As indie authors, we all strive to make our writing appear and sound professional. In today’s world there are many words and phrases that have become accepted and may even have found their way into the dictionary; however, their use in print will scream amateur to an avid reader. Therefore, we want to avoid them and make sure we use the proper word(s) and phrase(s).
Here are a few examples:
1) “Irregardless” vs “regardless”
This is a case of a mispronounced form of a word being added to the dictionary and though
it may be generally accepted, a professional editor will call you out each time you use it.
Because the prefix “ir” means not. The word “regardless” means having or showing no regard
for someone or something. When you put the two together you form a double negative, and
as in arithmetic two negatives equal a positive. So, in essence when you say “irregardless”
you are saying you are “not showing no regard,” so you are showing regard.
Avoid this mistake and use the proper word “regardless,” regardless of what other people say.
2) “Anyways” vs “anyway”
Here is one that came up in my email today. The email was an ad trying to get me to use this
person's editing service. Half way through her spiel she typed, "Anyways, . . ." I stopped
reading and hit the delete button.
"Anyways" is another example of a misspoken word being added to the dictionary out of
popular use verses correctness.
“Anyway” is the proper word and has the meaning of be that as it may, nevertheless, and however.
There is no plural form for this word.
For your manuscript to come off as professional, drop the “s” and use “anyway.”
3) “Towards” vs “toward”
While still on the subject, I cannot let this one pass without mentioning it. I know, I have
been told to lighten up on this one but the little English teacher in my head won’t let me.
In the same vein as “anyways,” “towards” has found its way not only into conversations
but also onto the printed page. Does that mean it is proper?
My little English teacher is screaming emphatically, NO!
Toward means in the direction of. For example: you run toward something.
There is no plural form of the word
“toward” or its meaning.
A professional editor should call you out every time you pluralize the word toward.
4) “Should of” vs “should have”
Here’s one I’ve seen recently. This mistake is born from the contraction should’ve.
When spoken, “should’ve” sounds a lot like “should of.” Don’t let the wrong phrase
end up in your manuscript or it will scream amateur.
5) “I could care less” vs “I couldn’t care less”
Here’s an expression people stumble over every day.
The expression “I could care less” conveys the meaning that I actually care to some
“I couldn’t care less” means emphatically, I don’t care at all.
Be sure to use the proper phrase with the meaning you are trying to express. Otherwise,
you will be saying the opposite.
6) “Amused” vs “bemused”
This one may arise in fantasy writing because some may mistakenly think “bemused”
is just a medieval
form of “amused.” The truth is these two words have completely different meanings.
Amused means you are enjoying something.
Bemused means you are bewildered or confused.
So, don’t be bemused when it comes to using amused.
7) “Try and” vs “try to”
I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say “try and stop me...” or something similar.
What they are really wanting to say is “try to stop me”.
When you “try to” do something, it means you are actively working toward whatever
Whereas, if you “try and” do..., it means you are trying on top of doing something else.
To appear professional, “try to” use to the proper phrase.
I know there are many other words and phrases that will pop into your head. Please feel free to add yours in the comments.