Common Errors Starting with E

english vs british

Americans tend to use the terms “British” and “English” interchangeably, but Great Britain is made up of England plus Scotland and Wales. If you are referring to this larger entity, the word you wa...

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e.g. vs i.e.

When you mean “for example,” use e.g. It is an abbreviation for theLatin phrase exempli gratia. When you mean “that is,” use “i.e.” It isan abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est. Either can be u...

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each

“Each” as a subject is always singular: think of it as equivalent to “every one.” The verb whose subject it is must also be singular. Some uses, like “to keep them from fighting, each dog has been ...

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early adapter vs early adopter

<p>An early adopter refers to someone who makes use of something new very quickly.</p><pre>"I am an early adopter; I couldn’t wait for a day after the new iPhone was released before heading out &nb...

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earmarks vs hallmark

The distinguishing cuts made into an animal’s ear are its earmarks. They work like brands to mark ownership. Originally gold and silver articles assayed at Goldsmith’s Hall in London received a “Ha...

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earth, moon

Soil is lower-case “earth.” And in most uses even the planet itselfremains humbly in lower-case letters: “peace on earth.” But inastronomical contexts, the Earth comes into its own with a proud ini...

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easedrop vs eavesdrop

The area under the eaves right next to the front of a building used to be called the “eavesdrop,” and somebody listening in secretively from such a position came to be called an “eavesdropper.” Unf...

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ecology vs environment

“Ecology” is the study of living things in relationship to their environment. The word can also be used to describe the totality of such relationships; but it should not be substituted for “environ...

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economic vs economical

Something is economical if it saves you money; but if you’re talkingabout the effect of some measure on the world’s economy, it’s aneconomic effect.

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ect. vs etc.

<p>Etc is a popular abbreviation of the Latin phrase "etcetera" which translates to "..and the rest" in English. It is often used in writing when a long list can not be continued. </p><pre>"I'm on ...

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eek vs eke

If you’re startled by a snake that sneaks past you in a creek, you might squeak “eek!” “Eek” is just a noise you make when frightened.But if you are barely squeaking by on a slim salary, you’re try...

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efforting vs trying

Among the new verbs created out of nouns, “efforting” is one of the most bizarre and unnecessary, and has been met with a chorus of objections. You are not “efforting” to get your report in on time...

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ei vs ie

The familiar rule is that English words are spelled with the “I” beforethe “E” unless they follow a “C,” as in “receive.” But it is importantto add that words in which the vowel sound is an “A” lik...

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either vs or, neither vs nor

When making comparisons, “either” goes with “or” and “neither” with “nor”: “I want to buy either a new desktop computer or a laptop, but I have neither the cash nor the credit I need.”“Either” ofte...

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either are vs either is

As a subject, “either” is singular. it’s the opposite of “both,” andrefers to one at a time: “Either ketchup or mustard is good on a hotdog.” But if “either” is modifying a subject in an “either . ...

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electrocute vs shock

To electrocute is to kill using electricity. If you live to tell the tale, you’ve been shocked, but not electrocuted. For the same reason, the phrase “electrocuted to death” is a redundancy.

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elegy vs eulogy

A speech praising the deceased person at a funeral is a eulogy. An elegy is a poetic form, usually with a sad or thoughtful subject. It can also be a poem on any subject written in the form called ...

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elicit vs illicit

<p>Elicit involves the use of wit and logic to arrive at the truth by means of evoking feelings, responses and emotions. It is getting information from acute deduction.</p><pre>"The FBI agent solve...

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ellipses

Those dots that come in the middle of a quotation to indicate somethingomitted are called an “ellipsis” (plural “ellipses”): “Tex told Sam toget the . . . cow out of the bunk house.” Here Tex’s lan...

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email vs e-mail

Although the spelling “email” is extremely popular, many people prefer “e-mail,” which follows the same pattern as “e-commerce.” The “E” stands for “electronic.”

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embaress vs embarrass

You can pronounce the last two syllables as two distinct words as a jog to memory, except that then the word may be misspelled “embareass,” which isn’t right either. You also have to remember the d...

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emergent vs emergency

<p>Emergent in botany means a plant whose root system grows underwater but whose shoots and flowers grows up and above the water. It is the coming into view or existence of someone or something.</p...

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emigrate vs immigrate

To “emigrate” is to leave a country. The E at the beginning of the word is related to the E in other words having to do with going out, such as “exit.” “Immigrate,” in contrast, looks as if it migh...

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eminent vs imminent vs immanent

By far the most common of these words is “eminent,” meaning “prominent,famous.” “Imminent,” in phrases like “facing imminent disaster,” means“threatening.” It comes from Latin minere, meaning “to p...

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empathy vs sympathy

If you think you feel just like another person, you are feeling empathy.If you just feel sorry for another person, you’re feeling sympathy.Sometimes people say they “emphasize” with someone when th...

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emphasize on vs emphasize

You can place emphasis on something, or you can emphasize it; but youcan’t emphasize on it or stress on it, though you can place stress onit.

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emulate vs imitate

People generally know what “imitate” means, but they sometimes don’t understand that “emulate” is a more specialized word with a purely positive function, meaning to try to equal or match. Thus if ...

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enamored by vs enamored of

If you’re crazy about ferrets, you’re enamored of them. It is less common but still acceptable to say “enamored with”; but if you say you are enamored by ferrets, you’re saying that ferrets are cra...

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endemic vs epidemic

“Endemic” is in danger of losing its core meaning through confusion with “epidemic.” An endemic condition is one characteristic of a particular region, population, or environment: “sore thumbs are ...

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engine vs motor

<p>Motor is any machine or device that converts any form of energy into mechanical energy or imparts motion. It has the colloquial meaning of an automobile or motor car.</p><pre>"She has excellent ...

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enjoy to vs enjoy -ing

The expression “enjoy to” (or “enjoyed to”) is nonstandard, influenced by “like to.” You don’t enjoy to jog; you either enjoy jogging or like to jog.

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enormity vs enormousness

Originally these two words were synonymous, but “enormity” got whittled down to meaning something monstrous or outrageous. Don’t wonder at the “enormity” of the Palace of Versailles unless you wish...

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enquire vs inquire

These are alternative spellings of the same word. “Enquire” is perhapsslightly more common in the UK, but either is acceptable in the US.

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ensuite

Americans who have wandered chilly London hallways in the middle of the night in search of a toilet will appreciate learning the peculiar British meaning of the word “ensuite.”In French, a set of t...

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enthuse vs state enthusiastically

“Enthuse” is a handy word and “state enthusiastically” is not nearly sostriking; but unfortunately “enthuse” is not acceptable in the mostformal contexts.

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entomology vs etymology

Entomology is the study of insects, like ants (“ant” looks like “ent-”)but etymology is the study of the history of words (from Greek,originally meaning “the true meaning of words”).

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envelop vs envelope

To wrap something up in a covering is to envelop it (pronounced “enVELLup” ). The specific wrapping you put around a letter is an envelope (pronounced variously, but with the accent on the first sy...

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envious vs jealous

Although these are often treated as synonyms, there is a difference. Youare envious of what others have that you lack. Jealousy, on the otherhand, involves wanting to hold on to what you do have. Y...

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enviroment vs environment

The second N in “environment” is seldom pronounced distinctly, so it’s not surprising that is often omitted in writing. If you know the related word “environs” it may help remind you.

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epic vs epoch

<p>Epic is an extended long narrative poem in elevated and dignified language celebration the feats of a deity or demigod or other legendary heroes. It has a colloquial meaning of extending beyond ...

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epicenter

The precise location where the earth slips beneath the surface in an earthquake is its hypocenter (or focus) and the spot up on the surface where people feel the quake is its epicenter. Geologists ...

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epigram vs epigraph vs epitaph vs epithet

An epigram is a pithy saying, usually humorous. Mark Twain was responsible for many striking, mostly cynical epigrams, such as “Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish t...

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epitomy vs epitome

<p>Epitome refers to a perfect example or representative of a characteristics, class, attribute etc.</p><pre>"Most guys call Mary an epitome of beauty."</pre><p>Epitomy is an unacceptable misspelli...

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eponymous vs self-titled

It has become popular among certain critics to call recordings named after their performing artists “eponymous.” Thus the album by the Beatles titled The Beatles would be an eponymous album. (Don’t...

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equally as vs equally, as

It is redundant to follow “equally” with “as.” If you have written “using a tanning bed is equally as harmful as sunbathing” you should drop the “equally”: “using a tanning bed is as harmful as sun...

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error vs err

<p>"To err is human, to purr is feline." --Robert Byrne. </p><p> Error is the state, quality and condition of being wrong. It is a mistake or an accidental wrong action or a false statement not ma...

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espouse vs expound vs expand

The core meaning of “espouse” is “marry.” When you espouse an idea or cause in public you are proclaiming that you are wed to it, you are promoting it as yours.When you expound an idea you are expl...

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et al.

“Et al.’ is a scholarly abbreviation of the Latin phrase et alia, which means “and others.” It is commonly used when you don’t want to name all the people or things in a list, and works in roughly ...

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ethics vs morals vs morale

Strictly speaking, ethics are beliefs: if you have poor ethics, you have lax standards; but your morals are your behavior: if you have poor morals, you behave badly. You can have high standards but...

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ethnic

It’s misleading to refer to minority groups as “ethnics” since everyonehas ethnicity, even a dominant majority.

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every

“Every,” “everybody” and “everyone” and related expressions are normallytreated as singular in American English: “Every woman I ask out tells meshe already has plans for Saturday night.” However, c...

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everyday

“Everyday” is a perfectly good adjective, as in “I’m most comfortable inmy everyday clothes.” The problem comes when people turn the adverbialphrase “every day” into a single word. It is incorrect ...

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everyone vs every one

“Everyone” means “everybody” and is used when you want to refer to all the people in a group: “Everyone in my family likes spaghetti carbonara.”But if you’re referring to the individuals who make u...

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every since vs ever since

<p>Ever since is an English expression which means 'from that time until now' </p><pre>"Ever since I saw her, her loves has settled on my heart."</pre><p>Every since is a totally incorrect expressi...

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ever so often vs every so often

In UK English people sometimes speak of something that happens frequently as happening “ever so often.”But when something happens only occasionally, it happens every so often.

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everytime vs every time

<p>Every time is the correct positioning for the word. It means at each instance or occurrence with a recurring factor evident.</p><p>"He comes visiting every time."</p><p>Everytime on the other ha...

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evidence to

You can provide evidence to a court, even enough evidence to convictsomeone; but the standard expression “is evidence of” requires “of”rather than “to” in sentences like this: “Driving through the ...

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evoke vs invoke

<p>Evoke means to force the manifestation of a picture, image or emotion in someone's mind and imagination.</p><pre>"The pastor prayed and prayed till he evoked the evil phantom away from her soul....

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exact same vs exactly the same

In casual speech we often say things like, “The fruitcake he gave me wasthe exact same one I’d given him last Christmas,” but in formal Englishthe phrase is “exactly the same.”

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exalt vs exult

When you celebrate joyfully, you exult. When you raise something high(even if only in your opinion), you exalt it. Neither word has an “H” init.

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exasperate vs exacerbate

<p>Exasperate is the act of provoking, vexing, frustrating, annoying a person or a being to a point where they can no longer ward it off.</p><pre>"You seem exasperated, what is wrong with you?"</pr...

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exception proves the rule

The Latin original of this saying dates back over two millennia to Cicero. It means if you make an exception to a rule, a rule must exist. If you say “in case of fire students may use the emergency...

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exceptional vs exceptionable

If you take exception (object) to something, you find it“exceptionable.” The more common word is “exceptional,” applied tothings that are out of the ordinary, usually in a positive way: “theseare e...

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excrable vs execrable

When you execrate (detest) something, you find it execrable. The second syllable is not often clearly pronounced, but that’s no excuse for leaving it out when you spell the word.

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exited vs excited

A lot of people get so excited when they’re typing that they mistakenly write they are “exited,” and their spelling checkers don’t tell them they’ve made an error because “exited” is actually a wor...

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exorcise vs exercise

tnexorcise/exercise You can try to exorcise evil spirits using an exorcist; but when you give your body a workout, it’s exercise.

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expensive, cheap

A costly item is expensive, but the price itself is not expensive; neither does a cheap item have a cheap price. Prices are high or low, not expensive or cheap.

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exponential

Something grows exponentially when it repeatedly grows by multiples ofsome factor in a rapidly accelerating fashion. Don’t use the wordloosely to refer to ordinary rapid, but steady, growth.See als...

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expressed vs express

<p>Express is an action of conveying some ideas through words, statement or specific instructions. It is also used to refer to a train as an effective mode of transport.</p><pre>A. "I tried to expr...

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expresses that vs says that

“In her letter Jane expresses that she is getting irritated with me for not writing” should be corrected to “In her letter Jane says that. ” You can express an idea or a thought, but you can’t ev...

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expresso vs espresso

I’ve read several explanations of the origin of this word: the coffee is made expressly for you upon your order, or the steam is expressed through the grounds, or (as most people suppose—and certai...

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extend vs extent

<p>Extend means to increase in extent or cause to last for a longer period of time.</p><pre>"I hope they extend the duration for our tuition payment."</pre><p>Extent is the space, area, volume to w...

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extended, extensive

“Extended” has to do with time, “extensive” with space. An extended tour lasts a long time; an extensive tour covers a lot of territory.

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extract revenge vs exact revenge

The use of a rare sense of “exact” confuses people, but the traditional phrase is “exact revenge”, not the seemingly more logical “extract revenge” or “enact revenge.”

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