Editing is one of the least favorite activities for writers, but it is a necessary evil. We all miss items in our writing – no matter how often one revisits the piece. The mind reads what SHOULD be on the page, not necessarily what IS on the page. These are some my favorites…ones I tend to seek out when I am writing/editing.
LAST should not be used before a period of time (week, month, year). Last refers to the final week, month, or year. One should use PAST to refer to the previous week, month, or year.
This one is usually a spelling, rather than a meaning mistake. PASSIBLE refers to being sensitive or capable of feeling (Although I disagree with his politics, I find the candidate is passible.) On the other hand, PASSABLE refers to being able to be passed or to be barely satisfactory/adequate.
FOREGO refers to going before or preceding, while FORGO means to refrain or to give up.
ANY BODY, when written as two words, refers to a body such as a corpse, a body of water, etc. ANYBODY as a single word, refers to a group of people, but not to any particular individual.
This next one drives my “gentleman friend” a bit bonkers. He has been known to point out the mistake to more than one shopkeeper. EVERYDAY, refers to days in general, without emphasizing any particular day. (Winning the lottery is not an everyday experience.) EVERY DAY emphasizes the individual day, with the word “every” acting as an adjective to describe the noun “day.” One way to know which is correct is to substitute “each” for “every.” (Every day is a learning experience.)
Likewise, EVERYBODY and EVERYONE refer to several or many people, but not to one particular individual, while EVERY BODY refers to a specific body, as in a corpse, body of water, etc., and EVERY ONE refers to a particular individual.
FAMOUS means to be well known for exemplary reasons, while INFAMOUS and NOTORIOUS are for unfavorable reasons.
PRECEDE means to go before, while PROCEED means to go on or to continue.
The past tense of PLEA should be PLEADED, not PLED. [The criminal pleaded guilty (not pled guilty).]
RESPECTFULLY is a dutiful manner. RESPECTIVELY means to refer to two or more people, places, or things in the order in which they are listed.
The same rule applies to both RARELY (or RARELY IF EVER) and to SELDOM (or SELDOM IF EVER). An action may occur rarely or rarely if ever, but rarely ever (or seldom ever) is inaccurate. In fact, it is best to use rarely (seldom) or never. It would be incorrect to say “Editors rarely ever make mistakes.” The sentence should read “Editors rarely make mistakes” or “Editors never make mistakes.”
IRREGARDLESS is not standard English, REGARDLESS of how many times one sees it in print.
BECAUSE should be used to indicate a cause or a reason, while SINCE refers to time, meaning between then and now. It would be incorrect to say, “Since she knows the truth of the circumstances, the prosecutor sought the death penalty.”
NUMBER refers to a quantity of people or things which can be counted. AMOUNT refers to an indefinite quantity that cannot be counted.
Although I generally use this distinction correctly, for this one, I must always pause to say the rule in my head before I continue to write: IN BEHALF OF means for the benefit of, while ON BEHALF OF means in place of. (The attorney speaks on behalf of his client.)
AMONG is used when the number is three or more, while BETWEEN is used for two people, places, or things.
Finally, for today, this is one I often see misused in many published books: DIFFERENT FROM is the acceptable form, not DIFFERENT THAN.