To be proficient in a language, you must know its basic vocabulary, its common idioms and everyday expressions. To write well, your choice of words is important. There are many English words that are frequently confused and misused, especially by ESL learners:
FEWER / LESS
Fewer is used for items that can be counted; less is used for items that cannot be counted.
e.g. Fewer people came to the meeting today than yesterday.
e.g. We have less money to spend on this trip than we used to have.
REAL / REALLY
Real is an adjective; really is an adverb.
e.g. The firefighter was really brave when he saved the child.
e.g. What you saw was real, and not your imagination.
ANXIOUS / EAGER
Anxious means worried; eager means impatiently desirous.
e.g. He was anxious about his future.
e.g. The children are eager to open their Christmas presents.
IN REGARD TO / AS REGARDS
Both mean with reference to.
e.g. As regards your performance, I think you did a good job (no “to”).
ITS / IT’S
Its is the possessive of the pronoun “it”; It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”
e.g. It’s a fact that the earth is round.
e.g. The company has lost its control over the market in
MORAL / MORALE
Moral as a noun means a standard of behavior or teaching of a story; morale as a noun means a positive state of mind with reference to confidence.
e.g. Not to take advantage of the poor is a moral act (as an adjective).
e.g. The moral of the story is that dishonesty never pays off.
e.g. This victory has increased the morale of the soldiers.
FARTHER / FURTHER
Father refers to greater distance; further means more or greater intensity.
e.g. Our new house is farther from the lake than from the river.
e.g. The demonstration only led to further racial tension.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau