© Nani, 2013

35. Who's The Boss?

Modern technology makes the writer's job far easier—and far more prone to error unless you take precaution. When you, as writers, rely on the stroke of the F7 key, the little green and red squiggles below your words, and the digital “brain” embedded in the document programs to do your thinking, you have lapsed into a far greater evil than have those who foisted these “aids” upon you. You have become lazy.
I. Many words will look correct to SpellCheck but are actually the wrong word for the sentence. While some spell checkers will find usage errors, most will not.

•  Example: "The rivers to witch the name Mesopotamia refers are the Tigress and You Freights."
•  Example: "The sight of Catalhuyuk is now manly a tourist attraction, though manly inspiring archeologists wont to work one a similar a dig.”

II. Other words will pass SpellCheck, and may even pass a cursory proofread, but their usage will depend entirely on the context and meaning of the sentence. Common words like this are:

•  Their ("belonging to them"), there ("in that place"), they're ("they are")
•  To ("toward"), too ("also"), two ("the second number")
•  Your ("belongs to you"), you're ("you are")
•  Loose ("not tight"), lose ("misplace")
•  Were ("used to be"), we're ("we are")

  Other less common (but equally important) mistakes occur some specific words:

•  Hoard ("stash of wealth"), horde ("Huns!!!")
•  Pour ("dispense liquid"), pore ("opening in a surface")
•  Cite ("reference"), site ("location"), sight ("vision")
•  Principle ("general rule"), principal ("primary")
•  Capitol ("government building"), capital ("important [city]" or "wealth")

  There is no room or need to explain these at length other than to suggest that you know the correct term for your context and employ it . . . well, correctly! Some of these homonymous words are discussed in section 12 (spelling) because they are actually spelling errors when employed in the wrong context.
III. Affect vs. Effect
  "Affect" has two pronunciations and two major uses:
  1. AF-fect (noun): "an emotion or emotional state." This is usually a technical term used by social scientists and the like. This is not a common usage in historical writing.
  2. af-FECT (verb): "to have an influence on." This spelling is often confused with "effect." It is also the version most commonly employed in historical writing.

•  Example: "The quality of Mesopotamian soil was adversely affected by ancient irrigation techniques."

  As a noun, "effect" indicates the result of some action.

•  Example: "Reports of the Assyrians' brutality had a fearsome effect on their neighbors."

Test The common phrase "cause and effect" is a handy mnemonic trick, because the second word in this phrase—effect—represents the most common usage of that word in formal writing. Also, "cause" is a verb just like "affect" usually is; therefore, remembering "cause and effect" ought to remind you that "affect and effect" operate in the same way—"affect" is a cause and "effect" is a result. Usually.

•  Example: "Cause is to affect as result is to effect." Or, "Affect and result is the same as cause and effect." Or, "Affect and result."

  Any of these can work to help you remember which word most commonly means which thing.
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