Grammar-ease: Passed vs Past and Other Confusing Words

In my editing endeavors recently I’ve encountered a lot of words that spellcheck doesn’t always catch and so it prompted me to share a few of them with you.

Passed (verb) vs Past (preposition or adverb)

  • The time has passed for you to submit the rebuttal.
  • That event happened in the past.
  • I passed by the door on the way to the bathroom.
  • I walked past the door.

Confusing WordsTwo vs Too

  • Two is a number (2) — I have two cycling friends.
  • Too means ‘also’ — I have to invite my cycling friends to the event, too.

Four vs For

  • Four is a number (4) — She has four brothers.
  • For is a preposition (or conjunction) — She needs her brothers for protection.

Peace (noun; uncountable) vs Piece (noun; countable)

  • The peace between the cats and dogs lasted until the treats were devoured.
  • Mom won’t get a moment’s peace until Dad gets home and can watch the baby.
  • Meditation helps reach a peace of mind.
  • She used four pieces of paper.
  • The musicians separated the sheet music into separate pieces.
  • Can you give me a piece of advice, please?

Of course there is their/there, too, and so many others. I’m sure you come across many in your daily reading. Share a few that you see too often or that have stuck with you, in the comments.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

16 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: Passed vs Past and Other Confusing Words

  1. Your/you’re is of course the classic one.
    The most frustrating thing about errors like these is how easy they are to make, regardless of one’s language knowledge.
    I’ve been an English-language teacher for over 6 years and know my grammar inside out, but often I’ll find myself making mistakes with homophones while writing and not fully concentrating, so I’ll write “here” instead of “hear,” for example.
    I suppose it’s because while I’m typing I’m subvocalising, and my brain will occasionally associate the wrong word with the sound.
    It was very embarrassing recently though, as I’m currently studying on a course for professional-development (the Delta) which is very strict on typos. In one assignment I wrote “their” instead of “there” and my tutor casually marked it for correction without saying anything. I was very tempted to email him saying ‘I know the difference between “their” and “there,” I promise I do!’ but I resisted!

  2. One I’m sure is just the result of a lapse of attention, yet one I’ve seen twice recently in indie books: break vs. brake (as in the mechanism that stops a car)!

    A pair that I think legitimately confuses people is farther/further. If you can remember that “farther” refers to “A”ctual physical distance, maybe that will work. “Further” often refers more to an addition of some sort than a distance: “He stated further that. . . .”

    The gray area might be when the “actual physical distance” is “mental” or metaphorical distance: “He took the idea (further or farther?) than anyone else had.” I’d use “farther” here, I think, but a case could be made for either.

  3. Pingback: Grammar-ease: Passed vs Past and Other Confusing Words | Slattery's Art of Horror Weblog

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