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*He stayed awhile; he stayed for a while.

  • Besides is other than; beside is next to.
  • The singular of biceps is biceps; the singular of triceps is triceps.

Flawless-Grammar-in-Your-Dissertation-Writing

  • There’s no such thing as a bicep; there’s no such thing as a tricep
  • blond man, a blond woman; he’s a blond, she’s a blonde.
  • capital is a city (or a letter, or part of a column); a capitol is a building.
  • Something centres on something else, not around it.
  • If you’re talking about a thrilling plot point, the word is climactic; if you’re discussing the weather, the word is climatic.
  • cornet is an instrument; a coronet is a crown.
  • One emigrates from a place; one immigrates to a place.
  • The word is enmity, not emnity.
  • One goes to work every day, or nearly, but eating lunch is an everyday occurrence.
  • flair is a talent; a flare is an emergency signal.
  • flier is someone who flies planes; a flyer is a piece of paper.
  • Flower bed, not flowerbed.
  • Free rein, not free reign.
  • To garner is to accumulate, as a waiter garners tips; to garnish (in the non-parsley meaning) is to take away, as the government garnishes one’s wages; a garnishee is a person served with a garnishment; to garnishee is also to serve with a garnishment (that is, it’s a synonym for “to garnish”).
  • gel is a jelly; it’s also a transparent sheet used in stage lighting. When Jell-O sets, or when one’s master plan takes final form, it either jells or gels (though I think the former is preferable).
  • Bears are grizzly; crimes are grisly. Cheap meat, of course, is gristly.
  • Coats go on hangers; planes go in hangars.
  • One’s sweetheart is “hon,” not “hun,” unless one’s sweetheart is Attila (not, by the way, Atilla) or perhaps Winnie-the-Pooh (note hyphens).
  • One insures cars; one ensures success; one assures people.
  • Lawn mower, not lawnmower.
  • The past tense of lead is led, not lead.
  • One loathes someone else but is loath to admit one’s distaste.
  • If you’re leeching, you’re either bleeding a patient with a leech or otherwise sucking someone’s or something’s lifeblood. If you’re leaching, you’re removing one substance from another by means of a percolating liquid (I have virtually no idea what that means; I trust that you do).
  • You wear a mantle; your fireplace has a mantel.
  • Masseurs are men; masseuses are women.  (These days they’re all called massage therapists anyway.)
  • The short version of microphone is still, so far as RH is concerned, mike. Not, ick, “mic.”
  • Mucus is a noun; mucous is an adjective.
  • Nerve-racking, not -wracking; racked with guilt, not wracked with guilt.
  • One buys a newspaper at a newsstand, not a newstand.
  • An ordinance is a law; ordnance is ammo.
  • Palette has to do with colour; palate has to do with taste; a pallet is, among other things, something you sleep on. Eugene Pallette was a character actor; he’s particularly good in the 1943 film Heaven Can Wait.
  • Noun wise, a premier is a diplomat; a premiere is something one attends. “Premier” is also, of course, an adjective denoting quality.

Common-mistakes-in-essays

  • Prophecy is a noun; prophesy is a verb.
  • Please don’t mix somewhat and something into one murky modifier. A thing is somewhat rare, or it’s something of a rarity.
  • tick bites; a tic is a twitch.
  • Tortuous is twisty, circuitous, or tricky; torturous is painful, or painfully slow.
  • Transsexual, not transexual.
  • Troops are military; troupes are theatrical.
  • vice is depraved; a vise squeezes.
  • Vocal cords; strikes a chord.
  • A smart aleck is a wise guy; a mobster is a wiseguy.
  • X ray is a noun; X-ray is a verb or adjective.

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