Misused Words: Did I Just Say That?!

man grimacing

I commented recently to a writer/editor friend that I have long considered there’s the most misused word in the English language. She gave me a puzzled look, as if to disagree but lacking evidence.

I could fill this page — or maybe a book! — with examples. Consider this sampling from weather forecasters to legislators, from financial specialists to everyday people.

“There’s not many structures in front of the storm if it goes where we think it’s going.”

“There’s ads flooding the airways.”

”My first day, it gets signed, O.K.? There’s no more gun-free zones.”

“There’s a lot of investments on all fronts for improving the technology above and beyond that.”

“I think there’s enough legislators with education as their top priority that we will continue to move forward and seek additional funding.”

“There’s many ideas we have for getting legislation passed.”

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about annuities.”

“And then there’s the hotels, plus there’s going to be dinners.”

In each quotation, there’s should be there are.

Granted, some speakers or writers quoted are less educated than others, but this is basic grammar: the singular there is vs. the plural there are. Don’t we all know that singular indicates one and plural indicates more than one?

My upcoming book, Grammar for People Who Hate Rules, includes a quiz on other frequently misused words. Test yourself with these samples:

  1. affect / effect
    Today’s storm will affect/effect air traffic, but it should not have an affect/effect on tomorrow’s flights.
  2. eager / anxious
    I’m anxious/eager about my performance review, but I’m anxious/eager to have it behind me.
  3. ensure / insure
    To ensure/insure that you can call a doctor when your children are ill, we will ensure/insure your entire family.
  4. farther / further
    The farther/further they walked, the farther/further engrossed they became in conversation.
  5. fewer / less
    Fewer/Less people signed up for the event than we had expected, so we’ll need fewer/less food.
  6. its / it’s
    Its/It’s up to you, but I hope you’ll leave the key in its/it’s usual place.

Check here for the correct answers.

And watch this space for news about Grammar For People Who Hate Rules. It is in the final formatting stage, and I hope it will be available on Amazon soon.

Whether you’re a student, a writer, a speaker, in business, or just someone who cares about communicating clearly every day, my collection of Killer Tips and examples will remind you of what you’ve forgotten from English class and show you today’s standard usage.

“The Ruthless Editor’s Grammar for People Who Hate Rules is designed to instruct, explain and encourage the reader with a series of easy-to-follow lessons. I highly recommend this informative book!”
— Kathleen M. Galvin, Professor, Communication Studies, Northwestern University

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)