By Paul Brians
The 3rd version of universal mistakes in English utilization has been revised and accelerated via 20 percentage. It is still an invaluable and enjoyable consultant to mixed-up, mangled expressions, overseas language fake pas, complicated phrases, and typically mispronounced phrases.
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Additional resources for Common Errors in English Usage: Third Edition
The result is mistakes like "deep seeded. " The expression has nothing to do with a feeling being planted deep within one, but instead refers to its being seated firmly within one's breast: "My aversion to anchovies is deepseated. " Compounding their error, most people who misuse this phrase leave the hyphen out. Tennis players may be seeded, but not feelings. *The notion that English should be spelled as it is pronounced is widespread, but history is against the reformers in most cases. Pronunciation is often a poor guide to spelling. The veneration of certain political movements for the teaching of reading through phonics is nicely caricatured by a tshirt slogan I've seen: "Hukt awn fonix. " DEFENCE/DEFENSE If you are writing for a British publication, use "defence," but the American "defense" has the advantages of greater antiquity, similarity to the words from which it was derived, and consistency with words like "defensible. " DEFINATE/DEFINITE Any vowel in an unstressed position can sometimes have the sound linguists call a "schwa:" "uh. " The result is that many people tend to guess when they hear this sound, but "definite" is definitely the right spelling. Also common are various misspellings of "definitely," including the bizarre "defiantly. " DEFAMATION/DEFORMATION Someone who defames you, seeking to destroy your reputation (making you illfamed), is engaging in defamation of character. Only if someone succeeded in actually making you a worse person could you claim that they had deformed your character. DEFUSE/DIFFUSE You defuse a dangerous situation by treating it like a bomb and removing its fuse; to diffuse, in contrast, is to spread something out: "Bob's cheap cologne diffused throughout the room, wrecking the winetasting. " DEGRADE/DENIGRATE/DOWNGRADE Many people use "downgrade" instead of "denigrate" to mean "defame, slander. " "Downgrade" is entirely different in meaning. When something is downgraded, it is lowered in grade (usually made worse), not just considered worse. "When the president of the company fled to Rio with fifteen million dollars, its bonds were downgraded to junk bond status. " "Degrade" is much more flexible in meaning. It can mean to lower in status or rank (like "downgrade") or to corrupt or make contemptible; but it always has to do with actual reduction in value rather than mere insult, like "denigrate. " Most of the time when people use "downgrade" they would be better off instead using "insult," "belittle," or "sneer at. " DEGREE TITLES When you are writing phrases like "bachelor's degree," "master of arts degree" and "doctor of philosophy degree" use all lowercase spelling. Less formally, these are often abbreviated to "bachelor's," "master's," and "doctorate": "I earned my master's at Washington State University. " Be careful not to omit the apostrophes where needed. The only time to capitalize the spelledout forms of degree names is when you are specifying a particular degree's name: "Master of English Composition.