Six Writing Mistakes You Shouldn't Make

by | Apr 7, 2009

Because it’s the Internet, the rules of grammar tend to be a little more…relaxed, shall we say, than what was required in your Comp 1 essays. However, there are a few mistakes that will just leave your readers confused and leave you looking like an idiot.

Here are six commonly misspelled or misused words. Make sure you use them correctly on your website.

Irregardless

I’m not the first one to say this, and I won’t be the last.

“Irregardless” is not a word.

The prefix “ir” is a negative. Something “irrefutable” cannot be refuted. By the same token, the suffix “less” is also a negative (careless = lacking care). You’re not supposed to put double negatives in a sentence, so you’re definitely not supposed to be doing it in a single word.

“Regardless” is the word you’re looking for.

Definitely

This one is misspelled every day by people who are otherwise intelligent and have a good grasp on language. Perhaps that’s why this one bothers me so much.

Look at the word. Look closely. Is there an “a”? No? Then please tell me: why does everybody in the free world persist in spelling it “definately”?

It’s D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y. Always, without exception.

Weather/Whether

I wouldn’t be putting this on here if I hadn’t just edited an article that had that very mistake. For the record, here they are properly used:

“The weather will be sunny today.”
“Whether or not it rains, we’re going to the mall.”

Accept/Except

My brother and I saw the following on the marquee of our favorite drive-in restaurant in college:

“We except credit cards.”

It’s funny when it’s a caption in a silly picture on the Internet. It’s not so funny when it’s your website copy, meant to convince potential customers to use your for all of their needs.

“Accept” means “to take or receive.” “Except” means “to exclude.” This is how they’re used correctly:

“We accept all credit cards except for American Express.”

Affect/Effect

Generally speaking, “affect” is a verb, which means “to act on” or “to influence.” “Effect” is typically used as a noun, and it means “result.”

“The problems affected all of us.”
“The effect of the law was widespread.”

When “effect” is used as a verb, it means “to bring about.”

“The law effected major changes.”

Less/Fewer

Yes, they mean the same thing, but they’re used in different situations. “Fewer” is used for things you can count. “Less” is used for things you can’t.

“We have fewer than 100 stacks of paper.”
“We have less time now.”

That’s all for now. Keep checking back for more grammar and writing tips!