Common Errors Starting with T

to the manor born vs to the manner born

Hamlet complains of the drunken carousing at Elsinore to his friend Horatio, who asks “Is it a custom?” Hamlet replies that it is and adds, “but to my mind,—though I am native here and to the manne...

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the quick and the dead

The earliest meaning of the word “quick” in English is “alive.” When a baby was first felt to move in its mother’s womb it was considered to have come to life, and this moment was called “quickenin...

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table

In the UK if you table an issue you place it on the table for discussion; but in the US the phrase means the opposite: you indefinitely postpone discussing the issue.

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tad bit vs tad, bit

A “tad” was originally a small boy, but this word evolved into the expression “a tad” meaning “very small” or “very slightly”: “The movie was a tad long for my taste.” Some people combine this with...

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take and

In some dialects, it’s common to emphasize an action by preceding the verb with “take and” (past tense “took and”): “When he got mad he would take and pound his fist into the wall.” This expression...

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taken back vs taken aback

When you’re startled by something, you’re taken aback by it. When you’rereminded of something from your past, you’re taken back to that time.

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two to tangle vs two to tango

A 1952 song popularized the phrase “it takes two to tango”; and it was quickly applied to everything that required two parties, from romance to fighting. Later, people baffled by hearing the phrase...

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taught vs taut

<p>Taut means to stretch something very tight to its extreme.</p><pre>"The jump rope is taut hence useless for what you intend to use it for."</pre><p>Taught on the other hand is the past tense of ...

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taunt vs taut vs tout

<p>Taunt means to make fun someone or goad them to responding often in an aggressive manner.</p><pre>"We should taunt the dog, its being laying lazily around."</pre><p>Taut is when something is tig...

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tenant vs tenet

These two words come from the same Latin root, tenere, meaning “to hold” but they have very different meanings. “Tenet” is the rarer of the two, meaning a belief that a person holds: “Avoiding pork...

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tentative

Often all-too-tentatively pronounced “tennative.” Sound all three “T’s."

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than vs then

When comparing one thing with another you may find that one is more appealing “than” another. “Than” is the word you want when doing comparisons. But if you are talking about time, choose “then“: “...

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thanks god

I suppose if you wanted to express your gratitude directly to the deity you might appropriately say “Thanks, God, for helping our team win the big game.” More appropriate is something more formal, ...

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thankyou vs thank you, thank-you

When you are grateful to someone, tell them “thank you.” Thanks are often called “thank-yous,” and you can write “thank-you notes.” But the expression should never be written as a single unhyphenat...

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that vs than

People surprisingly often write “that” when they mean “than” in various standard phrases. Examples: “harder that I thought,” “better safe that sorry,” and “closer that they appear.” In all these ca...

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that kind vs that kind of

Although expressions like “that kind thing” are common in some dialects, standard English requires “of” in this kind of phrase.

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their’s vs theirs

Like the related possessive pronouns “ours,” “his” and “hers” “theirs” does not take an apostrophe.

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they’re vs their vs there

Many people are so spooked by apostrophes that a word like “they’re” seems to them as if it might mean almost anything. In fact, it’s always a contraction of “they are.” If you’ve written “they’re,...

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theirselves vs themselves

<p>Themselves is a reflexive pronoun and is used when the recipient of an action is the subject of the sentence.</p><pre>"They all peed on themselves out of fear when the robbers attacked."</pre><p...

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them vs those

One use of “them” for “those” has become a standard catch phrase: “howdo you like them apples?” This is deliberate dialectical humor. But “Ilike them little canapes with the shrimp on top” is gauch...

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theory

In ordinary speech, a theory is just a speculation. The police inspector in a Miss Marple mystery always has a theory about who committed the murder which turns out to be wrong.But in science the w...

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there’s

People often forget that “there’s” is a contraction of “there is” and mistakenly say “there’s three burrs caught in your hair” when they mean “there’re” (“there are”). Use “there’s” only when refer...

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therefor vs therefore

<p>Therefore is a conjunctive adverb that signifies something is 'for that or for this' previously stated purpose/cause.</p><pre>"I have so many things to thank him for, therefore, he deserves some...

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these kind vs this kind

In a sentence like “I love this kind of chocolates,” “this” modifies “kind” (singular) and not “chocolates” (plural), so it would be incorrect to change it to “I love these kind of chocolates.” Onl...

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these ones vs these

By itself, there’s nothing wrong with the word “ones” as a plural: “surrounded by her loved ones.” However, “this one” should not be pluralized to “these ones.” Just say “these.”

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these are them vs these are they

Although only the pickiest listeners will cringe when you say “these are them,” the traditionally correct phrase is “these are they,” because “they” is the predicate nominative of “these.” However,...

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they vs their (singular)

Using the plural pronoun to refer to a single person of unspecifiedgender is an old and honorable pattern in English, not a newfangled bitof degeneracy or a politically correct plot to avoid sexism...

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think on vs think about

An archaic form that persists in some dialects is seen in statementslike “I’ll think on it” when most people would say “I’ll think aboutit.”

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this here vs that there vs this, that

The expressions “this here” and “that there” immediately before a noun are nonstandard. In standard English it’s not “this here dog” or “that there cat,” but “this dog” and “that cat.” Less casual ...

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though vs thought vs through

Although most of us know the differences between these words peopleoften type one of them when they mean another. Spelling checkers won’tcatch this sort of slip, so look out for it.

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threw vs through

“Threw” is the past tense of the verb “throw”: “The pitcher threw a curve ball.” “Through” is never a verb: “The ball came through my living room window.” Unless your sentence involves someone thro...

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throws of passion vs throes of passion

<p>The idiomatic expression ‘in the throes of passion’ means that you are so overwhelmed by an intimate encounter with someone that you are not thinking clearly or making good decisions. </p><pre>“...

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thusfar vs thus far

Some common phrases get fused in people’s minds into single words. The phrase “thus far” is frequently misspelled “thusfar.” Hardly anybody writes “sofar” instead of “so far”—just treat “thus far” ...

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thusly vs thus

“Thusly” has been around for a long time, but it is widely viewed asnonstandard. It’s safer to go with plain old “thus.”

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tic vs tick

The word for a spasmodic twitch or habitual quirk of speech or behavior is spelled the French way: “tic.” You may have to worry about Lyme disease if you get a bite from a tick on your face, but th...

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timber vs timbre

You can build a house out of timber, but that quality which distinguishes the sound produced by one instrument or voice from others is timbre, usually pronounced “TAM-bruh,” so the common expressio...

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time period vs time, period

The only kinds of periods meant by people who use this phrase are periods of time, so it’s a redundancy. Simply say “time” or “period.”

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times smaller

Mathematically literate folks object to expressions like “my paycheck isthree times smaller than it used to be” because when used with whole numbers “times” indicatesmultiplication and should logic...

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times vs multiply

<p>Times is the product of the previous digit and the following number.</p><pre>"Eighty nine times four equals three hundred and fifty six."</pre><p>Multiply means to grow in number or to increase ...

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tirimisù vs tiramisù

Tiramisù is Italian for “pick me up,” and is the name of a popular modern Italian dessert, commonly misspelled as tirimisù, which gives it a slightly Japanese air. The Japanese love tiramisù; but a...

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to vs too vs two

People seldom mix “two” up with the other two; it obviously belongs with words that also begin with TW, like “twice” and “twenty” that involve the number 2. But the other two are confused all the t...

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today’s modern society vs today

People seeking to be up-to-the-minute often indulge in such redundancies as “in today’s modern society” or “in the modern society of today.” This is empty arm-waving which says nothing more than “n...

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today’s day and age vs this day and age

The traditional expression is “in this day and age,” meaning “right at this moment and during a considerable stretch of time around this moment.” “Today’s day” is redundant: “today” already has “da...

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toe-headed vs tow-headed

Light-colored rope is called “tow” and someone with very blond hair is called a “tow-head.” Tow-headed children are cute, but a toe-headed one would be seriously deformed.

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to home vs at home

In some dialects people say “I stayed to home to wait for the mail,” butin standard English the expression is “stayed at home."

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tolled vs told

<p>Told is the past tense of tell which means to divulge an information to someone else.</p><pre>"Kindly tell him what he’d love to hear please."</pre><p>Tolled on the other hand can be used either...

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tongue and cheek vs tongue in cheek

When people want to show they are kidding or have just knowingly uttered a falsehood, they stick their tongues in their cheeks, so it’s “tongue in cheek,” not “tongue and cheek.”

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tooken vs took vs taken

“Hey, Tricia! Ted couldn’t find his parrot so he’s tooken your toucan to show and tell!“ “Tooken” is a non-standard form of “taken.” In fact, there are two past-tense forms of “take” which shouldn’...

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torchiere vs torchère

Consumers and dealers who call tall floor lamps torchieres undoubtedly think they’re being sophisticated, but the French word is simple torchère (originally meaning “torch-holder”). Because of wide...

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tore vs torn

<p>Tore means to cause something to tear or rip into shreds like a whole becoming several parts.</p><pre>"The dog tore my school uniform!"</pre><p>Torn is the past participle of the word, tear whic...

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torturous vs tortuous

A path with a confusing proliferation of turns is tortuous (from a French root meaning “twisted”). But “torturous” (meaning painful or unpleasant, like torture) is very frequently confused with it....

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touch bases vs touch base

Although in baseball a home-run hitter has to touch all four bases while whizzing past, when you propose to linger with someone long enough to compare notes you do all your chatting at a single bas...

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touché

In formal fencing matches, when someone is hit by an opponent’s sword it is traditional for the person hit to cry out touché (French for “touched”) to acknowledge that fact. In other contexts, we m...

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tounge vs tongue

<p>Tongue is a flexible muscular organ in the mouth that is used to move food around, for tasting and that is moved to various positions to modify the flow of air from the lungs in order to produce...

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tow the line vs toe the line

“Toe the line” has to do with lining your toes up on a precise mark, not with pulling on a rope. However if you have to take your kids along when you visit friends, you have them not in toe, but in...

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toward vs towards

These two words are interchangeable, but “toward” is more common in theUS and “towards” in the UK. Some people, probably influenced by “forwards,” write “torwards” instead of the correct “towards.”

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to where vs so much that, to the point that

Complains Fred, “Mac kept borrowing my tools to where I couldn’t finishfixing the front porch.” This sort of use of “to where” to mean “so muchthat” or “to the point that” is not standard English. ...

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track home vs tract home

<p>Tract home is a system of home building used in USA and Canada, in which similar houses are built on a subdivided plot of land.</p><pre>"We live in a tract housing arrangement in my estate."</pr...

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tradegy vs tragedy

Not only do people often misspell “tragedy” as “tradegy,” they mispronounce it that way too. Just remember that the adjective is “tragic” to recall that it’s the G that comes after the A. Also comm...

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tragedy vs travesty

“Travesty” has farcical connotations; it’s actually related to “transvestite.” A disaster that could be described as a farce or a degraded imitation may be called a travesty: “The trial—since the d...

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transition

People in business, politics, and education love to turn nouns into verbs; but many of their transformations irritate a good number of listeners. High on the list of disliked terms is “transition” ...

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tremblor vs temblor

Earthquake experts call each vibration produced by an earthquake a “temblor,” derived from the Spanish word for “tremble.” It’s not surprising that many people turn this word into “tremblor,” but j...

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tripple vs triple

<p>You will be considered triple as smart if you do not write "tripple". "Tripple" is a misspelling. "Triple" is correct.</p><p>Triple means three times something.</p><pre>“The cost of housing is t...

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trite and true vs tried and true

<p>Tried and True refers to ideas that have been tried out and turn out to be valid.</p><pre>"The ford hypothesis has finally been tried and true."</pre><p>Trite and true on the other hand is an in...

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troop vs troupe

A group of performers is a troupe. Any other group of people, military or otherwise, is a troop. A police officer, member of a mounted military group or similar person is a trooper, but a gung-ho w...

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try and vs try to

Although “try and” is common in colloquial speech and will usually pass unremarked there, in writing try to remember to use “try to” instead of “try and.”

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turn into vs turn in to

Probably out of simple absentmindedness, an amazing number of Web pages of educational institutions call for people to fill out a form and “turn it into” some office or official. “Turn into” means ...

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the ukraine vs ukraine

Some country names are preceded by an article—like “The United States” and “La France”—but most are not. Sometimes it depends on what language you are speaking: in English we call the latter countr...

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that vs which

I must confess that I do not myself observe the distinction between “that” and “which.” Furthermore, there is little evidence that this distinction is or has ever been regularly made in past centur...

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