Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I can never remember…

Not long ago, I was talking with Cassie Mae about how the words Affect vs Effect are often mixed up, and it got me thinking about all those  other commonly confused words that we can never remember which to use.

I've gotten used to looking for certain words in copy and line edits because they're so often misused. Lie vs. Lay is a huge one and Further vs Farther is too. Some of these words are important to get right, but sometimes you might want to write the 'wrong' word for voice.

One set of words I've run into several times is nauseous vs nauseated. Nauseous means to cause nausea/sickness whereas nauseated means to feel sick. So really, if you say I'm nauseous, you're saying I'm causing nausea in someone else. But over the years it's been used incorrectly enough that it's become the norm. It's even shown to be okay in some dictionaries, although in other reference materials, including the Chicago Manual of Style, it's wrong.

If you have a character who's speaking very casually, you might use nauseous. But if you have a character who speaks very formally, you might want to stick with nauseated. So if I'm doing a copy or line edit for you, and I correct your word, consider if you want to use it incorrectly or if you should change it. That choice is always up to you, the writer.

What commonly misused words do you often get wrong?

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