- "Aggravate. Irritate."
- The first means to further annoy or anger someone. The second means to initially annoy or anger someone. A person has to be irritated before they can be aggravated. An aggravating situation is only possible if the situation was already irritating someone. Think of it in stages: calm; irritated; aggravated.
- "All right."
- This has become very common in everyday speech. I have seen it written as "all right," "allright," and "alright." Only the first is correct; the last two are incorrect. Unless you are texting your friend, it is best to stick to two words.
- When used as a phrase, "and/or" is outdated and annoying. It also ruins any chance you have at clarity. Instead, break the phrase up and use two clauses or sentences. Make the possibilities separate instead of trying to lump it into one. Clarity cannot always be accomplished by taking shortcuts; this is one of those times.
- If your meaning is "any person," then the word should be "any body." If you could replace it with "any human," "any corpse," or "any student," then you need to use "any body."
- If you are using it to mean "anybody" (not to be confused with the above), it is written as one word. If you mean "any single person," "any individual student," or "any single thing," then it needs to be written in two words, as "any one."
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Commonly Misused Words and Expressions, #1
Selected tips from Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, with my own commentary: