Here are 6 commonly misused words and how to correctly use them

Using incorrect words can be embarrassing. You use one word, but what you were supposed to use was another word that sounds very similar to the one that you did use. Sometimes, the person you are talking to or writing to may not notice. Other times, they do notice. And when they do notice the incorrect use, they silently mock you. 

So, to prevent you from getting mocked by a snobby grammar jerk, here are six (or three pairs) of the most common problematic words and how to properly use them in their various verb tenses (if the words are verbs):

1) Who/Whom

These two words are pronouns, and like the majority of pronoun pairs, there is one that is a subject and one that is an object.

To refresh your memory, subjects are words that come before the very first verb in a sentence. Objects are words that come after the verb in a sentence. In the case of who and whom, “who” is the subject and “whom” is the object.

  • Who attended the fantasy league draft?
  • Wait! You drafted whom?
  • From whom did you get that player?
For the third example, the word "whom" is being used because it is an object of a preposition (the word from is a preposition). The other two are just examples of the words being used as a subject and an object.

2) Lay/Lie

These two words are verbs. “Lay” means to place something down or put something somewhere. It always has a direct object (the word that receives the action).

  • The basketball player lay his championship trophy on his shelf. (Side Example: In this sentence, the word trophy is the direct object because it is receiving the action, or is being “lay” down.)
  • He also laid down his championship ring.
  • Last season, he had laid down his MVP trophy on that very same shelf.
The word “lie” means to recline or rest. Unlike the word “lay,” it never takes an object.

  • The basketball player always lies down to ice her knees after practice.
  • She likes to lay down in rooms with a lot of sunlight.
  • She has lain outdoors before.

3) Rise/Raise

The words rise and raise are also verbs. “Raise” means to lift something up, increase the amount, or to grow something. The word “raise” always takes an object.

  • The young athlete wants to raise the amount of time she can run each week.
  • Last week, she raised her time to 90 minutes.
  • She has raised it to 2 hours before.
The word “rise” means to gain value or to ascend. It does not take an object.

  • The team rises in the rankings.
  • Over the last 15 games, the team rose into the top six.
  • The team had risen earlier in the season by a couple of spots.
Understand everything? Good. Now, if you want to practice your grammar, check out my grammar workbook series, Grammar Better. They're easy-to-understand workbooks that you can effortlessly do to improve your understanding of the parts-of-speech. Click here to learn more.

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