Manners & Misdemeanors

Watch Your Grammar: 28 Most Interchanged English Words

Do you know when to use "in" and "at," "lose" and "loose," "bring" and "take," "me" and "I?"
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Me and I
“I” is used when you are referring to the subject of a sentence, while “me” is used when you are referring to the object of a sentence. The confusion usually starts when there are multiple subjects or objects in a statement. A simple cheat: Remove the other pronouns and check if the statement still makes sense.

Correct: [Manica and] I went to the party.
Incorrect: [Manica and] Me went to the party.

Correct: Mark told [Alicia and] me to go to the party.
Incorrect: Mark told [Alicia and] I to go to the party.


E.g. and i.e.
E.g. is short for the Latin phrase exempli gratia (make it easier to remember by associating it to "example given"), which means “for example,” while i.e. means “that is” or “specifically.”


Lie and lay
Lie means to recline, while lay means to put down. Remember that “lay” requires an object: What are you putting down? However, when used as the past tense of lie, the word lay doesn't require a direct object.


Come and go
Use “come” when referring to movements toward the speaker.

Come here.
Come to my office.
They came to my party at night.
I can’t wait to come back here.

Use “go” when referring to movements away from the speaker.

Go there.
Go to the beach next year.
They went to the party without me.
I can’t wait to go back there.


In and at
As prepositions of place, “in” and “at” tend to be confusing. The easiest way to differentiate them is to think in terms of size. “In” is used to indicate someone’s location within a large place such as a country or city.

John is in Spain for a conference.
He will be in Barcelona next week.

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“At” is for smaller, more specific locations such as buildings and exact addresses.

Ruth lives at 45 Sto. Domingo Street, Urdaneta Village, Makati City, but she is staying at a hotel while her house is under construction.

The caveat is that if we get into situational specifics, the correct preposition may change. If you want to communicate that something is inside a small place, use “in.”

The book is in the office.

But for general remarks about someone’s whereabouts, use “at.”

Adele is at the office.

You are not sure where she is specifically within the office building; you just know that she is at work.


Between and among
It’s easy to chalk this up to numbers: General knowledge says that “between” is used when two things are in discussion, and “among” for more than two. But it’s not always the case. The better way to differentiate them is to think that “between” is for things that are itemized as choices (may be two, or even more) and “among” for a general cluster of things.

She has to choose between Japan, China, and Hong Kong. Last year she chose among European countries.


Farther and further
“Farther” is used to indicate that something advanced in distance

He walked farther up north.

“Further” is for saying that something went beyond in degree.

It’s dangerous to probe further.

Note that some literary writers use “farther” even when any notion of distance isn’t readily apparent. To make way for metaphors and engage the reader in imaginative speculation, some writers don’t even bother with the difference.  


Bazaar and bizarre
“Bazaar” and “bizarre” are pronounced the same way but they mean different things. The former is a market of goods, while the latter is an adjective used to describe something strange or eccentric.

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A good memory device for this is the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. It’s not unusual for them to mention fabulous bazaars of clothes. Just think how funny to use the other word in the name: Harper’s Bizaare. Sounds like a different magazine.  


Discreet and discrete
If you mean someone who can keep a secret, practice good judgment, or keep a low profile, use “discreet.” "Discrete" is used to say that something is a standout event or to describe things as distinct from one another.


Premier and premiere 
A single letter makes a world of difference for these two words. Use "premiere" when referring to the first public debut of a television show, musical, film, or any type of performance. “Premier” simply means the best or the most important and is rooted in the word "premium."


Lose and loose 
This is a very common mistake among Filipinos. The word “lose” has many given definitions, but the main uses include misplacing a valuable, being unable to find someone or something, and the failure to win a game or contest. Meanwhile, “loose” is an adjective used to describe something that is not tight-fitting, such as a loose thread on your blouse or a loose knot.


Bring and take
The secret to always remembering which of these two words to use is the movement that they imply you take. To bring is to move yourself and something or someone towards a place, while to take is to move yourself and something or someone away from a place.


In and into
The more commonly used “in” prompts a location to the inside of, say, a room or an area, while “into” implies a direction, something moving towards another thing.


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Compliment and complement
When you offer a friend a remark of approval or admiration, that is a compliment. It’s an expression of something good or your best wishes. If you’d like to recommend which Chardonnay pairs best with a seafood dish, you would like to say which one complements the other. A complement is something that fills up or completes something else to make it better.

 

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Nicole Limos
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Nicole’s career in publishing began in 2006. Before becoming Town & Country online’s managing editor, she moved from features editor to beauty editor of the title’s print edition. “The lessons in publishing are countless,” she says. “The most crucial ones for me? That to write best about life, you need to live your life. And another I still struggle to live by: ‘Brevity is a virtue; verbosity is a vice.’”
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Hannah Lazatin
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Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
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