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Grammar Repair Shop: 4 common confusions

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Here are four common confusions in grammar usage and how  to use these terms properly:

1. Complement vs. Compliment

A complement is a fitting addition, while a compliment is a piece of praise.

Examples: A new briefcase was the perfect complement to his interview suit. She accepted the compliment gracefully.

2. Bad vs. Badly

One often hears, “I feel badly about ___,” but it isn’t correct. To say you feel badly could mean that you’re unskilled at feeling.

I feel badly about spoiling your surprise.

Correct: Anne felt bad about missing the anniversary party.

3. Less vs. Fewer

Here’s how to remember the difference between these two similar words: If you can count it, use "fewer." If you can’t count it, use "less."

Examples: I drank fewer glasses of water today than I did yesterday. I drank less water today than I did yesterday.

(You can count glasses, but you can’t count water.)

4. Between vs. Among

In the majority of cases, this rule will yield the correct choice:

Use "between" when you are writing about two things; use "among" when you’re writing about three or more things.

You can choose between two appointment times. You’ll need to choose among the office chairs offered in the catalog.

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