Mastering Meanings of Misused Words

jan2017shutterstock_325157468Employers continue to complain about employees who can’t spell or who confuse common words. Poor language skills make employees and employers look bad. Try your skill with these sentences. Check your responses against the key and vow to master the definitions of any words you confuse.

1. In business reports writers must (site, cite, sight) their sources of information.

2. It is (to, too, two) soon to know whether either of the (to, too, two) plans will work.

3. My manager checks sales (everyday, every day) as part of his (everyday, every day) routine.

4. After the restructuring, the company (then, than) offered higher salaries (then, than) anyone expected.

5. (Their, There, They’re) going to put (their, there, they’re) backpacks over (their, there, they’re).

6. News of the merger immediately (effected, affected) the stock market.

7. Elena was surprised and (greatful, grateful) when she received the award.

8. His (principal, principle) reason for taking the job was its location.

9. The hotel (formally, formerly) known as the Sands (formally, formerly) reopened as the Oasis.

10.  If there are no (farther, further) objections, we will (precede, proceed) with the agenda items.

11. We should not (infer, imply) agreement with an Asian’s head nod; it may merely mean I hear what  you are saying.

12. The CEO had a (stationery, stationary) bicycle in his office.

13. So frightened was she that her eyes (wavered, waivered) from side to side.

14. When flames began to (envelop, envelope) the building, firefighters knew they were losing the battle.

15. Rick was certain he could finish the 16-week (coarse, course).

Instructors: Download this exercise here. Download a key to this exercise here.


2 thoughts on “Mastering Meanings of Misused Words

  1. kateditewigmorris

    Thanks! This is a great exercise I plan to use with my students. I’ve seen experienced professionals make the same errors, so let’s all stop it early!

    1. bizcombuzz

      Thank you, Kate. To err is human, but luckily we are creatures capable of learning. I’m noticing other “demon” pairs in the media. Here is a new one: “contingent” as in group of people, cohort vs. “contingency” meaning incident, eventuality.


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