Word Use Tips

Here are some word use tips for a few commonly misused words

Affect or Effect

The most common use of affect is as a verb meaning to influence. The most common use of effect is as a noun meaning an outcome or result. For example:

The effect of the rain was to make the ground wet.
What effect did the rain have on the ground?
The rain affected the ground.
How did the rain affect the ground?

Uncommon Use of Effect

Effect can be a verb that means to bring about, as in:

The rain effected a change in the amount of moisture in the ground.
The scientist effected a cure for the disease.

Uncommon Uses of Affect

You can also use affect as a verb that implies pretending, as in “She affected a southern accent.”

In psychology, the word affect used as a noun is a technical term in discussing a feeling or emotional state.

Your and You’re

Your is the possessive form of you.

You’re is a contraction for you are.

Correct uses:

Your car is red.
The car is on your left.
You’re driving a red car.
You’re giving me your car.

Here are different uses of your:

Formal titles: Your Honor, Your Majesty

Informal use: Your average person buys a car every four years.

There – Their – They’ve

Their is a possessive pronoun. Example: Their home is beautiful.

They’ve is a contraction for they have. Example: They’ve given us a beautiful home.

There has many possible uses but generally means at that place, in that location, in that respect, or on that point.

Correct uses:

Go over there and pick up the papers.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet.
The football players had their pre-game meeting.
They’ve given us 10 more minutes.

More word use tips for “there.”

Fewer – Less

Use fewer with things you can distinctly count:

I have fewer books than you have.
She has fewer ideas than the other board members.
Fewer people attended the concert this year.

Use less for uncountable things:

We had less rain this year than last year.
He has less money than needed, because he had fewer dollars than he thought he had.
Because I had fewer hours to work, I had less time to complete the project.

Also, use less with adjectives and adverbs:

He is less happy than you are.
You walk less quickly than he does, because you take fewer steps in each minute.

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