Usage

This section gives you lots of advice, helping you to avoid making some of the most common mistakes of usage. Do you worry about the correct use of hopefully, for example, or wonder what the difference is between affect and effect or flaunt and flout? Are you uncertain about whether to say different from or different than or if you should say ‘a historic event’ or ‘an historic event’? And if you’ve ever been puzzled about cactuses versus cacti, go to Plurals of foreign words.

Explore the links below to find clear and straightforward guidance on these topics and many more. You can find more help with the correct use of English in Grammar tips.

How To Use The Word "Hopefully"

Some people take issue with ‘hopefully’ being used as a sentence adverb. What does that mean, do you use it that way, and is it OK to do so?

How to use the word "like"

Many people object to the use of like as a conjunction, but is it really incorrect?

How to use the word "literally"

Can 'literally' be used to mean 'figuratively'? Get a grip on this controversial issue.

"I.e." Or "E.g."?

i.e. or e.g.? When referring to an example, it’s sometimes difficult to know which of these to use. Our guide shows the best way to figure it out.

"Imply" Or "Infer"?

Imply or Infer? These two words are often confused because of their very similar meanings. This article explains how to use them both.

"I" Or "Me"?

‘I’ or ‘Me’? Do you sometimes struggle to know which of these pronouns to use? This article shows the current proper usage for each of them.

Is "Irregardless" A Real Word?

Is 'irregardless' a real word? It increasing riles some language purists, but whether or not it's a word depends on what you mean by 'word'...

Is it "a historic event" or "an historic event"?

‘A historic event’ or ‘an historic event’? Find out if you are using ‘a’ or ‘an’ correctly.

Is It "Between You And Me'" Or "Between You And I"

Is it 'between you and me' or 'between you and I'? Find out which one is grammatically correct.

Is it "bored by," "bored of," or "bored with"?

The adjective 'bored' is commonly used in combination with a number of prepositions. Are some of them more correct than others?

Is It "Different From," "Different Than," Or "Different To"?

Should you write different from, different than, or different to? Find out…

"Its" Or "It’s"?

Confusing 'its' and 'it's' is a very common mistake. We explain how to get it right.

"Laid" Or "Lain"?

People are often perplexed about this group of words. Here's a short guide that helps you avoid confusing the two.

"Learnt" Or "Learned"?

Although both 'learnt' and 'learned' are acceptable forms of the past tense and past participle of the verb 'learn', there's one crucial difference you should know.

"Less" Or "Fewer"?

Less is more – or should that be fewer? This quick guide will help you avoid getting those two mixed up.

"Loose" Or "Lose"?

If you've got problems with using 'lose' and 'loose' correctly, this reference table outlining the differences between the two might help.

"May" or "might"?

'May' and 'might' are both ways of expressing possibility. Is there a difference between the way in which they should be used?

"Neither" Or "Nor"

How do you use 'neither' and 'nor' in a sentence? And is it acceptable to combine 'neither' with another negative?

"Onto" Or "On To"?

Onto or on to? Are these interchangeable, or is one of them frowned upon? The answer is slightly different in British and American English.

"Phenomenon" or "phenomena"?

Phenomenon or phenomena? The word means ‘a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen’, but which is singular and which is plural?