or used routinely or typically: ordinary.” On the other hand, you use every day when talking about something that you do every day. So, make sure you don’t use everyday when you want to describe something that happens daily.

Example: Charles begins every day by brushing his teeth, washing his face, working out, and eating breakfast. This is an everyday routine.


All dictionary references come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.



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