Common Errors Starting with U

ufo

“UFO” stands for “Unidentified Flying Object,”so if you’re sure thatsilvery disk is an alien spacecraft, there’s no point in calling it a"UFO.” I love the sign I once saw in a Seattle bookstore lab...

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ugly american

The term “ugly American”—used to describe boorish people from the US insensitive to those in other countries—bothers fans of the 1958 novel The Ugly American, whose title character was actually sen...

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unchartered vs uncharted

“Unchartered” means “lacking a charter,” and is a word most people have little use for. “Uncharted” means “unmapped” or “unexplored,” so the expression meaning “to explore a new subject or area” is...

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unconscience vs unconscious

<p>Unconscious refers to a part of the mind which we are not aware of and is more loosely used to describe a state of unawareness.</p><pre>"The homeless man laid down unconscious."</pre><p>Unconsci...

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under the guise that vs under the guise of

Phishing e-mails try to extract valuable information from you so they can rob you under the guise of protecting your online security. They are disguising their theft as protection. There are other ...

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underestimated

Enthusiastic sportscasters often say of a surprisingly talented team that “they cannot be underestimated” when what they mean is “they should not be underestimated.”

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underlining vs underlying

<p>Underlining is the inflected form of underline which means to draw a line underneath something especially to add emphasis or to underscore.</p><p>Underlying means when something or someone is ly...

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undermind vs undermined

Some people believe in a mystical overmind, but not even they believe in an “undermind.” The word is “undermined.” If you dig under a castle wall to prepare to breach its defenses, you are undermin...

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under weigh vs under way

The original expression for getting a boat moving has nothing to do with weighing anchor and is “getting under way,” but so many sophisticated writers get this wrong that you’re not likely to get i...

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undo vs undue

The verb “undo” is the opposite of “do.” You undo your typing errors on a computer or undo your shoelaces to go wading.The adjective “undue” is the opposite of “due” and means “unwarranted” or “imp...

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undoubtably vs undoubtedly

<p>The difference between these two words is slight and tricky to understand. They are both adverbs, and have the root of ‘doubt’. </p><p>‘Undoubtably’ means ‘in a way that can’t be doubted’.</p><p...

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unkept vs unkempt

<p>‘Unkempt’ means ‘neglected’, and it’s usually used to describe people or property (buildings and yards or gardens). </p><pre>“John always comes to his 8:00 AM class with messy hair and wrinkled ...

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unlike

When you’re linking two phrases with “unlike” you need to keep them in grammatically parallel forms: “Unlike Cecile, Gareth likes persimmons.” This sentence parallels two people: Cecile and Gareth....

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unpleased vs displeased

If someone is unpleased, he is showing displeasure. If someone is displeased, he is also showing displeasure. Both are synonymous but "displeased" is more commonly used. Please note that "unpleasin...

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unrest

Journalists often use this mild term to describe all manner of civildisorders, but it’s silly to call mayhem or chaos merely “unrest” whenthere are bullets flying about and bodies lying in the stre...

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unthaw vs thaw

<p>To thaw means to warm up something that has been frozen. When ice thaws it becomes water. </p><pre>“I forgot to thaw the chicken, so we’ll have to order pizza for dinner.” </pre><p>Although it d...

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untracked vs on track

When things begin running smoothly and successfully, they get “on track.” some people oddly substitute “untracked” for this expression, perhaps thinking that to be “tracked” is to be stuck in a rut.

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upmost vs utmost

“Upmost” can mean “uppermost,” referring to something on top. But usually this word is a mistake for “utmost,” meaning “most extreme.” “Utmost” is related to words like “utter,” as in “The birthday...

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upto vs up to

Not upto alot lately? You might use some of your spare time memorizing the fact that “up to” is a two-word phrase, as is “a lot.”

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use vs usage

<p>Use primarily means to utilize or employ something for unique purpose and function. </p><pre>"I plan to use the restroom in a few minutes."</pre><p>Usage also has an extremely close meaning to i...

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use to vs used to

Because the D and the T are blended into a single consonant when this phrase is pronounced, many writers are unaware that the D is even present and omit it in writing. See also “.”

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utilize vs use

The best use for “utilize” is to mean “make use of”: “Ryan utilized his laptop in the library mainly as a pillow to rest his head on.” In most contexts, “use” is simpler and clearer. Many readers c...

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