Common Errors Starting with F

factoid

The “-oid” ending in English is normally added to a word to indicatethat an item is not the real thing. A humanoid is not quite human.Originally “factoid” was an ironic term indicating that the “fa...

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fair vs fare

<p>Fair can mean a beautiful and pleasing appearance of a person with a pure and natural quality. As regarding to skin tone, it means light in color or pale.</p><pre>A. "The fair skinned lady came ...

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faithful vs fateful

That decisive, highly significant day is not “faithful” but “fateful.” Although the phrase “fateful day” can refer to a day significant in a positive way (“the fateful day that I first met the my l...

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far be it for me vs far be it from me

The mangled expression “far be it for me” is probably influenced by a similar saying: “it’s not for me to say.” The standard expression is “far be it from me” (may this possibility be far away from...

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farther vs further

Some authorities (like the Associated Press) insist on “farther” to refer to physical distance and on “further” to refer to an extent of time or degree, but others treat the two words as interchang...

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fastly vs fast

“Fastly” is an old form that has died out in English. Interest in socceris growing fast, not “fastly.”

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fatal vs fateful

A “fatal” event is a deadly one; a “fateful” one is determined by fate. If there are no casualties left lying at the scene—whether mangled corpses or failed negotiations—the word you are seeking is...

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faun vs fawn

A faun is a part-goat, part human-shaped mythological being. The most famous faun in modern literature is Mr. Tumnus in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia novels.A fawn is a young deer; and to fawn over someone is...

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faze vs phase

“Faze” means to embarrass or disturb, but is almost always used in the negative sense, as in “the fact that the overhead projector bulb was burned out didn’t faze her.” “Phase” is a noun or verb ha...

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fearful vs fearsome

To be “fearful” is to be afraid. To be “fearsome” is to cause fear in others. Remember that someone who is fierce is fearsome rather than fearful.

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febuary vs february

Few people pronounce the first R in “February” distinctly, soit is not surprising that it is often omitted in spelling. This poor month isshort on days; don’t further impoverish it by robbing it of...

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federal (capitalization)

Some governmental style guidelines call for “federal” to be capitalized whenever it refers to a function or part of the federal government of the United States. However, in most contexts it is capi...

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feelings for vs feelings about

When someone says “I’m developing feelings for you,” the message is “I’m falling in love with you.” Feelings for are always positive feelings. In contrast, feelings about something or someone can b...

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feint vs faint

<p>To feint is to make a movement to trick or distract someone. The movement itself is also called a feint. This word is most often used in boxing or fencing. </p><pre>“Jack feinted with his left a...

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fellow classmate vs classmate

<p>Your classmate is a person in your class in school, college, or university. </p><p>“I met Minh when he was my classmate in English class.”</p><p> To say ‘fellow classmate’ is redundant because t...

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female vs woman

When referring to an adult female of the human species it sounds weird and may even be considered insulting to use the noun “female” instead of “woman.” “The female pointed the gun at the cop” shou...

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fiance vs fiancee

<p>A Fiancé is someone engaged to be married. This is often used for the male gender (masculine).</p><pre>"I should have introduced my fiancé to you earlier when he visited."</pre><p>A Fiancée on t...

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firey vs fiery

<p>Fiery means burning and glowing relating to fire that is easily ignited. It is a feeling of spirited and highly filled with emotions.</p><pre>"My heart burns fiery because of your love."</pre><p...

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first annual

Some people get upset when the “first annual” occurrence of some eventis announced, arguing that it doesn’t become annual until it’s beenrepeated. But “first annual” simply means “the first of what...

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first floor vs ground floor

In the US, the first floor of a building is also the ground floor; but in Europe the first floor is the floor above the ground floor, and the second floor is the one above that. This is important i...

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fiscal vs physical

<p>Physical is an adjective that means ‘having to do with the human body’. We talk about physical fitness or hard physical labor. The adjective fiscal, on the other hand, means ‘related to money’. ...

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fit the bill vs fill the bill

Originally a “bill” was any piece of writing, especially a legal document (we still speak of bills being introduced into Congress in this sense). More narrowly, it also came to mean a list such as ...

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fittest

In evolutionary terms, “the survival of the fittest” refers not to physical fitness in the sense of vigor and strength, but to the ability to reproduce successfully. Rabbits and ants are fitter to ...

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fixing vs preparing

“Fixing” as a synonym of “getting ready” is a feature of several dialects of U.S. English, especially rural and Southern ones: “I’m fixin’ to take this pie over to the parsonage.” Using it outside ...

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flair vs flare

“Flair” is conspicuous talent: “She has a flair for organization.” “Flare” is either a noun meaning “flame” or a verb meaning to blaze with light or to burst into anger.

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flak vs flack

“Flak” is WW II airman’s slang for shells being fired at you in the air, so to catch a lot of flak is to feel in danger of being shot down. However, most civilians these days have never heard of “f...

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flaunt vs flout

To flaunt is to show off: you flaunt your new necklace by wearing it to work. “Flout” has a more negative connotation; it means to treat with contempt some rule or standard. The cliché is “to flout...

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flesh out vs flush out

To “flesh out” an idea is to give it substance, as a sculptor adds clay flesh to a skeletal armature. To “flush out” a criminal is to drive him or her out into the open. The latter term is derived ...

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floppy disk vs hard disk

Floppy disks have just about disappeared from the computer world, but even when they were common it was only in the early years that they were literally floppy. The fact that a 3 1/2"diskette is en...

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flounder vs founder

As a verb, “founder” means “to fill with water and sink.” It is also used metaphorically of various kinds of equally catastrophic failures. In contrast, to flounder is to thrash about in the water ...

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fluke

A fluke was originally a lucky stroke in billiards, and it still means a fortunate chance event. It is nonstandard to use the word to label an unfortunate chance event. There are lucky flukes, but ...

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flys vs flies

<p>Flies is possible to be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it refers to a type of tiny winged insect often attracted to putrid smells and can be often found in dumps, garbage sites etc.&nbsp;</p> <pr...

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focus around vs focus on

The popular expression “focus around” makes little sense. An example: “Next quarter’s advertising will focus around our line of computer games.” It is presumably meant to convey something like “con...

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followup vs follow up, follow-up

A doctor can follow up with a patient during a follow-up visit (note that the adjectival form requires a hyphen). Neither phrase should be turned into a single hyphenless word.

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font vs typeface

Although “font” has largely replaced “typeface” in common usage, professionals who deal with type prefer to distinguish between the two. “Typeface” refers to letter design; Times, Helvetica, and Ga...

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foot vs feet

<p>Foot refers to the lower part of the leg and also a measurement for distance, height and length. It is in its singular form.</p><pre>A. "The wound on his foot has been infected."</pre><pre>B. "I...

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footnotes vs endnotes

About the time that computers began to make the creation and printing offootnotes extremely simple and cheap, style manuals began to urge ashift away from them to endnotes printed at the ends of ch...

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for vs fore vs four

<p>For is a conjunction that signals something or someone directed at or intended to belong to.</p><pre>"I bought the hair cream for James."</pre><p>Fore means forward, situated in front of somethi...

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forbidding vs foreboding vs formidable

“Foreboding” means “ominous,” as in “The sky was a foreboding shade of gray” (i.e. predictive of a storm). The prefix “fore-” with an E, often indicates futurity, e. g. “forecast,” “foreshadowing” ...

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forceful vs forcible vs forced

These words sometimes overlap, but generally “forceful” means “powerful”(“he imposed his forceful personality on the lions”) while “forcible”must be used instead to describe the use of force (“the ...

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forego vs forgo

The E in “forego” tells you it has to do with going before. It occurs mainly in the expression “foregone conclusion,” a conclusion arrived at in advance. “Forgo” means to abstain from or do without...

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forever vs for ever

UK writers most often use the two-word phrase “for ever,” whereas Americans strongly prefer the one-word form “forever.” Each nationality is liable to think the other is making a mistake.

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for free

Some people object to “for free” because any sentence containing thephrase will read just as well without the “for,” but it is standardEnglish.

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formally vs formerly

These two are often mixed up in speech. If you are doing something in a formal manner, you are behaving formally; but if you previously behaved differently, you did so formerly.

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for one vs for one thing

People often say “for one” when they mean “for one thing”: “I really want to go to the movie. For one, Kevin Spacey is my favorite actor.” (One what?) The only time you should use “for one” by itse...

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forsee vs foresee

<p>Foresee is the act of anticipating or predicting an action or reaction way before it happens.</p><pre>"The future I foresee is gloomy for both of you."</pre><p>Forsee is the misspelling of the a...

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for sure vs sure

In casual speech, when you agree with somebody’s statement, you may say “for sure.” Your date says ”That was outstanding tiramisu.” and you, wanting to show how in tune you are, reply “For sure!” Y...

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fortuitous vs fortunate

“Fortuitous” events happen by chance; they need not be fortunate events, only random ones: “It was purely fortuitous that the meter reader came along five minutes before I returned to my car.” Alth...

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forward vs forwards vs foreword

<p>Forward is an adjective which refers to a movement to the front, it is also used in expectation of something.</p><pre>"He moved forward or I am looking forward to the party."</pre><p>When used a...

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fourty vs forty

Unlike ninety, where 'e' is retained in forty the 'u' is dropped when we go from four to forty. Here is an exmaple of forty usage: You missed what I just said. You were having your forty winks duri...

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fowl swoop vs fell swoop

Poor Macduff, learning that Macbeth has had his wife and children murdered, cries “What, all my pretty chickens and their dam/At one fell swoop?” Thus enters the language a popular phrase meaning “...

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frankenstein

“Frankenstein” is the name of the scientist who creates the monster in Mary Shelley’s novel. The monster itself has no name, but is referred to popularly as “Frankenstein’s monster.”

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frankly

Sentences beginning with this word are properly admissions of something shocking or unflattering to the speaker; but when a public spokesperson for a business or government is speaking, it almost a...

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french dip with au jus vs french dip

This diner classic consists of sliced roast beef on a more or less firm bun, with a side dish of broth in which to dip it. “Au jus” means “with broth” so adding “with” to “au jus” is redundant. In ...

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freshman vs freshmen

<p>Freshman means a student in his/her first year in college, high school or university. It is a singular word representing one person.</p><pre>"My roommate is a freshman."</pre><p>Freshmen is obvi...

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from . . . to

“From soup to nuts” makes sense because soup was the traditional first course in a formal meal, nuts the last. Similarly “from A to Z” makes sense because these are the first and last letters of th...

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full proof vs foolproof

If you want to get credit for solving a complicated mathematical problem, you will have to provide a full proof. But if you’re trying to make something as easy as possible, you want to make it fool...

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fully well vs full well

Back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was common for “full” to modify adverbs. The only instance in which this continues today is the traditional phrase “full well,” mostly in “knowing full we...

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fulsome

In modern usage, “fulsome” has two inconsistent meanings. To some people it means “offensive, overdone,” so “fulsome praise” to them would be disgustingly exaggerated praise.To other people it mean...

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functionality

You’ll find “functionality” in dictionaries, but it’s almost always used as a pretentious and inaccurate substitute for “function” or ”usefulness.”

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furl vs furrow

<p>Furrow is used to express worry over something or an action.</p><pre>"He furrowed while thinking about last night."</pre><p>Furl is the act of lowering a sail and wrapping it round the mast to s...

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fushia vs fuchsia

The flowers known as “fuchsias” are named after German Renaissance botanist Leonhard Fuchs. Although the word is pronounced “FYOO-sha” in English, it should not be misspelled “fushia.”

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for goodness’ sakes vs for goodness’ sake

Picky folks point out that since the mild expletive “for goodness’ sake” is a euphemism for “for God’s sake” the second word should not be pluralized to “sakes”; but heavens to Betsy, if little thi...

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first name vs given name

Now that few people know what a “surname” is, we usually use the term“last name” to designate a family name; but in a host of languages thefamily name comes first. For instance, “Kawabata” was the ...

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fine toothcomb vs fine-tooth comb

Brush your teeth, but don’t comb them. Although the spelling “fine toothcomb” is common enough to be listed as a variant in dictionaries, it looks pretty silly to people who prefer the traditional ...

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