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İş İngilizcesi - Business English

İngilizce de Çoğunlukla Yanlış Kullanılan Terimler

Frequently Misused Terms 

ability vs. capacity

Ability is the state of being able to do something. Capacity is the potential for accommodating or containing.

about vs. approximately

About is more imprecise than approximately. Approximately means close to exact.

accept vs. except

Accept means to receive willingly. Except means excluding. access vs. excess Access means ability to approach. Excess means surplus.


This word has come into common misuse in business. It’s strictly a legal term, an adjective that means giving cause for legal action or a lawsuit. It should not be used in business writing unless the writing refers to legal matters.

adverse vs. averse

Adverse means harmful or unfavorable. Averse means feeling distaste.

advice vs. advise

Advice (noun) means opinion about what could or should be done. Advise (verb) means to offer suggestions.

advise vs. inform

Advise means to offer suggestions. Inform means to communicate knowledge.

adopt vs. adapt

Adopt means to take as one’s own. Adapt means to adjust.

affect vs. effect

Affect (verb) means to influence or change. Effect means to bring about (verb) or result (noun).

That movie affected me quite a bit.

The effect of that movie was powerful.

all ready vs. already

All ready means prepared. Already means previously.

all together vs. altogether

All together means in unison. Altogether means completely.

allude vs. elude

Allude means to refer to indirectly. Elude means to avoid or escape.

allude vs. refer

Allude means to refer to indirectly. Refer indicates a direct reference.

allusion vs. illusion

Allusion is indirect reference or hint. Illusion is an incorrect perception.

altar vs. alter

Altar is a sacred table. Alter is to change.

alternate vs. alternative

Alternate means substitute (adj.) or a substitute (noun). Alternative means offering a choice (adj.) or a situation offering a choice of two or more possibilities (noun).

among vs. between

Between introduces two items; among introduces more than two.

I am deciding between a red couch and a blue couch for the lobby.

I think the tan couch is my favorite among the choices.

amount vs. number

Amount refers to the quantity of something that cannot be counted in individual units (sugar, money). Number refers to something that can be counted in individual units (packages of sugar, dollars).

The amount of help we received was unprecedented. The number of people who helped was unprecedented.

anyone vs. any one

Anyone is used as an indefinite reference. Any one is used when singling out a person or thing in a group.

appraise vs. apprise

Appraise means to judge the worth of. Apprise means to inform.

assure vs. ensure vs. insure

Assure means to guarantee or convince. Ensure mean to make secure or certain. Insure also means to make secure or certain but is used in the sense of securing the value of life or property. Generally, things (lives, homes, autos) are insured; events are ensured; and people are assured.

awhile vs. a while

Awhile is an adverb meaning for a short time. A while is a noun meaning a period of time.

bad vs. badly

Bad is an adjective. Badly is an adverb. I feel bad is correct if you mean you feel sad, guilty, or in ill health. I feel badly is incorrect unless you mean your sense of touch is impaired.

That little boy is bad.

That little boy behaved badly.

beside vs. besides

Beside means next to. Besides means in addition to.

between vs. among

Between introduces two items; among introduces more than two.

bi- vs. semi-

Bi- means occurring every two. Semi- means occurring twice in a period of time.

biannual vs. biennial

Biannual means twice during the year; semiannual. Biennial means every other year.

breath vs. breadth

Breath means respiration. Breadth means width.

can vs. may

Can refers to ability. May refers to possibility or permission.

I can attend the meeting if necessary.

She may attend the meeting as long as she keeps quiet.

can’t hardly

Incorrect. Should be can hardly.

canvas vs. canvass

Canvas is a heavy, coarse fabric. Canvass is to solicit votes or opinions.

capital vs. capitol

Capital means financial assets or the city that is the seat of government. Capitol is the actual building in which a legislature meets.

censor vs. censure

Censor means to ban something considered objectionable (verb) or the person who does such banning (noun). Censure means to find fault with.

check up vs. checkup

Check up is a verb; checkup is a noun.

cite vs. site

Cite means to quote or to call to mind. Site means location.

climactic vs. climatic

Climactic refers to the point of greatest intensity. Climatic refers to weather conditions.

complacent vs. complaisant

Complacent means self- satisfied. Complaisant means marked by an inclination to please.

complement vs. compliment

Complement means to make complete. Compliment means to praise.

compose vs. comprise

Compose means to make whole by the combination of parts. Comprise means to include.

connote vs. denote

Connote means to imply or suggest indirectly. Denote means to serve as a mark of.

conscious vs. conscience

Conscious means being aware. Conscience means a sense of morality.

continual vs. continuous

Continual means repeatedly. Continuous means without interruption.

council vs. counsel

Council is a governing body. Counsel (noun) is advice or the lawyer or consultant giving it. Counsel (verb) is to give advice.

cover up vs. coverup

Cover up is a verb; coverup is a noun.

credible vs. creditable

Credible means believable. Creditable means worthy of praise or credit.

criterion vs. criteria

Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.

cut back vs. cutback

Cut back is a verb; cutback is a noun.

cut off vs. cutoff

Cut off is a verb; cutoff is a noun.

decent vs. descent

Decent means appropriate or proper. Descent means decline.

defective vs. deficient

Defective means faulty. Deficient means lacking or incomplete in some essential way.

definite vs. definitive

Both mean free from ambiguity, but definitive refers to something more authoritative and final.

deprecate vs. depreciate

Deprecate means to play down or make little of. Depreciate means to decline in value.

desert vs. dessert

Desert (noun) is an extremely arid land. Desert (verb) means to leave. Dessert is the final course of a meal.

device vs. devise

Device means technique or mechanism. Devise means to create.

different from vs. different than

Use different from unless what follows is a clause.

Her culture is different from ours.

Her culture is different than I expected.

disburse vs. disperse

Disburse means to pay out. Disperse means to scatter.

discreet vs. discrete

Discreet means tactful or prudent in behavior. Discrete means separate, distinct.

disc vs. disk

Both mean a thin, flat plate. Use disk when referring to computer-related items; use disc for everything else.

disinterested vs. uninterested

Disinterested means impartial. Uninterested means indifferent, having no interest.

dive, dived, diving

Past tense is dived, not dove.


Each, as a singular noun, takes a singular verb. It can also be used as an adjective.

Correct: Each of the products has its serial number. (Each – not products, which is the object of a prepositional phrase – is the subject of the sentence. Each is singular and therefore takes a singular verb.)

Incorrect: Each of the products have their serial number.

economic vs. economical

Economic means of or relating to economics. Economical means thrifty.


Latin abbreviation for for example. Avoid; write out for example instead. (If e.g. is used to introduce an example, however, it should be in italics, followed by a comma.)either/or, neither/nor Either goes with or; neither goes with nor.

Correct: Neither the radio nor the television is working.

Correct: I knew either the radio or the television was working.

Incorrect: Neither the radio or the television is working.

elicit vs. illicit

Elicit means to draw out or evoke. Illicit means not permitted.

eligible vs. illegible

Eligible means qualified to participate or be chosen. Illegible means unreadable.

eminent vs. imminent

Eminent means standing out, prominent. Imminent means ready to take place, impending.

enormity vs. enormousness

The preferred meaning of enormity is great wickedness or outrageous crime. Enormousness means of tremendous size.


The use of enthused is informal. Use enthusiastic.

entitled vs. titled

Entitled means having the right to do or have something. Titled means named.

envelop vs. envelope

Envelop means to surround. Envelope means a paper container for a letter.


Latin abbreviation for et cetera, meaning and so forth or and others. Should not be used with and (redundant) or when a list has already been introduced with for example or such as. Also, use only when it’s clear what the next item will be (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. One, two, three, etc.)

etc. vs. et al.

Use etc. to mean and other things. Use et al. (abbreviation for the Latin et alii meaning and others) to mean and other people. Italicize et al.

every day v. everyday

Every day is an adverb. Everyday is an adjective.

exceptionable vs. exceptional

Exceptionable means objectionable. Exceptional means rare or better than average.

explicit vs. implicit

Explicit means expressed directly. Implicit means implied.

farther vs. further

Farther means a longer physical distance. Further means to a greater extent.

fewer vs. less

Fewer is used for items that can be counted. Less is used for mass quantities or amounts that cannot be counted.

I cannot complete the project with fewer than six team members.

Our car uses less gas than the competing model.

first vs. firstly

Use first instead of firstly. The same goes for second, third, etc.

fiscal vs. monetary

Fiscal means of or relating to financial matters (including taxation and public revenues). Monetary means of or relating specifically to money.

flaunt vs. flout

Flaunt means to display showily. Flout means to disregard, scorn.

flounder vs. founder

Nouns: Flounder is a kind of fish. Founder is a person who originates something. Verbs: Flounder means to struggle ineffectually. Founder means to fail or collapse.

follow up vs. follow-up

Follow up is a verb. Follow-up is a noun.

forego vs. forgo

Forego means to go before. Forgo means to abstain from.

formerly vs. formally

Formerly means previously. Formally means according to form or custom.

fortuitous vs. fortunate

Fortuitous means happening by chance. Fortunate means happening favorably.

gamut vs. gantlet vs. gauntlet

Gamut means an entire range or series. Gantlet means a literal or figurative flogging. Technically, gauntlet means a glove. It is usually used in the phrase throw down or take up the gauntlet (throw down or take up a challenge).

garnish vs. garnishee

Garnish means to decorate or adorn. Garnishee means to take by legal authority.

gibe vs. jibe

Gibe means to utter taunting words. Jibe is a sailing term that means to shift forcefully from one side to the other. Informally, jibe means to be in agreement or harmony with.

good vs. well

Good is an adjective (good things) or a noun (do good in the community). Well is generally used as an adverb (Things are going well.) or a noun (in the well). Well can also be used to mean in good health (I feel well).

Correct: I feel good.

Correct: I feel well.

Incorrect: He performed good.

Correct: He performed well.

Correct: He gave a good performance.

historic vs. historical

Historic means having great and lasting importance. Historical means happening in the past.


Latin abbreviation for that is. Avoid; write out that is instead. (If i.e. is used to introduce an explanation, however, it should be in italics, followed by a comma.)

illegal vs. illicit

Illegal means prohibited by law. Illicit means prohibited by law or custom. (Illicit behavior is not necessarily illegal.)

impassable vs. impassible vs. impassive

Impassable means incapable of being passed or crossed. Impassible means incapable of feeling. Impassive means showing no sign of feeling or emotion.

imply vs. infer

Imply means to suggest without stating directly. Infer means to assume or conclude.

She implied in her statement that she had won.

He inferred from her statement that she had won.

in vs. into

Use in to indicate location. Use into to indicate movement.

He stayed in the house.

He went into the house.

indiscreet vs. indiscrete

Indiscreet means lacking in prudence or tact. Indiscrete means unable to be divided into parts.

ingenious vs. ingenuous

Ingenious means marked by cleverness and originality. Ingenuous means showing childlike or innocent simplicity and candor.

in regard to

Not in regards to.


Not inside of.


Not a word; use regardless or irrespective.

it’s vs. its

It’s is a contraction for it is. Its is a pronoun indicating possession (meaning belonging to it), just like his, hers, yours, and ours. Even the best writers inadvertently swap the two, so every time you use it’s or its, double check your meaning.

It’s going to take a long time to photocopy this whole packet.

The copy machine has a mind of its own.

judicial vs. judicious

Judicial means of or pertaining to the judicial (legal) branch of government. Judicious means characterized by sound judgment.

lay vs. lie

Lay means to place something on a surface. It must be followed by an object. Lie means to recline or rest on a surface. It does not take an object.

You can lay your coat on the bed.

You’ll feel better after you lie down for a while.

led vs. lead

Led is the past tense of to lead (which means to direct). Lead is the present tense of to lead.

liable vs. libel

Liable means responsible or likely. Libel means a defamatory statement.

lie vs. lay

like vs. as

Like means similar to. It is used with a noun or pronoun that is not followed by a verb. As means in the same way or manner. It is used before clauses, which contain verbs.

She looks like her mother.

He did as he said he would.

like vs. such as

Like introduces an item that is similar to something else. Such as introduces an item that is an actual example of that thing.

loath vs. loathe

Loath is an adjective that means unwilling. Loathe is a verb that means to detest.

mantel vs. mantle

A mantel is a shelf. A mantle is a coat or cloak.

may be vs. maybe

May be is a verb phrase. Maybe is an adverb meaning perhaps.

me vs. myself vs. I

Use I as the subject of a sentence; use me as an object.  Do not use myself as a replacement for either me or I. Myself should be used only as a reflexive pronoun – meaning the same person does and receives the action – or as an indication of emphasis.

I injured myself when I fell down the stairs (reflexive).

I myself will deliver the documents (to give emphasis).

moral vs. morale

Moral means of or relating to the principles of right or wrong. Morale means the mental and emotional condition of an individual or group.

naval vs. navel

Naval means of or relating to a navy. Navel means bellybutton or a type of seedless orange.

on vs. onto

On means supported by or in contact with. It implies a state of rest. Onto, in contrast, means movement to a position on. It implies movement up and on.

one of the only

Avoid using this phrase. What you mean is one of the few.


The position of only in a sentence frequently determines the meaning of the entire sentence. Notice the change in the meaning of the sentence when only takes various positions, emphasizing different elements of the sentence:

Only she told me that she saw him. (Nobody else told me.)

She only told me that she saw him. (She may not have told the truth.)

She told only me that she saw him. (She told no one but me.)

She told me only that she saw him. (She didn’t tell me anything else.)

She told me that only she saw him. (Nobody else saw him.)

She told me that she only saw him. (She didn’t hear him or talk to him.)

She told me that she saw only him. (She didn’t see anyone else.)

overdo vs. overdue

Overdo means to do too much. Overdue means late.

passed vs. past

Passed is the past tense of to pass. Past means having occurred in a time before the present.

peak vs. peek vs. pique

Peak means the highest point. Peek means to steel a glance at. Pique means to arouse a person’s feelings, usually in anger or resentment.

percent vs. percentage

Percent means per hundred and is usually used in place of the % symbol. Percentage means a more general portion or part of a whole.

persecute vs. prosecute

Persecute means to harass or hunt down. Prosecute means to bring legal action against.

perspective vs. prospective

Perspective means angle of vision or point of view. Prospective means likely to come about.

personal vs. personnel

Personal means individual, private. Personnel means a group of people employed by an organization.

phenomenon vs. phenomena

Phenomenon is the singular form of the word meaning either an observable thing or a rare and significant fact or event. Phenomena is the plural form.

practicable vs. practical

Practicable means feasible or possible. Practical refers to something that is both possible and useful.

precede vs. proceed

Precede means to come before. Proceed means to go forward or continue.

premier vs. premiere

Premier is an adjective meaning first in rank or quality. Premiere is a noun meaning a first public performance or exhibition.

prescribe vs. proscribe

Prescribe means to dictate or lay down as a guide (used in reference to medical prescriptions or therapy). Proscribe means to prohibit.

principal vs. principle

Principal means most important (adjective) or person in a leading position of authority (noun). Principle means a basic truth or rule.

prove, proved, proving vs. proven

Prove, proved, and proving are forms of the verb to prove. Use proven only as adjective.

pseudo- vs. quasi-

Pseudo- means false or counterfeit. Quasi- means somewhat or partial.

quid pro quo

Latin for one thing for another. Usually used in a legal context. Place in italics.

raise vs. rise

Raise means to elevate or to pick something up. It must be followed by an object. Rise means to move from a lower to a higher position. It can also mean to increase in amount or value. It does not take an object.

She can raise her head slightly and eat solid food

I am sure she will rise quickly in the company.

reason, used with because

The use of the word reason with the word because does not make sense. Reason already implies causation.

Incorrect: The reason she was fired is because she was late all the time.


Correct: The reason she was fired is that she was late all the time.

Correct: She was fired because she was late all the time.


not irregardless

respectfully vs. respectively

Respectfully means with respect. Respectively means individually.

respective vs. respectively

Respective is an adjective that means pertaining to two or more things separately. Respectively is the adverb form of respective. It means separately, in the order designated.

seasonable vs. seasonal

Seasonable means suitable to the season or circumstances. Seasonal means varying in occurrence according to the season.


Twice a year; same as biannual.

set vs. sit

Set means to put or place somewhere. It is almost always followed by an object. Its past tense is also set. Sit means to be seated or located. It does not take an object. Its past tense is sat.

You can set the papers on the chair for now. Would you like to sit on the sofa or in the chair? She sat on the board for almost 10 years.

set up vs. setup

Set up is a verb. Setup is a noun or an adjective.

should vs. will

Should means ought to and implies a belief. Will is a prediction.

some time vs. sometime vs. sometimes

Some time means a period of time. Sometime means an unknown or unspecified time. Sometimes means occasionally.

It will be some time before she arrives.

She will arrive sometime tonight.

She sometimes stops by in the evening.

stanch vs. staunch

Stanch means to stop the flow of. Staunch means strongly built or steadfast.

stationary vs. stationery

Stationary means not moving. Stationery is a type of writing paper.

suit vs. suite

A suit is a set of clothes. A suite is a group of things, such as software, pieces of furniture, musical movements, or rooms.

take over vs. takeover

Take over is a verb. Takeover is a noun or an adjective.

telecast vs. televise

Telecast is a noun meaning a TV broadcast. Televise is a verb.

than vs. then

Than means in comparison to. Then means at that time or soon afterward.

He is a faster typist than I am. Learn to type correctly, and then concentrate on speed.

that vs. which vs. who

Which refers to things, and who refers to people. That can refer to people or things, but use that sparingly when referring to people. Use who instead.

In introducing a nonessential clause, which should be used only to begin a description that could be deleted without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Yesterday’s board meeting, which started at 3 p.m., ran for two hours.

Which started at 3 p.m. is a phrase that is not essential to the sentence’s main meaning. Yesterday’s board meeting ran for two hours makes sense on its own. Nonessential material is usually set off by commas. Therefore, if you would pause at the beginning and end of a phrase when speaking, you probably have a case for which.

That is used for essential material. Without essential material, the sentence would change its meaning – or make no sense at all.

The company that makes the chips we use filed for bankruptcy.

Take out that makes the chips we use and you’re left with, The company filed for bankruptcy. What company? And why is it relevant? This is a case for that.

their vs. there vs. they’re

Their is the possessive form of they (meaning belonging to them). There means at that place. They’re is a conjunction meaning they are.

I looked over their proposal and was unimpressed.

I put the proposal over there.

They’re presenting the proposal tomorrow.

this vs. that

This refers to something close by or present. That refers to something that has already been pointed out. If two things have already been mentioned, this refers to the one that is closer in time or place.

I like this one better than that one.

He said she was the best employee. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

threw vs. through

Threw is the past tense of throw. Through means via or across. Thru is not a word.

to vs. too vs. two

To means toward or until. Too means also. Two means 2.

trade in vs. trade-in

Trade in is a verb. Trade-in is a noun or an adjective.

trade off vs. trade-off

Trade off is a verb. Trade-off is a noun or an adjective.

try and

Incorrect; use try to.

undo vs. undue

Undo means to reverse. Undue means inappropriate or excessive.


Latin abbreviation for namely. Avoid; write out namely.

wait for vs. wait on

Use wait on only when referring to hospitality or service (e.g., waiting on tables). Otherwise, use wait for.


Do not hyphenate a modifier that includes the word well when it comes after the word it modifies. Hyphenate when it precedes the word.

Her efforts were well intentioned.

Her well-intentioned efforts were ignored.


used with at or as a substitute for that Where used with at is grammatically incorrect.

Incorrect: Where is the firm’s headquarters located at?

Correct: Where is the firm’s headquarters?

Where as a substitute for that is also incorrect.

Incorrect: I saw on television where they arrested the robber.

Correct: I saw on television that they arrested the robber.

who vs. whom

The distinction between who and whom is one of the most confusing in all of grammar. Technically, who is the subjective form of the pronoun, while whom is objective.

When deciding whether to use who or whom, determine where the action is. If who is doing the action, use who. (Ellen, who reports to Joan, came to our meeting.) If the action is being received or if the word is an object of a preposition, use whom. (I don’t know whom I should choose. Joan, to whom Ellen reports, came to our meeting.)

Correct: Ellen is the person to whom I report.

Incorrect: Ellen is the person who I report to.

Some grammarians now accept the use of who whenever it comes at the beginning of a sentence. (Who did you visit? Instead of Whom did you visit?)

whose vs. who’s

Whose means belonging to whom. Who’s is a contraction meaning who is.

Whose desk is that?

Who’s going to sit at that desk?

with regard to

Not with regards to.

your vs. you’re

Your is the possessive form of you (meaning belonging to you). You’re is a contraction meaning you are.

Don’t lose your briefcase, which you’re about to drop.


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