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 can or may or whether 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.

Apart from learning how to avoid mistakes, you’ll also find useful sections on how to build a piece of writing and how to raise your awareness of words or terms which may cause offense to other people.

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?'

All right or alright?

American and British terms

Between you and me

Bored by, of, or with?

Breech or breach?

Can or may?

Cereal or serial?

Commonly confused words


Different from, than, or to?

Formal language

'He or she' versus 'they'


Informal language

I or me?

Less or fewer?


May or might?

Old-fashioned language

Onto or on to?

Shall or will?


That or which?

Themselves or themself?

Who or whom?


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Grammar and usage