No one is immune to the occasional word fail. I'm all too familiar with the sinking feeling of noticing a silly word mistake in something I just submitted.
You can avoid most of these facepalm moments by reading your work before submitting or clicking "Send." Some words, though, require closer scrutiny.
The word pairs below are among the most commonly misused words in business writing. Use the definitions and examples to help you choose the right word.
allude, elude, refer
Use allude to indirectly refer to something, elude to escape attention or understanding altogether, and refer to directly call attention to something.
Don't just allude to proper conduct; instead, refer specifically to required behavior. That way your expectations will not elude your staff.
Although both words mean "to add something," augment indicates a simple increase in size or degree, and supplement indicates making something that was deficient, complete.
Flood warnings augmented the importance of the levee reports.
This manual supplements the program we purchased last month.
As a noun, capital refers to wealth (money or goods) or to a chief city. The adjective capital means "important, excellent, or serious." Capitol refers to a government building.
Capitol buildings are generally in the center of capital cities.
She grew used to making decisions of capital importance.
Farther refers to physical distance; further means "to a greater extent or degree."
When we investigated further, we discovered that they had traveled farther than initially thought.
When speaking of two things, former refers to the first thing and latter to the second.
Of the two speeches, the former was more polished, but the latter was more entertaining.
Who's is the contraction of "who is" or "who has." Whose is a possessive pronoun.
Who's responsible for the shipment? Whose parcel is this?
Misused words often slip past your spelling and grammar checkers. Careful proofreading will help you flag and correct misused words in your writing. To catch common errors, we recommend creating and updating a list of words that befuddle you. The “Notes” app on your phone is a great place for this. Refer to your list whenever you proofread.