Common Mistakes

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Irritate/Aggravate

Aggravate mean “to make worse.” The root is grave, in the sense of “serious.” Remember this root when spelling the word. Irritate means “to exasperate” or “to inflame.” Incorrect: His teasing aggravated me. Correct: His teasing irritated me. Incorrect: That meal irritated my condition. Correct: That meal aggravated my condition.

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Healthful/Healthy

In formal English, things are healthful (i.e., good for one’s health). People or other creatures are healthy (i.e., in a state of good health). Incorrect: Eat a healthy breakfast. Correct: Eat a healthful breakfast. Correct: You look healthy today.

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Its/It’s

Its is the possessive pronoun; it modifies a noun. It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Incorrect: The cat carried it’s kitten in it’s mouth. (Possessive pronoun, no apostrophe) Correct: The cat carried its kitten in its mouth. Correct: I think it’s going to rain today. (Contraction of it is) Correct: It’s

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Height or Heighth

The noun form of broad is breadth, the noun form of long is length, and the noun form of wide is width. Because of this, some people follow the pattern and say heighth, with a th at the end of the word high. That is not standard English. The correct form is height. Notice the

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Jealous/Envious/Suspicious

Jealous means “apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else.” It can also mean “watchful,” “anxiously suspicious,” “zealous,” or “expecting complete devotion.” The last is normally applied to God. The noun form is jealousy; the adverb form, jealously. Envy means “to bear a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that

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