Common Mistakes

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Loath/Loathe

Loath is an adjective meaning “unwilling.” It ends with a hard th and rhymes with growth or both. Loathe is a verb meaning “to hate intensely.” It ends with a soft th like the sound in smooth or breathe. Examples: He was loath to admit that he was included in the deal. (He was unwilling)

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Ought with Have or Had

The expressions have ought, has ought, and had ought are nonstandard. To correct it, simply remove the have, has, or had. Incorrect: You had ought to have been there. Correct: You ought to have been there.

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Seen/Saw

Seen is a past participle. It must be used with an auxiliary verb such as has, have, had, am, is, are, was, were, be or their contractions. Often saw works better. No auxiliary verb is used with saw. Incorrect: We seen all three of them. Correct: We saw all three of them. Correct: We have

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Luxuriant/Luxurious

Luxuriant means “characterized by thick or abundant growth.” It is usually applies to the growth of plants, fur, or hair. The noun form is luxuriance. Luxurious means “characterized by wealth and comfort,” more directly from our modern word luxury. The noun form is luxury or luxuriousness. Examples: Captain Cook named the place Botany Bay because

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Parameter/Perimeter

These two words are often confused, especially parameter for perimeter. Perimeter, pronounced with a short i in the second syllable, means “the border or line around an object, especially a two-dimensional geometric figure.” By extension, it can refer to the border of any area or any kind of limit. Parameter, pronounced with a short a

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