Technologically mediated communication has influenced the way we write and speak. From acronyms to contractions, netspeak has made its way into the dictionaries and is no longer limited to the social media. However, a casual attitude towards language usage is what leads to some serious gaffes online.
The most common language-related error people make on the internet is mixing up similar sounding words with different meanings (known as homophones). There are several homophones that are commonly misused even by native speakers of the language. Following are some common examples of slip ups one can frequently spot online.
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1. Aide vs. Aid
Aide means someone who offers assistance while aid means assistance.
- I didn’t receive any financial aide. (Wrong)
- I didn’t receive any financial aid. (Right)
2. Ill vs. I’ll
Ill means unwell while I’ll is short for I will.
- Ill be hosting a house party this weekend. (Wrong)
- I’ll be hosting a house party this weekend. (Right)
3. Isle vs. Aisle
Isle is an island while aisle means narrow passage.
- The day I walked down the isle. (Wrong)
- The day I walked down the aisle. (Right)
4. Band vs. Banned
Band means something that binds or a group while banned means prohibited.
- I was band from entering the pub. (Wrong)
- I was banned from entering the pub. (Right)
5. Your vs. You’re
Your means something that belongs to someone and you’re is short for you are.
- Your kidding, right? (Wrong)
- You’re kidding, right? (Right)
6. Lose vs. Loose
Lose means cease to have, or fail to keep while loose means not fastened or contained.
- Did you loose your ring? (Wrong)
- Did you lose your ring? (Right)
7. Desert vs. Dessert
Desert means dry land or abandons while dessert means after-dinner treat.
- Ice-cream is my favorite desert. (Wrong)
- Ice-cream is my favorite dessert. (Right)
8. Duel vs. Dual
Duel means fight while dual means double.
- She was born in India and raised in the US. She has duel citizenship. (Wrong)
- She was born in India and raised in the US. She has dual citizenship. (Right)
9. Discreet vs. Discrete
Discreet means tactful while discrete means different.
- His office has three discreet divisions. (Wrong)
- His office has three discrete divisions. (Right)
10. Could of vs. Could have
Could of has no meaning because it is an error while could have meant something that was likely but did not occur in the past.
- You could of won the race if you had participate. (Wrong)
- You could have won the race if you had participated. (Right)
11. Affect vs. Effect
Affect means to influence or impact while effect means the result of something.
- The affect of the tornado was catastrophic. (Wrong)
- The effect of the tornado was catastrophic. (Right)
12. 1 and 10 vs. 1 to10
1 and 10 mean any/ all numbers including 1 and 10 while 1 to 10 means any/ all numbers excluding 1 and 10.
- How many numbers are there between 1 and 10? (Wrong)
- How many numbers are there between 1 to10? (Right)
13. E.g. vs. I.e.
E.g. is "exempli gratia" in Latin which means example in English while i.e is "id est in Latin" means in other words in English.
- I went to my least favorite place (e.g., the dentist). (Wrong)
- I went to my least favorite place (i.e., the dentist). (Right)
14. Hear vs. Here
Hear means listen while here means this place.
- I here you. (Wrong)
- I hear you. (Right)
15. Lessen vs. Lesson
Lessen means to decrease while lesson means example or unit of instruction.
- Life taught him a great lessen. (Wrong)
- Life taught him a great lesson. (Right)
16. No vs. Know
No means negative while know means be aware or understand.
- He doesn’t no her name. (Wrong)
- He doesn’t know her name. (Right)
17. Flee vs. Flea
Flee means escape while flea means insect.
- I had to flea because I saw the cops. (Wrong)
- I had to flee because I saw the cops. (Right)
18. It’s vs. Its
It’s is it is while its means belonging to or associated with.
- The puppy ran to it’s mother. (Wrong)
- The puppy ran to its mother. (Right)
19. Miner vs. Minor
Miner means a person who works in a mine while minor is a person below legal age.
- He can’t marry, he is still a miner. (Wrong)
- He can’t marry, he is still a minor. (Right)
20. Capitol vs. Capital
Capitol is a building that belongs to the legislature and capital means money invested in a business or the most important city.
- Austin is my favorite capitol city and Texas is my favorite state. (Wrong)
- Austin is my favorite capital city and Texas is my favorite state. (Right)
21. That vs. Which
That is to mention something or used with restrictive clauses while which is to elaborate on something or used with non-restrictive clauses.
- The car which hit me was blue. (Wrong)
- The car that hit me was blue. (Right)
22. Too vs. To
Too means as well or excess while to is a preposition of movement or direction.
- We are going too visit her tomorrow. (Wrong)
- We are going to visit her tomorrow. (Right)
23. Then vs. Than
Then relates to time, order or condition while than is used to introduce comparison.
- She is taller then me. (Wrong)
- She is taller than me. (Right)
24. Wander vs. Wonder
Wander means to move about while wonder means to be curious, be in doubt, or awe.
- How I wander what you are. (Wrong)
- How I wonder what you are. (Right)
25. Stationary vs. Stationery
Stationary means immobile while stationery is writing and other office supplies.
- She pulled out a piece of stationary and wrote a quick letter. (Wrong)
- She pulled out a piece of stationery and wrote a quick letter. (Right)
26. Sealing vs. Ceiling
Sealing means to fasten or close securely while the ceiling is the overhead, upper surface of a covered space.
- I hate painting the sealing. (Wrong)
- I hate painting the ceiling. (Right)
27. Alot vs. A lot
Alot is an error and it serve no meaning while a lot means plenty.
- That’s alot of sandwich! (Wrong)
- That’s a lot of sandwich! (Right)
28. Weak vs. Week
Weak means frail while a week is a period of seven days.
- Let’s meet sometime this weak. (Wrong)
- Let’s meet sometime this week. (Right)
29. Hippocrates vs. Hypocrites
Hippocrates means Greek physician while hypocrites are people who feign something for the sake of approval.
- You guys are all hippocrates. (Wrong)
- You guys are all hypocrites. (Right)
30. Weather vs. Whether
Weather is an atmospheric condition while whether means if.
- Let me know weather you like it, I’ll order a few more. (Wrong)
- Let me know whether you like it, I’ll order a few more. (Right)
Although there are noted advantages of simplifying language, one major disadvantage of using such language is that it creeps into our formal (business, academic, etc.) writing too. One of my biggest pet peeves is my students slipping in acronyms like BTW (by the way) and ATM (at the moment) into their essays!
While mistakes are unavoidable – from typos to oversight and autocorrect error – one can always choose to put in deliberate efforts towards avoiding language howlers by cross checking what’s right and what’s not.