“If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.” - Doug Larson
In English, poor spelling can confound meaning and perplex the reader. The reason for this is that so many words are the same or very similar in sound but spelt differently (=homophones: cf - “They’re to “their” to “there”).
Just to complicate matters slightly, there are also homonyms, which are spelt the same and pronounced the same, but have different meaning: “Pole” as in electric light pole cf to “Pole” – someone from Poland. Homographs are written the same way but pronounced differently – “Polish” as in “shine” cf to “Polish” as from Poland…
Other words for one or another reason are confused by users and they can make the reading of a document onerous or funny, or simply inelegant. As an example of some commonly misused words, consider:
- This drug will *effect* a quick cure, but will *affect* your liver adversely.
- The *brake* fluid leaked out and caused the cable to *break*.
- *By* the way, when you go to say *bye* to aunt Stella, stop *by*and *buy* some milk.
- When you *allot* the paperwork, make sure that Barbara doesn’t have *a lot* to do, she is still recovering from her hand injury.
- The grandest *capitol* is surely in the national *capital*.
- He looked at the weather *vane* and saw the West wind had started to blow, but he could feel it too as the blood rushed in his *veins*. Now all was in *vain*, he had to stop working.
- When you finally catch *sight* of the *site* that is being built illegally, don’t forget to ring me and *cite* the offenders.
- Go *forth* and be the first! Not the second or the third or the *fourth*, the very first!
- He made an *allusion* to artist’s fine technique that created an *illusion* of three-dimensional space on his canvas.
- If you have *loose* knot on that anchor, you are likely to *lose* it in the bottom of the sea.
- He had to *alter* the plans for the *altar* of the church as there was not enough space to build it.
- *Two* of them had gone back *to* see the principal, *too*.
- *Quite* a few people had *quit* their jobs at the office, which explained why it was so *quiet* that morning.
- *Where* did you put those shoes that *were* on the chair, I wanted to *wear* them.
- *They’re* here, in *their* place - I didn’t want them to be *there* in plain view.
- The *plane* flew over the flood *plain* by the Mississippi river.
- *Lie* here close to me and you can see the hen *lay* her eggs.
- He is a habitual liar, so it’s no surprise he *lied* to you about the treacherous plans he *laid*.
- Yesterday, I *lay* down a little in the afternoon as I was tired. I shall probably *lie* down again today.
- The hen *laid* ten eggs, but he *lied* and said it laid five.
- Other words for one or another reason are confused by users and they can make the reading of a document onerous or funny, or simply inelegant. As an example of some commonly misused words, consider: