Usage

This section gives you lots of advice, helping you to avoid making some of the most common mistakes of usage. Do you worry about the correct use of hopefully, for example, or wonder what the difference is between affect and effect or flaunt and flout? Are you uncertain about whether to say different from or different than or if you should say ‘a historic event’ or ‘an historic event’? And if you’ve ever been puzzled about cactuses versus cacti, go to Plurals of foreign words.

Explore the links below to find clear and straightforward guidance on these topics and many more. You can find more help with the correct use of English in Grammar tips.

‘A historic event’ or ‘an historic event’?

'Adverse' or 'averse'?

'Affect' or 'effect'?

‘All right’ or ‘alright’?

'Allude' or 'elude'?

'Alternate' or 'alternative'?

‘Among’ or ‘amongst’?

'Amoral' or 'immoral'?

'Assume' or 'presume'?

'Appraise' or 'apprise'?

Between you and me

Bored by, of, or with?

'Bring' or 'take'?

British and American terms

‘Can’ or ‘may’?

'Cannot' or 'can not'?

'Censure' or 'censor'?

'Cite', 'site', or 'sight'?

'Climactic' or 'climatic'?

Commonly confused words

'Complement' or 'compliment'?

'Continual' or 'continuous'?

'Could of' or 'could have'?

Continuous tenses

'Denote' or 'connote'?

Dialect

Different from, than, or to?

'Diffuse' or 'defuse'?

'Discreet' or 'discrete'?

‘Disinterested’ or ‘uninterested’?

Double negatives

'Elicit' or 'illicit'?

'Enquire' or 'inquire'?

Ending sentences with prepositions

‘Enquire’ or ‘inquire’?

'Especially or 'specially'?

'Farther' or 'further'?

'Flair' or 'flare'?

'Flaunt' or 'flout'?

Formal language

'Grizzly' or 'grisly'?

‘He or she’ versus ‘they’

'Historic' or 'historical'?

Hopefully

'I' or 'me'?

'i.e.' or 'e.g.'?

'Imply' or 'infer'?

Informal language

Irregardless

‘Its’ or ‘it’s’?

‘Laid’ or ‘lain’?

'Learnt' or 'learned'?

'Less' or 'fewer'?

Like

Literally

Literary language

‘Loose’ or ‘lose’?

‘May’ or ‘might’?

'Neither' and 'nor'

Old-fashioned language

‘Onto’ or ‘on to’?

Personal pronouns

'Phenomenon' or 'phenomena'?

'Principal' or 'principle'?

Plurals of foreign nouns

Relative clauses

‘Shall’ or ‘will’?

Slang

Standard English

Split infinitives

Thankfully

'That' or 'which'?

‘Themselves’ or 'themself’?

'These' or 'those'?

'To' or 'too'?

'Tortuous' or 'torturous'?

‘Who’ or ‘whom’?

See also

 

 


Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Grammar and usage