Close isn't good enough when it comes to. The person reading your correspondence or memo might understand your meaning if you use almost-correct words, but you'll lose respect from those who know the difference.
Test your knowledge of these commonly confused words by selecting the right one for each sentence:
1. Our manufacturing plant reported fewer/less accidents this year.
2. The new laptop will cost under/ less than $1,000.
3. My new job requires me to commute farther/further.
4. The boss plans to consider that idea farther/further.
5. The report composes/comprises results from 15 studies.
6. Those three offices compose/ comprise the mid-Atlantic division.
7. The construction noise was continuous/continual.
8. He interrupts me continuously/ continually.
9. The truck driver past/passed the SUV, then drove past/passed
10. The negotiations among/between the two companies are top secret.
11. The conversation among/between the seven board members turned ugly.
12. She is the principle/principal figure in the scandal.
13. In deciding, we must adhere to our principles/principals.
14. The end is in cite/site/sight.
15. Can you cite/site/sight the source of that information?
16. The contractor visited the building cite/site/sight Tuesday.
17. I approved the new design for
our organization's stationary/stationery.
18. I spent my lunch break working out on a stationary/stationery bike.
19. There/They're/Their the best employees this company has ever hired.
20. The team members' raises fell short of there/they're/their expectations.
21. There/They're/Their will be no bonuses this year.
1. fewer; 2. less. Use fewer when referring to individual items and less for amounts or quantities. Use "under" and "over" to refer to spatial differences, not quantities.
3. farther; 4. further. Use "farther" for distance (note that it begins with far) and "further" when discussing time or degree.
5. comprises; 6.compose. "Comprise" means to include or contain, while "compose" means to create or make up. Note: Never write "is comprised of."
7. continuous; 8. continually. "Continuous" means uninterrupted; "continual" means repeated.
9. passed, past. Use "passed" when referring to the act of passing; use "past" when referring to a time or place.
10. between; 11. among. Use "between" when comparing two people or things (Think "tween = two"); use "among" for more than two.
12. principal; 13. principles. The "principal" is at the top in rank, whether you're using the word as a noun to refer to the head of a school or a law firm, or as an adjective, as in this example. "Principle" always refers to a rule, law or motivating force. (Remember that both "principle" and "rule" end with le.)
14. sight; 15. cite; 16. site. Use "sight" for the sense you experience with your eyes; use "cite" when referring to an authority or example; use "site" for a location (where something is situated).
17. stationery; 18 stationary. You write a letter on "stationery" (both have "er"); something that stands still is "stationary."
19. they're; 20. their; 21. there. Use "they're" when you mean "they are"; use "their" to denote possession; use "there" to designate places. (Note the "here" within that one.)
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