8 ways to avoid misusing words

Grammar Girl’s new book lists 101 frequently abused words—and promises you’ll never confuse them again.

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Linguists know grammar inside and out, yet they often pooh-pooh the very notion that any usage current among native speakers can be incorrect.

But if you are slamming out copy in the real world, it helps to follow the rules—particularly when it comes to words that are commonly mixed up.

So we were pleased to run across a book from Mignon Fogarty, whose Grammar Girl is one of our favorite sites of its kind on the Internet.

The title is “Grammar Girl’s 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again,” and it is slender enough to carry in a hip pocket, at least if you aren’t wearing baggy trousers that might slip down to your ankles with the added weight of a book.

You could read the whole thing on a train commute into the big city and back, yet it’s worth keeping at hand on your desk. Fogarty is fond of examples from TV and the movies but finds room to quote Shakespeare, Thackeray and Byron.

Gentle reader: If lists of rules make you see red, read no further. Fogarty isn’t going to track you down, break your fingers and edit your copy against your will. Those interested, read on for a few tripwires worth watching for:

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