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Ch 12: Word Usage Rules

About This Chapter

The Word Usage Rules chapter of this English Grammar Rules course is the most efficient way to study the rules for using the correct words in a sentence. This chapter uses simple and fun lessons that take about five minutes to complete, plus includes lesson quizzes and a chapter exam to ensure you understand the essential concepts associated with word usage rules.

Who's It For?

Anyone who needs help learning or mastering word usage rules will benefit from the lessons in this chapter. There is no faster or easier way to learn about word usage rules. Among those who would benefit are:

  • Students who want to learn a broad topic in a short amount of time
  • Students who are looking for easy ways to identify the most important information on the topic
  • Students who have fallen behind in memorizing the rules about which words to use within the context of a sentence
  • Students who prefer multiple ways of learning English grammar (visual or auditory)
  • Students who have missed class time and need to catch up
  • Students who have limited time to study for an upcoming exam

How It Works:

  • Complete each lesson in the chapter to review all key topics.
  • Refer to the lesson to reinforce your learning.
  • Test your understanding of each lesson with a short quiz.
  • Complete your review with the Word Usage Rules chapter exam.

Why It Works:

  • Study Efficiently: The lessons in this chapter cover only information you need to know.
  • Retain What You Learn: Engaging instruction and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
  • Be Ready on Test Day: Take the Word Usage Rules chapter exam to make sure you're prepared.
  • Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any English question. They're here to help!
  • Study With Flexibility: View lessons on any web-ready device.

Students Will Review:

This chapter summarizes the material students need to know about word usage rules for a standard English course. Topics covered include:

  • 'Then' vs 'than'
  • Using 'further' instead of 'farther'
  • 'Principle' vs 'principal'
  • Differences between 'towards' and 'toward'
  • Identifying when to use 'compliment' instead of 'complement'
  • Comparing 'lay' and 'lie'
  • When to use 'Miss,' 'Ms.', and 'Mrs.'
  • Distinguishing when to use 'which' instead of 'that'
  • Rules for using 'therefore' and 'henceforth'
  • Distinguishing between 'advice' and 'advise'
  • Comparing 'lose' and 'loose'
  • 'Choose' instead of 'chose'
  • 'Breath' vs 'breathe'
  • 'Comprise' and 'compose'
  • 'Accept' vs 'except'
  • Using 'averse' instead of 'adverse'
  • 'Allude' compared to 'elude'
  • Using 'beside' or 'besides'
  • Distinguishing 'board' from 'bored'
  • When to use 'conscience' instead of 'conscious'
  • 'Council' vs 'counsel'
  • 'Devise' vs 'device'
  • Using 'formally' instead of 'formerly'
  • Identify when to use 'human' and 'humane'
  • 'Latter' and 'later'
  • Differences between 'lead' and 'led'
  • Understanding when to use 'lesson' instead of 'lessen'
  • 'Lightning' compared to 'lightening'
  • Using 'maybe' instead of 'may be'
  • Distinguishing 'morale' from 'moral'
  • Differences between 'personal' and 'personnel'
  • 'Proceed' vs 'precede'
  • Establishing how to use 'quiet' instead of 'quite'
  • Explaining 'since' vs 'sense'
  • 'Where' and 'were'
  • Choosing 'whoever' instead of 'whomever'
  • Using 'among' or 'amongst'
  • Distinguishing between 'worst' and 'worse'
  • When to use 'past' or 'passed'
  • 'Advisor' vs 'adviser'
  • Rules for using 'less' and 'fewer'
  • Proper usage of 'use to' and 'used to'
  • When to use 'needless to say'
  • 'Was' and 'were'
  • Distinguishing between 'ensure' and 'assure'
  • Using 'not only, but also'
  • Rules for 'as such'
  • 'A' vs 'an'
  • When to use 'assume' and 'presume'
  • 'Immigrate' vs 'emigrate'
  • 'Continually' compared to 'continuously'
  • Using 'nauseous' or 'nauseated'
  • Distinguishing between 'over' and 'more than'
  • Differences between 'good' and 'well'
  • When to use 'has' or 'have'
  • Distinguishing among 'begin', 'began,' and 'begun'
  • 'Equity' vs 'equality'
  • Identifying whether 'as follows' or 'as follow' is correct
  • When to use 'hence' in a sentence
  • 'Me' vs 'I'
  • The definition of 'hereinafter'
  • 'Suppose' and 'supposed'
  • 'Attain' vs 'obtain'
  • Rules for using 'otherwise'
  • Difference between 'hanged' and 'hung'
  • Understanding 'spilled' vs 'spilt'
  • Rules for 'all the while'
  • Comprehending 'digress' in a sentence
  • Distinguishing between 'brought' and 'bought'
  • 'Is' vs 'are'
  • Uses for 'however'
  • 'Either' or 'neither'
  • The rules and meaning of 'neither/nor'
  • 'It's' vs 'its'
  • Comma usage and meaning of 'as well as'
  • Differences between 'you and I' and 'you and me'

77 Lessons in Chapter 12: Word Usage Rules
When to Use Then & Than

1. When to Use Then & Than

'Then' and 'than' are two words that are commonly confused but actually do very different things in a sentence as 'then' is an adverb and 'than' is a preposition.

When to Use Further or Farther

2. When to Use Further or Farther

'Further' and 'farther' are often thought to be interchangeable, but there are some significant differences, including when to use each one and how they are used as parts of speech.

Using Principle vs Principal

3. Using Principle vs Principal

The homonyms 'principal' and 'principle' are commonly confused but have different meanings and jobs in a sentence. Learn the differences between the two, as well as how they are used, in this lesson.

When to Use Towards or Toward

4. When to Use Towards or Toward

Is 'toward' or 'towards' the correct usage of this common word? It turns out both are acceptable, though 'toward' is more acceptable in American English while 'towards' is more acceptable in British language.

Compliment vs Complement

5. Compliment vs Complement

'Compliment' and 'complement' often cause confusion because not only do they sound alike, but they perform similar functions in a sentence. This lesson will explain how to correctly use both 'compliment' and 'complement' as both a noun and a verb.

Using Lay vs Lie

6. Using Lay vs Lie

In this lesson, you will learn to tell the difference between two very similar verbs: lay and lie. Although they have very similar meanings, they are used in different ways, and you need to be careful.

Difference Between Miss, Ms. & Mrs.

7. Difference Between Miss, Ms. & Mrs.

When referring to a female, you might use the words Miss, Ms. or Mrs. Come and learn about what each word means, as well as receive some guidance about how to select the most appropriate term.

Using Which vs That

8. Using Which vs That

Whether you will use the word WHICH or THAT to introduce a clause depends on whether it is intended to be a restrictive or a non-restrictive clause. In this lesson, we will learn the difference between these clauses and discover how to use each word correctly.

How to Use Therefore in a Sentence

9. How to Use Therefore in a Sentence

'Therefore' is an important word that is sometimes misused in a sentence. When used correctly, it can impress your reader. When used incorrectly, it can make your reader lose interest. In this lesson, you'll learn how to use 'therefore' correctly.

How to Use Henceforth in a Sentence

10. How to Use Henceforth in a Sentence

'Henceforth' is an important-sounding word that gives your reader a point in time. Used correctly, it can help your reader understand exactly when you want something to happen. In this lesson, you will learn how to use 'henceforth' in different sentence structures.

Using Advice vs Advise

11. Using Advice vs Advise

'Advice' and 'advise' are often confused because they sound similar and have similar meanings, but they actually do different things in a sentence. Read this lesson to discover the difference.

Using Lose vs Loose

12. Using Lose vs Loose

Though they look and sound similar, 'lose' and 'loose' have very different meanings and also do different jobs as they are different parts of speech. 'Lose' is a verb while 'loose' is an adjective. Read this lesson to learn more.

Using Choose vs Chose

13. Using Choose vs Chose

In the English language, we use verbs to indicate actions and we use different forms of the verbs to indicate whether the action occurred in the past, is currently occurring or is going to occur at some point in the future. This lesson will look at the present and simple past tense of the verb 'to choose.'

Difference Between Breath & Breathe

14. Difference Between Breath & Breathe

The English language contains many words that are similar in both spelling and meaning but are used differently. Understanding the differences in these types of words will help you in both your reading and writing. In this lesson, we will compare the words ''breath'' and ''breathe.''

Using Comprise vs Compose

15. Using Comprise vs Compose

'Comprise' and 'compose' can be confusing because they look and sound similar and they are both verbs, meaning they do the same job in a sentence. But they mean different things. This lesson will walk you through what each word means and how each is used in a sentence.

Using Accept vs Except

16. Using Accept vs Except

'Accept' and 'except' are homonyms that sound alike, but mean very different things, as well as do different jobs in a sentence. 'Accept' is a verb while 'except' can be a verb or preposition.

Using Adverse vs Averse

17. Using Adverse vs Averse

It's hard to imagine that adding a ''d'' to a word can change the meaning completely. Adverse and averse are two easily confused words with different meanings. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of both words.

Using Allude vs Elude

18. Using Allude vs Elude

The words 'allude' and 'elude' often confuse people, both because they sound alike and refer to actions. This lesson will explain the different actions each word refers to and how to tell them apart.

When to Use Beside or Besides

19. When to Use Beside or Besides

Beside and besides are two of the trickiest words in the English language. One small ~'s~' can cause the word to mean something completely different. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of when to use beside and besides.

Difference Between Bored & Board

20. Difference Between Bored & Board

'Bored' and 'board' are homonyms that are commonly mistaken for each other, but have very different meanings and also do different things in a sentence. This lesson will help you to remember the difference between these two words.

Using Conscience vs Conscious

21. Using Conscience vs Conscious

Are you conscious that you have a conscience? These two similarly sounding words confuse many readers and writers, but this lesson will explain when to use the adjective conscious and the noun conscience.

Using Council vs Counsel

22. Using Council vs Counsel

Council and counsel are similar sounding words that have different meanings. Used incorrectly, they can cause confusion. In this lesson, you will learn the meanings of both words and their proper usage.

Using Device vs Devise

23. Using Device vs Devise

What is the difference between 'device' and 'devise?' One is a verb, meaning to make something, while the other is a noun, referring to the thing that gets made.

When to Use Formally or Formerly

24. When to Use Formally or Formerly

'Formally' and 'formerly' are words that sound very similar, due in part to the fact that they are both adverbs and end in '-ly'. This lesson will walk you through how to use each of these adverbs correctly in a sentence.

Difference Between Human & Humane

25. Difference Between Human & Humane

The words 'human' and 'humane' look and sound similar because they have a similar origin, but today their meanings are very different. This lesson will discuss when and how to use both.

Using Later vs Latter

26. Using Later vs Latter

'Later' and 'latter' cause confusion because they look alike and have somewhat similar meanings. But they have different jobs in a sentence. This lesson will help you sort out which is which.

Using Led vs Lead

27. Using Led vs Lead

Led and lead can be very confusing. They can function as different parts of speech but sometimes sound alike. In this lesson, you will learn the correct pronunciation and usage of these confusing words.

When to Use Lesson or Lessen

28. When to Use Lesson or Lessen

The homonyms 'lesson' and 'lessen' can cause confusion but it is easy to tell them apart if you remember their parts of speech. This lesson will walk you through how to use the noun 'lesson' and the verb 'lessen'.

When to Use Lightning or Lightening

29. When to Use Lightning or Lightening

Determining which word to use in a sentence can be difficult, especially when the words look or sound very similar. Come and learn what to do in this situation when you are deciding between lightning and lightening.

Using Maybe vs May Be

30. Using Maybe vs May Be

Is it proper to write 'maybe' as one word or 'may be' as two words? Well it turns out both are correct, as they do different jobs in a sentence. This lesson will walk you through how to use each one.

When to Use Moral or Morale

31. When to Use Moral or Morale

It's hard to imagine that adding an 'e' to a word can completely change the meaning. Moral and morale have two different meanings and pronunciations. In this lesson, you will learn the meaning and the correct usage of moral and morale.

Using Personal vs Personnel

32. Using Personal vs Personnel

The words personal and personnel look and sound similar. If used incorrectly, these words can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Learn the correct usage of personal and personnel and some tricks to help you remember the difference.

Using Proceed vs Precede

33. Using Proceed vs Precede

The homonyms 'proceed' and 'precede' can cause confusion, but a reader or writer can tell them apart by paying attention to the prefixes at the beginning of each word, which give a clue to their meaning. This lesson will help you decode the prefixes.

Using Quite vs Quiet

34. Using Quite vs Quiet

The similarly spelled words 'quite' and 'quiet' trip up even the most experienced writers and readers and lead to confusion. This lesson will discuss the difference between the noun 'quiet' and the adverb 'quite'.

Using Since vs Sense

35. Using Since vs Sense

Since and sense may sound similar but they mean very different things. They are commonly confused words that can cause difficulties. In this lesson, you will learn the different meanings and correct usage of since and sense.

Using Where vs Were

36. Using Where vs Were

Where and were are easily confused words. They sound similar but mean two very different things. They are often mistaken for each other, especially in writing. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of where and were.

Using Whoever vs Whomever

37. Using Whoever vs Whomever

There is a common misconception that 'whomever' is more formal than 'whoever,' but in fact, neither word is 'better' or more formal. Instead, the words do different jobs, as 'whoever' is used for the subject of sentences and 'whomever' is used for objects.

Using Among vs Amongst

38. Using Among vs Amongst

Among and amongst sound very similar. Most people have seen both words used, but it can be confusing what they actually mean. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of among and amongst.

Using Worse vs Worst

39. Using Worse vs Worst

When is something worse, and when is it the worst? Both of these words function as adjectives and adverbs to describe something bad, but ~'worse~' is just somewhat bad, while ~'worst~' is the absolute bottom, as we'll learn in this lesson.

Using Passed vs Past

40. Using Passed vs Past

The homonyms 'past' and 'passed' can be easily confused for each other, as they sometimes also have similar meanings, but remembering their parts of speech can eliminate this confusion.

When to Use Advisor or Adviser

41. When to Use Advisor or Adviser

What's the difference between 'advisor' and 'adviser'? Nothing really, as both are widely accepted spellings of a word with the same meaning. But the different versions are more commonly used in specific contexts, and this lesson will walk you through those.

When to Use Less or Fewer

42. When to Use Less or Fewer

When do you use 'less,' and when do you use 'fewer?' Both mean similar things, but they have different uses based on whether the noun you are describing is countable or not.

Which is Correct: Use To or Used To?

43. Which is Correct: Use To or Used To?

In this lesson, we will examine when it is most appropriate to use the phrase 'used to' and when is the most appropriate time to leave out the 'd' and write 'use to.'

How to Use Needless to Say

44. How to Use Needless to Say

Needless to say can be a tricky expression. It may seem that an expression that says needless to say might not be needed to be said. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of needless to say and when to use the expression.

When to Use Was & Were

45. When to Use Was & Were

'Was' and 'were' are both past tense versions of the verb 'be,' and knowing which one to use depends on the person and number of the noun doing the action. In this lesson, we will discuss the proper usage in detail.

Difference Between Assure & Ensure

46. Difference Between Assure & Ensure

'Assure' and 'ensure' cause confusion because they sound alike and have similar meanings. But there is a difference between these two words, and this lesson will sort it out for you.

How to Use Not Only, But Also

47. How to Use Not Only, But Also

Proper word choice in a sentence can help you become a masterful communicator. In this video, you'll learn about the proper way to use 'not only, but also' in the construction of a sentence.

How to Use As Such

48. How to Use As Such

In this lesson, we will examine the proper use of 'as such' in a sentence by looking at several examples of correct and incorrect usage of this phrase. Then try your hand at some example questions.

When to Use A or An

49. When to Use A or An

The articles 'a' and 'an' perform a similar job in sentences. So how do you know which one is right in any given situation? This lesson will walk you through the process of figuring that out.

Difference Between Assume & Presume

50. Difference Between Assume & Presume

Is there a difference between the words 'assume' and 'presume', or do they mean the same thing? They both mean to suppose something to be true, but they differ based on how sure you are. Find out which one is which in this lesson.

When to Use Emigrate or Immigrate

51. When to Use Emigrate or Immigrate

There has been a lot of news about people emigrating and immigrating, but these words can be confusing to use. In this lesson, we will look at the correct usage of both words and examine different word forms of both emigrate and immigrate.

When to Use Continually or Continuously

52. When to Use Continually or Continuously

A common mistake that people make when writing and speaking is confusing the terms 'continuously' and 'continually.' In this lesson, we will learn when to correctly use these words.

When to Use Nauseous or Nauseated

53. When to Use Nauseous or Nauseated

'Nauseous' and 'nauseated' have similar meanings, both referring to being made to feel physically ill, but they do different jobs in a sentence. 'Nauseated' is a verb that shows the action of making someone ill, while 'nauseous' is an adjective that describes the state of being physically ill.

When to Use More Than or Over

54. When to Use More Than or Over

There are times when one word is a better choice than another in a sentence. In this lesson, you will learn about the proper way to use the terms 'more than' and 'over' in your speaking and writing.

Difference Between Well & Good

55. Difference Between Well & Good

While people often use them interchangeably, 'well' and 'good' are actually different parts of speech that do different things. 'Well' can either be an adjective or adverb, while 'good' can either be an adjective or noun.

Using Has vs Have

56. Using Has vs Have

Many people are unsure of when to use 'has' or 'have' because they are different forms of the same verb, but each works with different nouns. Learn how to always tell when you need 'has' and 'have' by looking at the noun that goes with it.

When to Use Begin, Began or Begun

57. When to Use Begin, Began or Begun

Because 'begin' is an irregular verb, its past tense forms ('began' and 'begun') can be confusing. This lesson explains the difference between the present tense 'begin,' simple past tense 'began,' and past participle 'begun.'

Using Equity vs Equality

58. Using Equity vs Equality

'Equity' and 'equality' cause a lot of confusion because not only do they look and sound similar, they are both nouns and have similar meanings. However, they don't have the exact same meaning, and this lesson will help explain the difference.

As Follows or As Follow - Which Is Correct?

59. As Follows or As Follow - Which Is Correct?

How do you use 'as follows' or 'as follow'? While it seems like you have a 50/50 chance of being right, after this lesson, you will know how to be correct 100% of the time! This lesson helps you learn the meaning of theses phrases and when to use them.

How to Use Hence in a Sentence

60. How to Use Hence in a Sentence

Many people use 'hence' to sound fancy, but are they using it correctly? 'Hence' is a conjunctive adverb that shows cause and effect between two parts of a sentence, and this lesson will show you how to use it and actually sound fancy.

When to Use I or Me

61. When to Use I or Me

'I' and 'me' are both first-person pronouns that a writer or speaker uses to refer to him or herself, but contrary to popular belief, one is not better than the other. Instead they just do different jobs, as 'I' replaces subjects and 'me' replaces objects.

Hereinafter: Definition & Usage

62. Hereinafter: Definition & Usage

Hereinafter is a large word that sounds like something Shakespeare would have said. In this lesson, you will learn the meaning of hereinafter and its correct usage.

When to Use Suppose or Supposed

63. When to Use Suppose or Supposed

'Suppose' and 'supposed' often confuse people because 'supposed' is both the past tense form of the verb 'suppose' and also functions as an adjective, or describing word.

Using Attain vs Obtain

64. Using Attain vs Obtain

The words attain and obtain sound similar and are both verbs. But, don't let these similarities fool you - these words have different meanings. In this lesson, you will learn the differences between attain and obtain and how to use each word correctly.

How to Use Otherwise in a Sentence

65. How to Use Otherwise in a Sentence

'Otherwise' is a versatile word that can be used in different scenarios as either an adverb or an adjective. In this lesson, we'll examine the proper use of the word 'otherwise.'

When to Use Hanged or Hung

66. When to Use Hanged or Hung

Using hanged and hung incorrectly can lead to embarrassing misuses of these confused words. Used incorrectly, the words can change the meaning of a sentence dramatically. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of both words.

When to Use Spilled or Spilt

67. When to Use Spilled or Spilt

Spilled and spilt sound like similar words, and they are often confused and used interchangeably. In this lesson, you will learn a brief history of these words and learn the correct way to use each in a sentence.

All the While: Definition & Usage

68. All the While: Definition & Usage

'All the while' is becoming a more popular phrase that can be used to show different actions. Yet how is it exactly used, and what does it mean? In this lesson, you will learn what 'all the while' is and how to correctly use it.

How to Use Digress in a Sentence

69. How to Use Digress in a Sentence

You might have heard the word 'digress' being used in speech or writing, but was it being used correctly? Or should 'digress' even be used at all? In this lesson, you will learn the meaning of 'digress' and when to use it.

Using Brought vs Bought

70. Using Brought vs Bought

The words 'brought' and 'bought' are very similar, but they have completely different meanings. Using these words correctly is easy once you understand the differences in the words.

When to Use Is or Are

71. When to Use Is or Are

'Is' and 'are,' which are both forms of the verb 'be', can be quite challenging to use correctly. This lesson will explain how 'is' and 'are' function as forms of 'be' and how to properly use them.

How & When to Use However in a Sentence

72. How & When to Use However in a Sentence

The adverb however has several different useful purposes in a sentence, as it can join ideas together, to include an aside, or to mean 'in whatever manner'. But because it has so many uses, each requires specific punctuation to make sure your meaning is clear.

When to Use Either or Neither

73. When to Use Either or Neither

In English, you will often encounter words that sound similar, yet have different meanings. It is important to use them correctly in both writing and speaking. This lesson will discuss one pair of similar sounding words: either and neither.

Neither/Nor: Meaning, Rule & Examples

74. Neither/Nor: Meaning, Rule & Examples

In this lesson, we will learn when to use 'either/or' and when to use 'neither/nor' when comparing two choices. We will also learn about subject/verb agreement when making these comparisons.

When to Use Its or It's

75. When to Use Its or It's

Trying to figure out whether to use 'its' or 'it's' can be frustrating. In this lesson, we will go over the differences between these two words, as well as discuss how and when to use each of them.

As Well As: Meaning, Comma Usage & Example Sentences

76. As Well As: Meaning, Comma Usage & Example Sentences

In this lesson, we'll examine the use of the phrase '~'as well as'~' in sentences. We'll learn about some common mistakes that people make when using this phrase and how to correctly punctuate sentences using '~'as well as.'~'

When to Use 'You & I' or 'You & Me'

77. When to Use 'You & I' or 'You & Me'

There is a lot of confusion about when to use 'You and I' or 'You and me', but it becomes easy if you realize that 'I' is a subjective pronoun and 'me' is an objective pronoun.

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