Word Usage

Here is a list of commonly misused words or word phrases. The definitions of these words or word phrases may come from Cambridge Dictionaries Online, MacMillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners or Oxford Dictionaries Online.

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a few, few

Which should you use, a few or few ? The determiner a few , meaning “a small number of”, is used before a plural noun. The determiner few...

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a head of, ahead of

Which should you use, ahead of or a head of ? Ahead of is a prepositional phrase meaning in front of. The noun head may mean a body part, the mind,...

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a head start, ahead start

Which should you use, a head start or ahead start ? A head start is a noun phrase meaning an advantage someone has over other people in the same...

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a lone, alone

Which should you use, a lone or alone ? The adjective alone means without other people. Alone is not used before nouns; alone can also function as an...

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a lot, alot

Which should you use, alot or a lot ? Alot is a misspelling. It should be spelled as a lot . Incorrect: He likes her alot . Correct: He likes her a...

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a most, the most

Which should you use, a most or the most ? The adverb most , often preceded by the definite article the , is used to form the superlative degree of...

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a series of

The construction a series of is used for referring to a number of similar or related events or things, one following another. Please note that a...

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a while, awhile

Which should you use, a while or awhile ? Awhile is an adverb meaning for a short time. A while is a noun phrase meaning a length of time; a while is...

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abstention, abstinence

Which should you use, abstention or abstinence ? The noun abstention means a decision not to vote in an election. The noun abstinence means not doing...

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abstractedly, abstractly

Which should you use, abstractedly or abstractly ? The adverb abstractedly means in an absent-minded manner. The adverb abstractly means in an...

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