What’s the Difference?
By Cait Collins
Have you ever started writing a business letter or a short story and then come across one of those pesky words that makes you stop and think. Is it affect or effect? Or maybe it’s two or to. Every student, every writer, every speaker wrestles with these annoying word choices. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it includes some of the most common issues.
Accept – Except: Accept meant to receive or take. Except means to leave out or exclude.
Joe accepted the job offer.
Invite everyone except Mark and Amy.
Affect-Effect: Affect is a verb meaning to influence. Effect as a verb means to bring about. As a noun it means result.
The stock market affects my IRA.
The commissioners’ ruling had an adverse effect on jobs.
He effected a riot on the campus.
Compliment-Complement: Compliment expresses praise. Complement completes something.
The quiet compliment was not heard.
The silver sugar bowl complemented the other serving pieces.
Lay-Lie: Lie means to recline. Lay means to place or put. Lie means to tell a falsehood.
John had a headache so he decided to lie down.
Mary laid the placemats on the table.
Tom lied about having car trouble.
There-They’re-Their: There is a place. I will wait over there.
Their is a pronoun. The clerk took their picture.
There is a contraction for they are. Do you know if they’re going?