Common Errors Starting with I

isreal vs israel

To remember how to spell “Israel” properly, try pronouncing it the wayIsraelis do when they’re speaking English: “ISS-rah-el.”

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in the fact that vs by the fact that

Many people mistakenly write “in the fact that” when they mean simply“in that” in sentences like “It seemed wiser not to go to work in thefact that the boss had discovered the company picnic money ...

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idea vs ideal

<p>An idea is a result of a mental activity like thinking formed on the mind or recalled by memory.</p><pre>"Delilah has once again proven how smart she is by presenting a magnificent businessidea ...

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idle vs idol

Something or someone inactive is idle. The word can also mean “lazy” (“the idle rich”). Unemployed workers are said to be idle, fired ones to have been idled. A car engine can idle.Someone you admi...

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if vs whether

“If” is used frequently in casual speech and writing where some otherswould prefer “whether”: “I wonder if you would be willing to dress up asa giant turnip for the parade?” Revise to “I wonder whe...

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if not

“He was smart if not exactly brilliant.” In this sort of expression, “if not” links a weaker with a stronger word with a related meaning. Other examples: “unattractive if not downright ugly,” “reas...

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ignorant vs stupid

A person can be ignorant (not knowing some fact or idea) without beingstupid (incapable of learning because of a basic mental deficiency). Andthose who say, “That’s an ignorant idea” when they mean...

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illinois

It annoys people from this state when people pronounce the final syllable in “Illinois” to rhyme with “noise.” The final S in “Illinois” is silent.

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immaculate conception vs virgin birth

The doctrine of “immaculate conception” (the belief that Mary was conceived without inheriting original sin) is often confused with the doctrine of the “virgin birth” (the belief that Mary gave bir...

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impact

One (very large) group of people thinks that using “impact” as a verb is just nifty: “The announcement of yet another bug in the software will strongly impact the price of the company’s stock.” Ano...

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impactful vs influential

Many people in business and education like to speak of things that have an impact as being “impactful,” but this term does not appear in most dictionaries and is not well thought of by traditionali...

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impassible vs impassable

“Impassible” is an unusual word meaning “incapable of suffering” or “unfeeling.” The normal word for the latter meaning is “impassive.” But “impassible” is most often a spelling error for “impassab...

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impeach

To impeach a public official is to bring formal charges against him or her. It is not, as many people suppose, to remove the charged official from office. Impeachment must be followed by a formal t...

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impertinent vs irrelevant

“Impertinent” looks as if it ought to mean the opposite of “pertinent,” andindeed it once did; but for centuries now its meaning in ordinary speech has beennarrowed to “impudent,” specifically in r...

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imply vs infer

These two words, which originally had quite distinct meanings, have become so blended together that most people no longer distinguish between them. If you want to avoid irritating the rest of us, u...

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incase vs in case

Just in case you haven’t figured this out already: the expression “in case” is two words, not one. There is a brand of equipment covers sold under the incase brand, but that’s a very different matt...

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incent, incentivize vs encourage

Business folks sometimes use “incent” to mean “create an incentive,” butit’s not standard English. “Incentivize” is even more widely used, butstrikes many people as an ugly substitute for “encourage.”

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incidence vs incidents vs instances

<p>Incidence is the act of something or an event occurring or happening. It usually refers to the frequency of something.</p><pre>"High incidence of sports injuries among high school students has w...

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includes

When listing members of a group, use “includes” only if your list is incomplete. A baseball team includes a pitcher, a right fielder, and a catcher. If you are going to list every single member of ...

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incredible

The other day I heard a film reviewer praise a director because he created “incredible characters,” which would literally mean unbelievable characters. What the reviewer meant to say, of course, wa...

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incredulous vs incredible

“When Jessica said that my performance at the karaoke bar had been incredible, I was incredulous.” I hope Jessica was using “incredible” in the casual sense of “unbelievably good” but I knew I used...

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indepth vs in depth

You can make an “in-depth” study of a subject by studying it “in depth,” but never “indepth.” Like “” this expression consists of two words often mistaken for one. The first, adjectival, use of the...

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indian vs native american

Although academics have long promoted “Native American” as a moreaccurate label than “Indian,” most of the people so labeled continue torefer to themselves as “Indians” and prefer that term. In Can...

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indite vs indict

“Indite” is a rare word meaning “to write down.”Authorities indict a person charged with a crime. This act is called an “indictment.” The C is not pronounced in these words, so that “indict” sounds...

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individual vs person

Law-enforcement officers often use “individual” as a simple synonym for"person” when they don’t particularly mean to stress individuality: “Ipursued the individual who had fired the weapon at me fo...

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infact vs in fact

We use “In fact” to add more information to what has been said earlier. It is a two letter word. "Infact" is incorrect. "In fact" is correct.

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infamous vs notorious

“Infamous” means famous in a bad way. It is related to the word “infamy.” Humorists have for a couple of centuries jokingly used the word in a positive sense, but the effectiveness of the joke depe...

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infinite

When Shakespeare’s Enobarbus said of Cleopatra that “age cannot witherher, nor custom stale her infinite variety,” he was obviouslyexaggerating. So few are the literal uses of “infinite” that almos...

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inflammable

“Inflammable” means the same thing as “flammable”: burnable, capable of being ignited or inflamed. So many people mistake the “in-” prefix as a negative, however, that it has been largely abandoned...

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influencial vs influential

<p>Influential means the ability to exert influence. It is the power to affect, control and manipulate someone or something. The ability to change the development of fluctuating things such as cond...

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ink pen vs pen

If there were any danger of confusing pens for writing with other kinds of pens (light-, sea-, pig-) the phrase “ink pen” might be useful, but it seems to be mainly a way of saying “not a pencil.” ...

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input

Some people object to “input” as computer jargon that’s proliferatedunjustifiably in the business world. Be aware that it’s not welcome inall settings; but whatever you do, don’t misspell it “imput.”

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in route vs en route

<p>En route is a popular expression that means someone or something is in transit or on the way. Its imported from a French phrase that literally translates to "on the way".</p> <pre>"There are en...

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insight vs incite

An insight is something you have: an understanding of something, a bright idea about something. To incite is to do something: to stimulate some action or other to be taken. You can never have an in...

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in spite of vs despite

Although “in spite of” is perfectly standard English, some people prefer “despite” because it is shorter. Be careful not to mix the two together by saying “despite of” except as part of the phrase ...

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install vs instill

<p>Install could mean to set up or prepare something for use or &nbsp;admitting formally into any office, rank or positioned.</p><pre>"The CEO installed a new manager for the firm."</pre><p>Instill...

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in store

Some people say things like “he is in store for a surprise on his birthday” when they mean he is in line for a surprise. The metaphor is not based on the image of going shopping in a store but of e...

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insundry vs and sundry

“Sundry” means “various” in modern English, so strictly speaking expressions like “various and sundry” and “all and sundry” are redundant; but many redundant expressions are standard in English, as...

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in tact vs intact

<p">Intact means a state of complete wholesomeness. An item or object can be regarded as intact if its unbroken or untouched.<p></p><pre>"Despite the fatality of the accident, Joe's body parts rema...

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intend on vs intend to

You can plan on doing something, but you intend to do it. Many people confuse these two expressions with each other and mistakenly say “intend on.” Of course if you are really determined, you can b...

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intense vs intensive

If you are putting forth an intense effort, your work is “intense”: “Myintense study of Plato convinced me that I would make a good leader.”But when the intensity stems not so much from your effort...

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intensifiers

People are always looking for ways to emphasize how really, reallyspecial the subject under discussion is. (The use of “really” is one ofthe weakest and least effective of these.) A host of words h...

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intercession vs intersession

<p>Intercession is a prayer to a supreme being on behalf of someone else. It could also describe the act of intervening or mediating between two parties.</p><pre>"The pastor set up an intercession ...

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interface vs interact

<p>Interface is the point of connection between two entities. It facilitates healthy relation between two or more people.</p><pre>"I could use you as an interface to get to your friends."</pre><p>I...

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intergrate vs integrate

<p>You are integrating, if you collecting small parts to make a whole or part of a whole. On the other hand, if you intergrate ....well... you can never intergrate because "intergrate" is NOT a wor...

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in terms of

Originally this expression was used to explain precise quantifiable relationships: “We prefer to measure our football team’s success in terms of the number of fans attending rather than the number ...

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intermural vs intramural vs extramural

“Intramural” means literally “within the walls” and refers to activities that take place entirely within an institution. When at Macbeth State University the Glamis Hall soccer team plays against t...

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internet vs intranet

“Internet” is the proper name of the network most people connect to, andthe word needs to be capitalized. However “intranet,” a network confinedto a smaller group, is a generic term which does not ...

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into vs in to

“Into” is a preposition which often answers the question, “where?” For example, “Tom and Becky had gone far into the cave before they realized they were lost.” Sometimes the “where” is metaphorical...

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intricate vs integral

<p>Integral refers to an important part of something, a business, idea, machine, etc.</p><pre>"That young man is an integral part of this operation."</pre><p>Intricate on the other hand refers to s...

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intrigue

Something fascinating or alluring can be called “intriguing,” but “intrigue” as a noun means something rather different: scheming and plotting. Don’t say people or situations are full of intrigue w...

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invested interest vs vested interest

If you have a personal stake in something which causes you to be biased toward it, you have a vested interest in it. People discussing financial investment sometimes pun on this phrase by writing “...

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invite vs invitation

“Invite” (accent on the second syllable) is perfectly standard as a verb: “Invite me to the birthday party and I’ll jump out of the cake.” But “invite” (accent on the first syllable) as a noun mean...

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iraq

Want to sound like a good old boy who doesn’t give a hoot what foreigners think? Say “EYE-rack.” But if you want to sound knowledgeable, say “ear-ROCK.” Politicians who know better sometimes adopt ...

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ironically vs coincidentally

<p>Ironically relates to irony, the act of conveying covert sarcasm under a serious or friendly pretense like an ironical compliment or disguised sarcasm.</p><pre>"Ironically, the story ended with ...

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irregardless vs regardless

<p>Regardless is an adverb that means without paying attention to the situation of circumstances. </p><pre>“Susan and Matt kept driving regardless of the pounding rain.” </pre><p>Nowadays, you will...

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is, is

In speech, people often lose track in the middle of a sentence and repeat “is” instead of saying “that”: “The problem with the conflict in the Balkans is, is the ethnic tensions seem exacerbated by...

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islams vs muslims

Followers of Islam are called “Muslims,” not “Islams.” Muslim is now widely preferred over the older and less phonetically accurate Moslem.The S in “Islam” and “Muslim” is unvoiced like the S in “s...

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isn't it vs innit

In South Asia you often hear people end sentences with “isn’t it?” in contexts where traditional English would require “doesn’t it,” “won’t it,” “aren’t you,” and related expressions. In Britain an...

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issues vs problems

An “issue” used to be a matter for consideration or discussion. For instance, a group might discuss the issue of how best to raise funds for its scholarship program. But people could also disagree ...

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itch vs scratch

Strictly speaking, you scratch an itch. If you’re trying to get rid of atingly feeling on your back scratch it, don’t itch it.

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its vs it’s

The exception to the general rule that one should use an apostrophe to indicate possession is in possessive pronouns. Some of them are not a problem. “Mine” has no misleading “s” at the end to invi...

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i vs me vs myself

In the old days when people studied traditional grammar, we could simply say, “The first person singular pronoun is ‘I’ when it’s a subject and ‘me’ when it’s an object,” but now few people know wh...

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in regards to vs with regard to

Business English is deadly enough without scrambling it. “As regards your downsizing plan . . .” is acceptable, if stiff. “In regard to” “and “with regard to” are also correct. But “in regards to” ...

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in shambles vs a shambles

Your clothes are in tatters, your plans are in ruins, but you can console yourself that your room cannot be “in shambles.” The expression meaning “like a wreck” is “a shambles”: “Your room is a sha...

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if i was vs if i were

The subjunctive mood, always weak in English, has been dwindling awayfor centuries until it has almost vanished. According to traditionalthought, statements about the conditional future such as “If...

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