9 words you're probably getting completely wrong


The English language might seem easy, but there are some everyday words even native speakers get wrong.

Here are some of the words we commonly misuse, so you can spare making a fool of yourself in future.

Plus, it gives you permission to be a pedant when others make the mistakes.

1. Enormity

We use this to mean “enormous,” but it really means evil.

2. Affect/effect

Affect is a verb, something can affect something else. Effect is a noun (an effect of something).

3. Nauseous

If you tell someone you feel nauseous, it’s likely you mean you feel sick. But the word you’re looking for is nauseated; nauseous means to cause feelings of illness – so thinking of your parents in bed together, that’s nauseous, not how you feel after a big night out.

4. Less/fewer

You can have less of something that we refer to as a singular object – so less time, money, patience or food. Fewer is anything that we refer to as plural, so you can have fewer options, clothes or trees.

5. Dilemma

Often mistaken for “problem,” a dilemma means you have a two options and neither one is attractive.

6. Virtually

We say virtually to mean “almost all,” when it actually describes something that’s close to, more or less something, so a heavily discounted pair of shoes can be "virtually free".

7. Ultimate

We use this to mean the best, but it actually means the last item on a list – you know, after “penultimate”.

8. Irregardless

This just isn’t a word. You’re thinking of regardless.

9. Lie/lay

To lay something means to put an object down flat, “lie” means to put yourself in that position.

More: 13 words to avoid if you want to sound posh

More: This is the most common word on every country's Wikipedia

The Conversation (0)