Common Mistakes

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Semicolons in a Series

When the items in a series themselves contain commas, separate the items with semicolons. Incorrect: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York, and Toronto, Ontario. (Confusing. Semicolons needed to make clear distinctions.) Correct: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Toronto, Ontario.

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Hyphens for Clarity

Hyphens within a word can make some words clearer. They are frequently used with prefixes ending with the same vowel as the root begins with to show pronunciation or emphasize meaning. They are also frequently used to distinguish between words. Examples: co-op (instead of coop, also prefix ending with same vowel as root beginning) re-elect

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Take/Bring

Bring means “to carry to a nearer place from a more distant one.” Take means the opposite: “To carry to a more distant place from a nearer one.” Examples: Bring that file over here. Take this package to the post office. The past and the past participle of bring is brought. Brang and brung are

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Used to/Use to

The common expressions supposed to meaning “meant to” or “intended to” and used to meaning “formerly” are frequently misspelled or misunderstood. Both expression are normally in the Passive Voice. This means that the verb is the past participle so it ends with an -ed. Writers sometimes drop the final d because of the t sound

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Commas in a Series

Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses in a series. A conjunction goes between the last two items of the series. While some authorities say that the comma before the conjunction is optional, leaving it out may cause confusion, so it is better to include it. Words: Use commas to separate

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