A for An. "A hotel." "A heroic man." Before an unaccented aspirate use an. The contrary usage in this country comes of too strongly stressing our aspirates.
Action for Act. "In wrestling, a blow is a reprehensible action." A blow is not an action but an act. An action may consist of many acts.
Admission for Admittance. "The price of admission is one dollar."
Admit for Confess. To admit is to concede something affirmed. An unaccused offender cannot admit his guilt.
Adopt. "He adopted a disguise." One may adopt a child, or an opinion, but a disguise is assumed.
Advisedly for Advertently, Intentionally. "It was done advisedly" should mean that it was done after advice.
Afford. It is not well to say "the fact affords a reasonable presumption"; "the house afforded ample accommodation." The fact supplies a reasonable presumption. The house offered, or gave, ample accommodation.
Afraid. Do not say, "I am afraid it will rain." Say, I fear that it will rain.
Afterwards for Afterward.
Aggravate for Irritate. "He aggravated me by his insolence." To aggravate is to augment the disagreeableness of something already disagreeable, or the badness of something bad. But a person cannot be aggravated, even if disagreeable or bad. Women are singularly prone to misuse of this word.
All of. "He gave all of his property." The words are contradictory: an entire thing cannot be of itself. Omit the preposition.
Alleged. "The alleged murderer." One can allege a murder, but not a murderer; a crime, but not a criminal. A man that is merely suspected of crime would not, in any case, be an alleged criminal, for an allegation is a definite and positive statement. In their tiresome addiction to this use of alleged, the newspapers, though having mainly in mind the danger of libel suits, can urge in further justification the lack of any other single word that exactly expresses their meaning; but the fact that a mud-puddle supplies the shortest route is not a compelling reason for walking through it. One can go around.
Allow for Permit. "I allow you to go." Precision is better attained by saying permit, for allow has other meanings.
Allude to for Mention. What is alluded to is not mentioned, but referred to indirectly. Originally, the word implied a playful, or sportive, reference. That meaning is gone out of it.
And so. And yet. "And so they were married." "And yet a woman." Omit the conjunction.
And which. And who. These forms are incorrect unless the relative pronoun has been used previously in the sentence. "The colt, spirited and strong, and which was unbroken, escaped from the pasture." "John Smith, one of our leading merchants, and who fell from a window yesterday, died this morning." Omit the conjunction.
Antecedents for Personal History. Antecedents are predecessors.
Anticipate for Expect. "I anticipate trouble." To anticipate is to act on an expectation in a way to promote or forestall the event expected.
Anxious for Eager. "I was anxious to go." Anxious should not be followed by an infinitive. Anxiety is contemplative; eagerness, alert for action.
Appreciate for Highly Value. In the sense of value, it means value justly, not highly. In another and preferable sense it means to increase in value.
Approach. "The juror was approached"; that is, overtures were made to him with a view to bribing him. As there is no other single word for it, approach is made to serve, figuratively; and being graphic, it is not altogether objectionable.
Appropriated for Took. "He appropriated his neighbor's horse to his own use." To appropriate is to set apart, as a sum of money, for a special purpose.
Approve of for Approve. There is no sense in making approve an intransitive verb.
Apt for Likely. "One is apt to be mistaken." Apt means facile, felicitous, ready, and the like; but even the dictionary-makers cannot persuade a person of discriminating taste to accept it as synonymous with likely.
Around for About. "The débris of battle lay around them." "The huckster went around, crying his wares." Around carries the concept of circularity.
Article. A good and useful word, but used without meaning by shopkeepers; as, "A good article of vinegar," for a good vinegar.
As for That, or If. "I do not know as he is living." This error is not very common among those who can write at all, but one sometimes sees it in high place.
As--as for So--as. "He is not as good as she." Say, not so good. In affirmative sentences the rule is different: He is as good as she.
As for for As to. "As for me, I am well." Say, as to me.
At Auction for by Auction. "The goods were sold at auction."
At for By. "She was shocked at his conduct." This very common solecism is without excuse.
Attain for Accomplish. "By diligence we attain our purpose." A purpose is accomplished; success is attained.
Authoress. A needless word--as needless as "poetess."
Avocation for Vocation. A vocation is, literally, a calling; that is, a trade or profession. An avocation is something that calls one away from it. If I say that farming is some one's avocation I mean that he practises it, not regularly, but at odd times.
Avoid for Avert. "By displaying a light the skipper avoided a collision." To avoid is to shun; the skipper could have avoided a collision only by getting out of the way.
Avoirdupois for Weight. Mere slang.