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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Commonly Misused Words and Expressions, #5

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

  • Irregardless.
    • This word does not really exist. If you are dismissing something, the word is regardless, such as "Regardless of rain or snow, the games will still go on." If you want to mean the opposite, take off the -less. For example, "In regard to the rain, it was pouring too hard to continue the game." (Which, I would like to point out, has a lot of unnecessary words and could be shortened. But, it provided a clear example nevertheless.)
  • Kind of. Sort of.
    • In formal writing, these should never be used in place of "maybe," "rather," or "something like." Never never never. They are slang and should be treated as such. Instead, use them with their original meaning, as in "The common cold is a kind of illness."
  • Less. Fewer.
    • Less refers to quantity and extent. "The pillows were less comfortable than before." Fewer refers to number and amount. "There were fewer pillows than before." For the sake of clarity, it is important to keep their difference in mind.
  • Like. As.
    • "Like" is for nouns and pronouns. "As" covers phrases and clauses. While the use of one for the other is quickly gaining ground in common writing, it is still considered improper when writing in a formal setting. If you are writing in your diary or journal, use whichever you like. If you are writing a novel, go with the traditional rules.
  • Literal. Literally.
    • Thanks to current trends, these words have become greatly overused and have lost some of their meaning. They just don't carry the punch they used to. Therefore, if you want to convey the same meaning, it is up to you to create a way to add some force to the words. In most cases, it can be left out without changing the meaning anyway, so its best to just avoid it.


  1. There are so many words we get used to using, shortening, writing in texts and even in Twitter. It is difficult to remember that just because everyone does it, it doesn't make it right.

    Thanks for the reminders!

    1. Thanks for reading!

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