There is a another great blog about copywriting that I highly recommend. It is called Get it in Writing and is an exceptional resource.
They compiled a list of what they called the Top 20 Words You Use in Speech or Copywriting That Make You Look Stupid When You Misuse Them, but as I misuse these words often I prefer to call it making you look “enyclopediacally challenged”. Here are some of my nemeses. (probably shouldn’t use that word either)
adverse/averse – “Adverse” means unfavorable. “Averse” means reluctant.
accept/except – “Accept” means to to receive with consent.”Except” means With the exclusion of.
affect/effect -“To affect” means to influence, change or produce an effect “To effect” means to accomplish, complete, cause, make possible or carry out. If you’re looking for a noun, you’re probably looking for “effect.” If you’re using a verb, you’re safest with “affect.”
allude/refer -“To allude” means to speak of without mentioning. “To refer” means to speak of directly.
all right – not alright
allusion/illusion – An “allusion” is an indirect reference. An “illusion” is a false impression or image.
around/about -“Around” should refer to a physical proximity or surrounding (I’ll look for you around the front of Baker Hall). “About” indicates an approximation (Let’s have lunch about 11:30 a.m.).
between/among -Use “between” to show a relationship between two objects only.Use “among” when it’s more than two.
complement/compliment -“Complement” is something that supplements. “Compliment” is praise or the expression of courtesy.
farther/further -“Farther” refers to physical distance. “Further” refers to an extension of time or degree.
imply/infer -“Imply” means to suggest or indicate indirectly. To “infer” is to conclude or decide from something known or assumed.
insure/ensure -“Insure” means to establish a contract for insurance of some type. “Ensure” means to guarantee. General rule? Use “ensure.”
irregardless/regardless -The word is “regardless.” “Irregardless”? No such word.
literally/figuratively -“Literally” means in an exact sense. (must be said in a British accent) “Figuratively” means in a comparative sense. (my sister-in-law Jacquie loves this one)
lose/loose -“lose” means to To fail to win, or misplace. “loose” means Not fastened, restrained, or contained.
principal/principle – “Principal” as a noun is a chief person or thing; as an adjective, it means first in importance. “Principle” is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, doctrine or law; a guiding rule or code of conduct; a method of operation.
toward/towards -“Toward” is correct. “Towards” is not.
Now I can insure you that irregardless I can write an alright marketing piece eluding to the affect of adversely effecting literally thousands of persons.