Word Choice


Bring and take are very easily confused as their meanings are similar. To prevent confusing these two words, remember that bring means to carry something towards yourself, while take means to carry something away from yourself.


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chester drawers/chest of drawers

Chester Drawers

This was a post on Facebook.

This is both a pronunciation and spelling issue. From hearing the mispronunciation, many assume that the word is “Chester drawers” (as if Chester were a brand name) and write it as such. But it is actually three words: “chest of drawers” (a chest made up of several drawers).

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Is it a complimentary gift or a complementary gift?1

Were you paid a compliment or a complement?2

Do peanut butter and jelly compliment or complement each other?3 (more…)

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When something is continual, it is a frequent and repeated occurrence.

The phone rang continually throughout the day, interrupting my concentration.

When something is continuous, it is nonstop, without interruption.

Playing continuous white noise at night can help with falling and staying asleep.

Note: Be aware that although some writers make a distinction between continual and continuous, the two words are often considered synonyms and used as such. The one instance in which continuous, never continual, should be used is in the physical properties of something—for example, a continuous line.

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couple/couple of

If you’ve ever read a sentence like the one below and thought there was a word missing, you were correct.

I’ll have a couple scoops of ice cream.

What’s missing? It’s the preposition of after couple.

The word couple is different from the number two. Though “two scoops” is correct, couple requires the addition of the preposition of. Couple without the of is informal and should be avoided in writing and professional communication.

The sentence should read:

I’ll have a couple of scoops of ice cream.

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Daylight Saving(s) Time

Every spring, citizens in many places around the world set their clocks forward an hour to Daylight Saving Time—or is it Daylight Savings Time (with an s at the end of Saving)?

Because the point is the saving of daylight, it seems more correct for it to be Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time.  (There are not multiple savings.) The singular is the original form and seems to be the standard. However, it’s common for the plural form to be used. Savings is often heard when the time change is mentioned by the media or in conversation. And sometimes Savings is even printed on calendars.

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Something (or someone) that is discreet is not easily seen or noticed.

If you need to leave the meeting early, please be discreet.

Something that is discrete is distinct or separate.

The project will be completed in several discrete steps.

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See immigrate/emigrate.

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See literally/figuratively.

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If you skip dessert, will you forego or forgo it?

Forego is to precede or come before.

Forgo (without an “e”) is to do without.

The introductory paragraph should forego the body of your essay.

I decided to forgo buying a new car in order to save money.

In most cases, the intended word is probably forgo, but the “e” is inserted, resulting in a spelling error. (Forego is not as commonly used.)

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