Quiz: Can You Tell If These Commonly Misused Words Are Being Used Correctly?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Tell If These Commonly Misused Words Are Being Used Correctly?
By: E-maginne Grant
6 Min Quiz
Image: Nastasic/E+/Getty Images
About This Quiz
Words have been misused since the beginning of time. We humans have a way of making things up as we go. Call it innovation! Some words that begin as slang become a household name and are eventually added to the dictionary.
For example, conversate is a common slang word. Merriam-Webster's dictionary discovered a citation from the year 1811 where conversate was used. Archibald Loudon wrote, "Elizabeth and her children were once more favored with the agreeable opportunity of seeing and conversating with her ancient mother." In 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary added conversate as an official word. Drop this knowledge the next time someone argues with you as to whether or not conversate is a word.
How many common words have you been misusing all your life? Maybe you have impeccable grammar. If so, we tip our hats to you! Take this quiz and you can not only identify some commonly misused words but find out some cool facts along the way. What a way to kill two birds with one stone! Is it there, their, or they're? You tell us! Do you know the difference between allusion and illusion? Here's your chance to find out. The first question is an easy one, we promise!
Can you identify which word in the following sentence is being misused? I wanted too receive a royal baby shower invitation, but it's restricted to royal family members.
The "too" and "to" dilemma is one as old as time. How do you remember when to use the right one? Too is an adverb that means also or excessive, like one too many o's. To is a preposition meaning towards or in the direction of.
Starfish can regrow limbs. Their central disc is the key to regeneration. Is there a common word in this interesting fact being used incorrectly?
It may sound strange, but Starfish can regrow limbs! It takes about a year for a limb to fully regenerate. You might even catch a starfish in mid-regeneration phase. Of course, it will only look like a stunted limb, but interesting nonetheless.
The ashes of Fredric Baur, the man who invented the Pringles can, where put in a Pringles can when he passed in 2008. I love Pringles, but I'm sure one of these words are being used incorrectly. Do you see it too?
If only we could have a permanent guide to tell us when to use where, were and we're. Since we are talking in past tense, "were" is the right answer. Think of something you were going to buy, but decided not to.
Fill in the blank: In 1923 Hollywood was originally named Hollywoodland. Actors and actresses still go ____ and risk it all with dreams of being discovered.
That's right, when the sign was first built in 1923, it said "Hollywoodland." The sign cost roughly $21,000 to build. That's over $300,000 today. Sadly, the "land" part was removed in 1949 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Hot water can freeze faster than cold water, it's called the Mpemba effect. Pick the word that is similar to effect.
The word effect is one that stumps a lot of us, mostly because it's hard to determine when to use effect or affect. Remember, effect is the a final result, while affect refers to the influence of something. I think this quiz will have a positive effect on you.
Yogurtland, a frozen desert shop, has over 200 delicious flavors. There's a word in this sentence that doesn't seem to fit. Can you find it?
We wouldn't be able to find a desert at Yogurtland, but there are plenty of desserts. How can you remember how many s's to use? Strawberry shortcake is delicious, but it also has 2 s's. So does dessert!
Which sentence is using the word "Aisle" correctly?
Those pesky airplane aisles are very hard to walk through. Since we can't change the aisles, let's use it to our advantage. Airplane starts with an "A" and so does Aisle. Those narrow aisles serve a purpose after all.
Which word belongs in the sentence below? I look forward to the _____ soap and lotion they give you at five star hotels.
We all love anything complimentary. They say the best things in life are free. Sometimes complimentary and complementary are used as if they mean the same thing, but only complimentary means free.
Fill in the blank: In the 2008 movie, "The Hurt Locker," the most thrilling scene was when Sergeant William James had to _____ the bomb!
Be careful not to confuse defuse with diffuse. Defuse means to remove or reduce a fuse or danger. Diffuse refers to spreading something out. Think of your aromatherapy oil diffuser spreading the lavender scent all around your room.
Affect is a common misused word. Remember the effect/affect debate from earlier? Which word can be a synonym for affect?
We just love the effect/affect dilemma. Here's another tip to help you remember which word to use. Remember the poem by Edgar Allan Poe titled "The Raven"? It stands for "Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun." Thank us later!
Read is an interesting word. It can be read two ways without changing the spelling. Which sentence does "read" not belong in?
Now that you've read the question, read this tongue twister. "A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk." Try to read that three times in a row!
Which sentence is using the word apart correctly? Go ahead, pick each sentence apart.
Don't well all just love the grand old apart dilemma. Sometimes spellcheck doesn't catch us when we use it in a sentence incorrectly. Here's the deal, apart means to separate. You want to separate "a" from "part." Happy separating!
Disassemble and unassembled have very similar means and are often used in place of each other. Which word closely relates to disassemble?
This might be a tough one. Disassemble is used when you are taking something fully apart. Unassembled refers to a part of something that needs to be put together. For example, all of the pieces of a desk will come packaged together but each one will be unassembled.
Let's explore the definition of allude! It's not uncommon to confuse allude with illude. Do you know the difference? Pick the word that can also mean allude.
All of these answers have hints that allude to the correct answer. That's what allude means: to hint or suggest. Think of it as someone whispering, "Hey, over there."
Which word should be in the sentence below? Death Valley, California has one of the hottest ______ in the world!
The Mojave Desert is in Death Valley, California. The highest temperature ever recorded was in 1913 at a blazing 134 degrees Fahrenheit or 56.7 degrees Celsius. A tasty frozen dessert has no chance in this outside oven. A pizza might do well though.
Irregardless of how you use it, it's not a real word. Sorry guys. Not to worry, there is a word that means what irregardless should mean. See if you can guess it below.
Irregardless is a slang word similar to conversate, except it hasn't been officially added to the dictionary yet. Although, with decades of consistent use, it might be added. Oddly, this non-existent word still holds a definition of without regard.
Have you ever seen the phrase "Due Diligence?" This is a commonly misunderstood phrase. Can you tell us what it really means?
When hearing the phrase "Due Diligence," a lot of people may visualize the phrase as "Do Diligence." This could be the reason for the misunderstanding. Due diligence is a legal term that promises all parties and businesses will be fully investigated.
Principal and principle sound exactly the same. It shouldn't be a crime to misuse them, but it is a crime, a grammar crime. Which phrase below is a true example of a life principle?
Anything can become a life principle. A principle is a realization that supports a specific set of beliefs or thought process. Another example of a principle is "Don't go to bed angry." I know you've heard that one before.
One of the words below is not like the others. Which word means "to hold royal office?"
Queen Elizabeth II has surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria. That makes her the longest reigning Queen in the history of the British monarch. Can we say #queengoals?
Which word below sounds similar to disburse but means to distribute or scatter.
They sound the same, but there is a specific difference. Disburse is usually using when referring to paying out a type of currency. For example, your boss disburses bonus checks every Christmas. Isn't that nice?
Pick the right word for the following sentence. A chicken is able to live with ____ head cut off for a few minutes until they eventually bleed to death.
Have you ever heard of Mike the Headless Chicken? Legend has it that he was able to live for 18 months after his head was cut off. Mike is special, other chickens wouldn't last more than five minutes.
What common word below is often confused with the word accept?
All of the answer options are a synonym of give except the right answer. Except excludes things while accept includes everything. Don't you just love how the word accept is so accepting?
Winston Churchill said, "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Which word is commonly used in place of farther?
Winston Churchill was an interesting individual that a lot of people are still enamored with today. A little known fact is that in 1953, Winston Churchill won a Nobel Prize in Literature. Imagine that!
This word is an item that is made of wood, but sounds like something a painter will use. Which word is it?
I know you were thinking of palette, but that is the object a painter uses. Pallet is the wooden structure often used to transport heavy things. It is also referred to as a make-shift bed. Like the pallets you slept on at slumber parties as a kid.
Here's an interesting fact. Your reading this question right now! Here's another fact. There's a commonly misused word in the second sentence.
The beautiful your and you're. Most of the confusion is a result of the phonetics of each word. Newsflash, they sound exactly the same! Just remember that in you're, the apostrophe is taking the place of an "A."
"Piqued my interest" is a phrase I'm sure we've all used. Which word below is commonly misused for piqued?
This might be a surprise, but pique is the correct word to use in this phrase. Pique means to stimulate or excite. I'm sure some of the interesting facts in this quiz have piqued your interest once or twice or 26 times.
Let's get the right word in that blank: ____ really smart if you know that killer whales aren't whales.
Despite their famous name, killer whales aren't whales at all. They are orcas, closely related to the dolphin family. Now all we have to do is find out if they're killers or not.
I know you've been waiting to test your knowledge on neither/either. One is defined as "not one or the other." Do you know which one, or do they both mean the same thing?
Saying neither and either can really prove to be a tongue twister. Here's a harder tongue twister for you to try. "Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep." Have fun with those silly words.
In the worst-case scenario, you can guess the commonly misused word in this phrase.
You might have heard someone say, or maybe you have said, worse-case scenario. The true phrase is "worst-case scenario," as in failing this quiz wouldn't be the worst-case scenario. Or would it?
Fill in the blank: Famous diva Tina Turner was able to _____ her legs for $3.2 million!
Tina Turner isn't the only celebrity to insure a single body part. Heidi Klum's legs are insured for $2.2 million. Other celebrities insure things like their voice, or other common body parts.
"Peace of mind" is a phrase we've all heard. What common word has been incorrectly used instead of peace?
Having a piece of mind wouldn't be such a bad idea. As long as all the other pieces are there too. A piece of mind translates to one portion of your mind. I prefer a peace of mind. Much more tranquil.
For all intensive purposes sounds like a common phrase, but one word is being misused. Pick the correct one.
It's really hard to say why this phrase has been misused so much. We could blame it on dialect which is a viable answer. For all intents and purposes, we provided you with the correct phrase.
Which commonly used phrase means to make something work, but is often confused with making something owed?
The full phrase is when life gives you lemons, you make do and make lemonade. Under capitalism, it seems like all of the 99% is making do, while the 1% hoards the vast majority of wealth. At least we've got lemonade?
Let's see if you can fill in the empty word below. A lot of people share similar tastes and flavor ____, but our tongue print is as unique as our fingerprint.
It's true, everyone has a unique tongue print just like a fingerprint or a snowflake. No two are the same. It's highly unlikely that the FBI will have a record of your tongue print, but your dentist might.
You've reached the end! Here's an easy one to celebrate. This word is similar to lose, but means not firmly attached.
We all have had to check to make sure we were using the right lose or loose. You might be a super grammar hero if you don't. Lose means to deprive of, like depriving the word of an extra O.
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