Check this out: I learned a new word! Well, not really, but I have solidified the spelling of a word that’s always been just a little squishy in my head, and I bet you know what it is: colossal. I can’t say I’d recommend the approach of having to confirm a word twenty times a day, necessarily, but I can tell you it certainly does wonders for getting that word down stone cold.
We all have our personal demons when it comes to spelling and grammar, and the best tricks for remembering the correct usage are, well, whatever works for you. It’s been a while since I’ve discussed some of the words most commonly confused for each other, so I’m diving back into that today. If you missed the earlier lists, check out Insider 7-12-2011 and Insider 9-20-2011.
If any of these words are on your own list, try out the tricks I’ve listed and let me know how it goes. In the same vein, if you have any special tricks you’ve found that help you remember which word has which meaning, head over to the Privateer Press forums and share the wealth of knowledge!
If you’re gossiping or scheming, you probably want “discreet,” a word that means careful or prudent. The other spelling, “discrete,” means separate, distinct, or unconnected.
Trick of Remembering: The two “e’s” are separate from each other in the spelling for the word that means separate: discrete.
This is one our players are pretty familiar with (for obvious reasons), but it’s so common I’ll mention it anyway. A “horde” is a big group. “Hoard” as a noun means a bunch of stuff. As a verb, it means to save something greedily—and not just newspapers and cats, either.
Yup, there’s a difference! Don’t combine “in” and “to” just because they happen to land next to each other. “Into” is for entering something (like a room or a profession), for changing the form of something (an iron lich into a lich lord, for instance), or for making contact (with a friend or a wall, perhaps). Otherwise, use “in to.”
Trick of Remembering: If you can drop the “in” without losing the meaning, the term you want is “in to.”
To “lay” is to place something; there’s always a “something” being placed. To “lie” is to recline. These two get really confusing in the past tense, but .
Trick of Remembering: For the present tense, note that the words rhyme with their definitions: lay – place and lie – recline. For the past tense, note that “recline” also has the “n” sound that shows up in “lain.” It’s a match!
Both “to” and “too” are used two ways—how’s that for annoying? But their definitions are pretty simple. “To” is put with verbs to form the infinitive (like “to form” in this sentence), but also serves as a preposition describing movement toward something.
“Too” is used a synonym of “also” as well as to show a great degree of something.
Trick of Remembering: Although the meanings aren’t exactly the same, you can look at “to” as shorthand for “toward.” It’s even right there in the word. “Too,” on the other hands, is for adding more—like another “o.”