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 offence 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.

All right or alright?

Between you and me

Bored by, of, or with?

Can or may?

Different from, than, or to?

Double negatives

Ending sentences with prepositions

‘He or she’ versus ‘they’

A historic event or an historic event?


Less or fewer?


May or might?

Onto or on to?

Personal pronouns

Plurals of foreign words

Relative clauses

Shall or will?

Split infinitives

Themselves or themself?

Who or whom?

See also

Commonly confused words

British and American terms

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Grammar and usage