Resources for Diction

Rules for Diction

1.  A--used before words and letters with an initial consonant sound

Examples: a CPA, a historical event

2.  An--used before words and letters with an initial vowel sound

Examples: an MBA, an honorable man

3.  Alot--incorrect spelling for a lot

4.  Accept--verb: to take

Example: I graciously accept your invitation.

5.  Except--verb: to omit; preposition: but

Example: Mothers of small children are excepted from jury duty.

Example:  Everyone was excused except Joe and me.

6.  Advice--noun (ending pronounced "ice")

Example: Most good advice falls on deaf ears.

7.  Advise--verb (rhymes with devise)

Example: The protestors were advised to submit a list of their grievances.

8.  Affect--verb: to influence

Example: The noise affects my concentration.

9.  Effect--noun: result; verb: to bring about

Example: His speech had a positive effect on me.

Example: The President has effected a new tax law.

10.  Alright--incorrect spelling for all right

11.  Almost--adverb meaning "nearly"; adjective or pronoun meaning "some" or "many"

Example: We sold almost all the tickets.

12.  Most--adjective or pronoun

Example: We sold most of the tickets.

13.  Among--used for relationships involving MORE THAN TWO people or things

Example: There is a silent closeness among the family members.

14.  Between--used for relationships involving ONLY TWO people or things

Example: Lois and Hattie had only fifty cents between them.

15.  Amount--used with singular (mass) nouns (see less)

Examples: amount of work, amount of credit

16.  Number--used with plural (countable) nouns (see fewer)

Examples: number of classes, number of mistakes

17.  As, as if, as though--used before clauses (see like)

Example: It looks as if (not like) it's going to rain.

Example: He acts as though (not like) he has Alzheimer's disease.

18.  Be sure and--misused for be sure to

19.  Try and--misused for try to

20.  Could of--misused for could have

21.  Should of--misused for should have/ might of--misused for might have/ would of--misused for would have

22.  Different than--used only when a clause follows

Example: The old plantation is different than it used to be.

23.  Different from--used always except when a clause follows

Example: Her hairdo is different from yours.

24.  Due to--used to introduce adjective phrases; means "caused by"

Example: His mistakes were due to carelessness.

25.  Because of--used to introduce adverb phrases; means "as a result of"

Example: He was dismissed because of his dishonesty.

26.  Due to the fact that--misused and wordy for because

27.  Enthuse/enthused--colloquialisms for enthusiastic

28.  Fewer--used with countable nouns (see number)

Examples: fewer cigarettes, fewer people

29.  Less--used with mass nouns or general amounts (see amount)

Examples: less time, less money

30.  Hopefully--used as an adverb meaning "in a hopeful manner," not as a sentence modifier

Example: The children waited hopefully for the packages to arrive.

WRONG: Hopefully, the team will win.

NOTE: Hopefully is usually misused when placed at the beginning of a sentence.

31.  Irregardless--misused for regardless

32.  Is when/is where--should not be used to introduce an explanation or a definition

WRONG: Plagiarism is when a writer presents the thoughts and ideas of another author as his own.

Correction: Plagiarism occurs when a writer presents the thoughts and ideas of another author as his own.

33.  Kind of/sort of--correctly used preceding nouns, not adjectives

Example: I enjoy reading this kind of magazine.

WRONG:  The movie was kind of boring.

Correction:  The movie was rather boring.

34.  Lead & led--Lead (pronounced "leed") means "to go first." Its principal parts are lead, leads, leading, led (rhymes with red), and (have) led.

Example: Priests lead lives of celibacy.

Example:  The man led a life of celibacy before he became a priest.

NOTE: The homonym for led is a noun.

Example: The lead in this pencil is broken.

35.  Lend--verb: to allow the use of (lending, lent, [have] lent)

Example: The credit union lends (not loans) money to members only.

Example:  I lent (not loaned) my book to her last week.

36.  Loan--noun: something lent for temporary use

Example: I need to establish credit so that I can be eligible for a loan.

37.  Lie--verb: to rest or recline (lying, lay, [have] lain)

Example: I lie on the couch every day.

Example:  I lay on the couch for hours yesterday.

Example:  The sweater is still lying on the couch.

38.  Lay--verb: to put or place (laying, laid, [have] laid)

Example: Where did he lay my brush?

Example:  I must have laid it down somewhere yesterday.

Example:  I'm always laying things down and forgetting where I laid them.

39.  Like--preposition used to introduce a phrase, not a clause (see as, as if, and as though)

Example: His features are unique like a fingerprint.

Example:  It looks like rain.

40.  Principal--noun: chief official; adjective: foremost, major Principle--noun: axiom, rule

Example: Her principal reasons for resigning were her principles of right and wrong.

41.  Reason is because/reason was because--misused for reason is that/reason was that

Example: The reason he was promoted is that (not is because) he worked exceptionally hard.

42.  Rise--verb: to go up (rising, rose, [have] risen)

Example: She must rise early in the morning to get to work on time.

43.  Raise--verb: to push up (raising, raised, [have] raised)

Example: The landlord must raise the rent to cover an increase in taxes.

44.  Sit--verb: to be seated (sitting, sat, [have] sat)

Example: Good students usually sit on the front row.

45.  Set--verb: to put, to place (setting, set, [have] set)

Example: Please set the paperwork on my desk.

Example:  Try to set a positive example for young people to follow.

46.  Suppose to/use to--incorrect spellings for supposed to and used to

47.  Than--conjunction

Example: Amy is a better tennis player than I. Then--adverb of time (often misused for than)

Example: The cashier rang up our sale; then he gave us our change.