A brief post by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff at Book View Cafe: What’s in a Word: a Writer’s Rant
Anybody got a guess about the near-homonyms she might have in mind? It’s not a pair of actual homonyms. Chronic and pervasive misuse, remember.
I will add, not the obvious its/it’s; two/too/to; they’re/there/their. Those are in a category all their own. Something else, not those. For the purposes of this post, these don’t count. Also, they’re true homonyms, and this isn’t.
The most common near-homonym mistake I see, by a HUGE margin, is Effect/Affect. Nothing else comes close. Definitely nothing else comes close in actual published books. I had to resolve this confusion way back when I was writing my master’s thesis. Ever since then, I’ve never made a mistake with these two words AND I’ve been extremely, possibly excessively, sensitive to effect/affect mistakes. This is one that leaps off the page for me.
Next one for me is probably Accept/Except. I think I see that one enough to call it at least moderately chronic and pervasive.
The one Bohnhoff points out isn’t either of those. Want to guess?
Her pet peeve for this post is tenet/tenant.
I’m trying to remember whether I’ve ever seen those words mistaken for each other. I probably have? But I wouldn’t have thought of those. What do you all think? Have you seen this mistake? Enough to call it chronic and pervasive misuse of the words? I’m quite curious. Now that my attention has been drawn to this mistake, maybe it will start jumping out at me.
But probably never to the same extent of Effect/Affect.