What are the common problems in words usage?

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Depending on the individual's level of attention, the discriminatory listening skills, and the ability to retain the rules of grammar as they are learned, these are five of the most common word usage mistakes. The evidence of these is found everywhere in the Internet, in blogs, in collegiate and pre-collegiate student work, and sometimes even in advertisements that do not go through a strict, professional editorial panel prior to publishing.

1. Confusing homophones- Homophones are words that sound the same but are not written the same way. The most commonly mistaken words in this category include:

  • there (demonstrative) instead of "their" (possessive pronoun)
  • effect (to cause a consequence), instead of "affect" (to cause specific emotion)
  • then (preposition), instead of "than" (comparative)
  • using "should of", instead of "should have".

2. Misuse of adverbs- Adverbs modify VERBS and other adverbs. When a descriptor is to be put behind the verb its use should be differentiated by the use of -ly or by the proper word change that corresponds. For example:

  • "You did good", instead of "You did WELL"
  • "He ran "QUICK", instead of He ran "QUICKLY"

3. Using apostrophes as plurals, and vice versa- A growing trend, perhaps caused by over-usage of informal English in blogs and social networks, the use of apostrophes to signify plurals may be the result of lack of care, or lack of attention to details. For example:

  • kid's, instead of "kids", or "children"
  • classe's , instead of "classes"
  • cookie's, instead of "cookies"

4. Confusing past tense verbs- When an automatic "ed" is added to the end of a simple verb to make it into a past-tense verb without considering if the verb is regular or irregular. For example:

  • gived, instead of "gave"
  • cutted, instead of "cut"
  • spilled (past simple tense of "spill), instead of "spilt" (past participle or adjective for something that has just spilled on the floor)

5. Jargon- Although language acquisition is a cognitive and social learning process, there is much confusion when more than one input is incorrect and yet exposes itself to the listener. These are word such as:

  • ain't, instead of "is not"
  • done did, instead of "done"
  • have something "did", instead of having something "done"
  • saying "I don't know nothing", instead of "I don't know anything". "Don't know nothing" contradicts itself.

There are plenty more common usages, but these are by far the most commonly seen.

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