Common Mistakes

You may want to use your word processor’s find function to check for each of the following:

1. Capitalization errors

In the Spring Semester

2. Not introducing quotes correctly

I attempted to create rapport, “My name is George and I’m here on behalf of the Public Defender’s Office.”

3. Putting commas and periods outside of closing quotation marks

“I am highly displeased with you”.

4. Comma splices

When the day came for our final exam, it was all on the line, just one three-course meal stood between me and graduation, but failure meant going home.

5. Apostrophe errors

Mom and Dad watched me drive off; it was my parent’s dream.

6. Confusing “i.e.” and “e.g.”

It was interesting as one could point out the differences in how we dealt with conflict in the group (i.e. indirect vs. direct disagreements).

7. Double words

He was going going to stay longer

8. Missing articles (“a,” “an,” or “the”)

I want to be lawyer because

9. Semicolons where commas should go
(Tip: if you don’t know how to use a semicolon, don’t use one.)

Then it came true; my biggest nightmare.

10. Mixing up “who” and “whom,” or “whoever” and “whomever”

Whomever answered the telephone

11. Extra spaces between words or after periods

	That was the moment,  the turning point.

Common Word Mix-Ups That Spell-Check Won’t Catch

1. Lose vs. loose
“Lose” is the opposite of “win” or “find.” “Loose” is the opposite of “tight.”

You lose; loose change.

2. Affect vs. effect
In their most common usage, “affect” is a verb meaning “influence” or “make a difference to,” and “effect” is a noun meaning “consequence.” Affecting something causes an effect.

The drought continues, affecting thousands of farmers in California.
It’s hard to gauge the economic effect of the drought.

Your attitude will affect your LSAT score.
Meditating before the test can have a positive effect.

“Effect” can also mean “bring about.”

I want to affect the policy in a positive way.
I want to effect a change in policy.

Finally, “affect” can mean “pretend to feel or have.”

I affected unconcern at my horrible LSAT score.

3. Ensure vs. insure
Although there is some overlap in the definitions of these words, you should use “insure” when you’re talking about a financial product and “ensure” when you mean “make sure.”

I’d like to insure my billions of dollars of LSAT prep material.
The material doesn’t even ensure a high score.

4. Disinterested vs. uninterested
Once upon a time, “disinterested” only meant “impartial.”

The lawyer gave me disinterested advice.

Now “disinterested” can also mean “not interested.” That is, “disinterested” and “uninterested” can be used synonymously.

Father was disinterested in my studies, and never asked about them.

But some people still believe that “disinterested” should only be used in the first sense—as a synonym of “impartial.” To be safe, you should not use “disinterested” when you mean “uninterested.”

5. It’s vs. its
“It’s” means “it is.” “Its” is the possessive form of “it.”

It’s my turn.
To fight the basilisk, you must attack its eye.

6. Your vs. you’re
“Your” means something that belongs to you. “You’re” means you are.

Your turn; you’re nice-looking.

7. To vs. too vs. two
“Too” means “also” or “to a higher degree than is desirable or expected.” “Two” is a number. Everything else is “to,” a preposition.

Let’s go to the LSAC’s headquarters.
You only brought two eggs?
Oh, good, she brought one, too. This is going to be too funny.

8. Than vs. then
“Than” is for comparison. “Then” indicates time.

She’s a better a candidate than he is.
Apply first, then pray.

9. “Flesh out” vs. “flush out”
To “flesh out” something means to develop it. To “flush out” something means to make it come out of hiding.

I realized I needed to flesh out my ideas.
I’m going to flush out their editors by dropping mustard gas and mistake-ridden essays on their bunkers.

10. Though vs. through
Enough said.

Words You Probably Shouldn’t Use

  • “Alright” is still considered non-standard, and it’s safer to stick to “all right.”
  • “Endeavor” is a word that often makes you sound like you are a) stumping for political office or b) trying too hard.

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