Misemployed words Part I

Akanksha Tripathi and Dr. Monal Desai

Choicest use of words by the writer is called Diction. It is also known as Author’s Voice. Correct diction saves space and enhances the clarity of the reader/listener. So, being a student while writing your research paper, thesis, dissertation, assignments, and so on, you need to be careful in choosing words.

This handout guides you to choose suitable words in your writing.

Principle vs Principal

‘Principle’ is rule or law, while ‘principal’ is head of the school/college.

  • Archimedes’ Principle of Displacement was manifested in the sailing of a huge ship, Titanic on water, although it drowned.
  • The Principal of the school invited the dignitaries on the dais.

Then vs Than

‘Then’ indicates process or sequence while ‘than’ is used for comparison

  • Take milk in a pan, bring it to boil then add coffee and sugar.
  • In academics, the process is more important than the end result.

Among vs Between

‘Among’ is used when referring to more than two while ‘between’ is used when referring to only two.

  • The marks were divided equally among the 4 participating groups in a singing competition.
  • In the game of cricket, in case of a draw, the points are equally divided between both the teams.

Affect vs Effect

‘Affect’ shows cause (verb) and refers to either emotional or negative impact, in contrast, ‘effect’ shows the result (noun) that may be positive or negative.

  • The anomalies in his audit report affected his chance of promotion.
  • The effect of flood was devastating.

Farther vs Further

‘Farther’ is physical distance whereas ‘further’ leads to step ahead to any event or takes us ahead of a particular point of time.

  • You need to drive 8 km farther to reach the nearest market place.
  • This experiment needs further attention to do away with inconsistency in results.

Too vs To

‘To’ is used as infinitives with a main verb alongside it (e.g. ‘to work’) or preposition. On the contrary, ‘too’ indicates excess or in addition

  • To err is human; to forgive is divine.
  • The weather is too hot to bear.

There, Their and They’re

‘There’ points out to a place while ‘their’ indicates possession, whereas ‘they’re’ is the contracted form of ‘they are.’

  • There were many independent candidates standing in the election of the City Mayor.
  • Their way of talking was sophisticated and polished.
  • They’re down to earth in their attitude.

Theirs vs Ours

‘Theirs’ and ‘ours’ show possession of ‘them’ and ‘us’ respectively.

  •  We had our presentation in the hall but theirs are yet to be presented.
  • Ours is a huge set up as compared to yours.

Consequently, Subsequently, and Simultaneously

‘Consequently’ shows causation while ‘subsequently’ tells us about the next. ‘Simultaneously’ describes events taking place at the same time.

  • In the factory, the temperature of the boiler was increased to such a level that it consequently burst.
  • After World War II, the British Treasury got emptied and subsequently, the Empire decided to withdraw from India.
  • My mummy can simultaneously knit and watch television.

Cite, site and sight

‘Cite’ refers to something for proof whereas ‘site’ is a place/location/area. ‘Sight’ on the other hand is related to vision.

  • He cited works of many authors in his review paper.
  • The project site was dumped with solid waste.
  • The sight of pandas enthralled children at the zoo.

Towards vs toward

In British English ‘Towards’ is used, whereas the American English acceptable form is ‘Toward’.

  • Mumbai Indians moved towards its goal of winning the title of IPL for four times.
  • Mumbai Indians moved towards its goal of winning the title of IPL for four times.