Is it Towards or Toward?

A couple times I’ve stumbled on this word while reading, thinking it was a mistake. Turns out it’s not. Toward and towards mean the same thing, but one is British English while the other is American.

The British spelling, towards, always seemed correct to me. You can say

She headed towards the woods.

but it means the same thing as

He ran toward the car.

though, I think the latter version is clunkier.


This is the same with check and cheque. In American English, the word check has several meanings; the main two being to verify, but it also refers to a bank money order. British English reserves only one word to mean a bank order, cheque. Even as I type this, spellcheck is informing me that “cheque” is not a word. Either are correct, but I suggest you be consistent or else you’ll confuse people.


Quick Notes: “A lot”

“There are a lot of elephants in this zoo.”

Hear that? Pronounced “ey lot” not “alot”. This is technically a phrase because it’s two words, not one. There is a great amount, a great number of something. There is a whole lot.

I mean, I guess it would be excusable to use alot if you wanted to be indecipherable. For example,


Hard and fast rules don’t require much explanation. Alot is wrong. A lot is right.

Compliment vs Complement

These are confusing, but one word is usually more common than the other in everyday use.

A compliment is a noun, a man will give a compliment to woman. A compliment is an expression of praise or admiration; it can also be a sign of respect or regard by giving a gift or favor. “He paid us the compliment of a personal tour.” It can also mean “thanks to”; “this wine is complimentary” or “on the house”.

A complement is a noun for something that adds to and completes another thing. “Those shoes complement your dress.” Something that completes another thing is said to complement it.

Quick Notes: “intensive purposes”

“For all intensive purposes…”

What? Do you even know what you’re saying?

For those of you who are often mistaken, the real phrase is “for all intents and purposes”. This is another one of those misheard/mistyped phrases that are so common but often twisted around. The actual phrase means essentially, or ‘under normal circumstances’.

To save myself the time, you can find a definition of “for all intents and purposes” here.

Affect vs Effect

Affect– verb, meaning to influence something; to act on.

Effect– noun, pertaining to the influence of one thing on another; the end result or consequence.


Side Effects– are things that happen as a result of medication, not intended to occur or not in correlation with the purpose of the medication.

to affect an accent- to assume or take on an accent

For Example:

To elaborate, pretend that this is a conversation between a psychiatrist and his patient.

Dr. Joe: So tell me, Mr. Bob, have there been any side effects with your medication?

Mr. Bob: Yes, actually. I think it’s affected my mood and I seem to be eating more.

Dr. Joe: That’s the actual medication working, then. That’s the intended effect. Does this affect your energy levels?

Mr. Bob: No. I don’t know what the effects of the side effects are, but it hasn’t really affected my everyday life at all.

Dr. Joe: Well, let me know if you experience any changes in your mood again, it not only affects you, but it will affect your family, too.

No need to applaud me for my literary creativity. It’s a natural talent.

Loose vs. Lose

Do you remember those phonetics CD’s and TV shows and toys you used to play with when you were a kid?

You probably don’t if you’re still confusing loose for lose. The difference between how you pronounce lose or loose might account for the mix up, but regardless, these two words are not the same.


  • means to be without something, to have something taken away or to misplace.
  •  pronounced “looz”; the presence of only one ‘o’ means the word has a shorter sound, therefore ending on a ‘zuh’.
  • Examples include: “You’ll lose your job.”, “How do you lose a baby elephant?”, “The game. You lose.”


  • means slack, free from restraints, set free (“let loose”), or to unfasten or undo.
  • pronounced “loos”; the presence of two o’s makes a longer sound, stretching the word out with an ‘s’ at the end.
  • Examples include: “My belt is too loose.”, “I’ll take care of any loose ends.”, “Her hair was up in a loose bun.”

I once saw a sign for a weight loss program that asked if I needed to “loose” some pounds. If they claim to be able to loosen your excess weight, you might want to consider getting rid of it altogether. If in doubt, don’t use loose- unless you know what you’re talking about..

Then vs Than

I’m going to make this quick, because really, this shouldn’t be as frequent a problem as it really is.

Then- means later in time. For example, I’m going to the store, and then I’ll mail your postcard.

Than– means in comparison. For example, I have way more cats than Joe. Or: She’s crazier than I am.

The following sentences are wrong:

  • First I’ll punch his face in and than I’ll punch his face in.
  • I have way more monies then him.

Just a quick lesson, but please know what the word means before using it.

I Would Of

It gives me the heebie jeebies to even see “I would of”. In everyday conversation, words can easily be misspelled because of the confusion between how they’re pronounced and how they’re written. When someone says they would’ve preferred an apple over a pear, they mean would have. Not would of. Not would ov. Not wood of.

Would’ve is the contraction to would have. This also applies to should’ve and could’ve.

The only time “would of” works beside each other like that is never. Actually, I lied. It works in this case.

“I would, of course, send you that pineapple, but I’ve eaten it.”

But seriously, of means pertaining to.

“I made a house out of duct tape.”

“I live south of Narnia.”

“Which part of the cake is a lie?”

“I’m going to die of boredom.”

These are the instances in which you can use of, just keep it away from would, should or could. Please.