My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Commonly Misused Words and Expressions, #4

Selected tips from Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, with my own commentary:

  • However.
    • When you mean "nevertheless," don't use "however" at the beginning of a sentence. Only use it at the beginning if it means "in whatever way" or "to whatever extent." For example, "However you phrase it, a good writer never puts themselves above their readers. Nevertheless, many writers have been called out for doing it."
  • Imply. Infer.
    • Imply means to suggest something. Infer means to deduce from evidence or surroundings. You can imply something, but the reader infers something from your writing.
  • In regard to. In regards to.
    • Do not put an 's' on regard. The proper phrase is "in regard to." If you can't remember this or prefer to avoid it entirely, us "as regards."
  • Insightful. Perceptive.
    • Insightful is a much more powerful word than perceptive. While normally, stronger is better, in this case it often sounds like exaggeration. In most cases, the word perceptive is more than acceptable. Only use it for extraordinary instances of future thinking.
  • Interesting.
    • This word has no descriptive qualities in today's language. It usually falls flat and has no meaning. Instead of saying something is interesting, say why it is interesting. Give some description and give enough detail so the reader can conclude for themselves that it was interesting. In this case, it is best to spell it out.


  1. Strunk & White is still a great resource for the basics like this. I still refer to my dog-eared copy of the book from time to time. Thanks so much for sharing some of the expertise from the book.

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I strive to update daily (and so far, am succeeding!) so check back often for new posts!