Easily Mixed Up Words (1 of 4)

A or an?

First impressions last as the saying goes, and this might be true for the a/ an rule. Most will have initially learned to use a when the following word starts with a consonant and to use an when a vowel follows.

Consonants

b

c

d

f

g

h

j

k

l

m

n

p

q

r

s

t

v

w

x

y

z

Vowels

a

e

i

o

u

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A happy girl was dancing.

I enjoyed a lovely evening

It had been an entertaining day.

My friend got wet because he forgotten an umbrella.

The above though is a simplification of the rule which is based on the sound made by the start of the word as opposed to how it is written. The following examples demonstrate this.

He was forgiven because people thought he had made an honest mistake. [the h is silent]

There was only half an hour left in the game.

David had hoped to save some money by buying a used copy of the book. [used starts with a y-sound]

Sam had decided that it was a university he did not want to attend.

Affect/ effect

Reminder: affect is a verb!

Affect means to influence, to make a difference. For example:

How do you think that will affect your health?

Effect (as a noun) means the result or consequence. For example:

The party’s campaign seemed to have little effect on the election result.

Effect (as a verb) means to cause something to happen, to accomplish. For example:

They tried hard and effected a big change in people’s attitude.

Advise/ advice

Advise is a verb and advice is a noun. For example:

He was advised by his father to take their advice with caution.

Alley/ ally

It is quite easy to use to wrong one. Correct usage is as follows:

He walked along the dark alley.

The United Kingdom is a close ally of the USA.

Allowed/aloud

Beware that their matching sound can lead to the inadvertent use of the wrong one. Correct usage is as follows:

There are no ball games allowed in the park.

He read the letter aloud.

All together/ altogether

Altogether is an adverb meaning completely or totally. For example:

It was altogether too much for the poor woman to deal with.

But,

The family was all together to celebrate the anniversary.

All ways/ always

Always is an adverb meaning every time, or without exception, or forever. For example:

I will always enjoy doing puzzles.

But,

I have looked at this puzzle all ways and still can’t solve it.

All ready/ already

Already is an adverb meaning  by this time or previously. For example:

The parcel had already been delivered.

But,

If we are all ready, we can to the beach.

Among/ between

Generally, between is used with reference to just two things while among is used when there are more than two things. For example:

Jack and Sam shared the cake between themselves.

The prize money was shared equally among the whole team.

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