Using a word incorrectly can harm your image, writes Jeff Haden for LinkedIn. These common words can trip up even strong writers:
• Adverse or averse. Adverse means “harmful or unfavorable.” Averse means to have “feelings of dislike or opposition.”
• Bring or take. You bring things here and you take them there.
• Compliment or complement. Compliment is when you tell someone you like her shoes. Complement means to add to or improve.
• Criteria or criterion. Criteria is the plural of criterion.
• Discreet or discrete. Discreet means to be careful. Discrete is used when referencing numbers or data.
• Elicit or Illicit. You can elicit a response. Illicit references illegality.
• Farther or further. Farther means a physical distance, such as from Louisiana to England. Further references figurative distance, as in “Let’s not discuss it any further.”
• Fewer or less. Fewer is used when it refers to something you can count, such as “fewer dollars.” Less refers to something you can’t, or haven’t, counted, such as “less time.”
• Imply or infer. Implying means to suggest that something is correct. Inferring means that the person is attempting to deduce, and he may be right or wrong.
• Irregardless or regardless. They both mean the same thing, so just be safe and say regardless.
• Number or amount. Use number when you can count what you’re referring to. Use amount when you can’t.
— Adapted from “40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb,” Jeff Haden, LinkedIn.