Way With Words – Part 5

Hello again! Last time on Way With Words, we looked at Round and Around, Program and Programme, While and Whilst, Enquire and Inquire, and Spelled and Spelt. We’re back out of Brit-only territory this week, and into more easy mix-ups…


Affect and Effect

When the government effects these new laws, we don’t know how it will affect us. We don’t know what the effect will be.

Affect is a verb, except when it’s a noun. Effect is a noun, except when it’s a verb. Good luck!

…Okay, okay. Here’s a clearer way of looking at it: you can effect something when the alternative would be saying something like ‘implement’, or put it into effect. You can effect change (and effect-as-a-verb doesn’t tend to come up in many other contexts), but you can’t effect Jonathan.

Affect as a noun is rarer still, and comes from ‘affectation’, which means something like ‘demeanour’: He adopted a positive affect. He affected an American accent for two hours straight, then dropped it.

But don’t worry too much about the above… just remember that it’s most common to use affect as a verb – “The dog affected my asthma” – and effect as a noun – “The dog had an effect on me”.


All right and Alright

Although it’s already almost 10, the trains are still running. See? It’s always all right.

Thanks to words like although, already, almost and always, it’s altogether too easy to assume that alright is a valid spelling. It is picking up popularity in the UK, but it’s not yet standard anywhere.


It’s and Its

It’s a dog, and its collar is pink.

It’s is a shorter version of it is, and its is for something that belongs to it. This is another case where, like whose and who’s, people assume the apostrophe is for possession. However, just like with whose, theirs, his and hers, its doesn’t need an apostrophe.


To and Too

I’m getting the train to London on Saturday, too. I’m hoping the tickets won’t cost too much.

If you could replace it with ‘as well’, or if it means ‘more than enough’, or it’s ‘too much’, you need too. For everything else, to is correct.


Bare and Bear

Oh, I can barely bear this.

To bare something is to reveal it, to bear something is to tolerate it. To barely do something is to only-just-about do it. If you ask someone to bear with me, you’re asking them to tolerate something for a while. If you ask them to bare with you, you might get a shock when they start disrobing.


Hopefully, these quick grammar tips will set you on your way to easier, more professional transcription. In our next post, we’ll be looking at Your and You’re, Their, They’re and ThereLoose and Lose, OK and Okay, and Transcriptionist and Transcriber. Until then, happy typing!

These grammar tips are all things our UK transcribers have picked up over the years while transcribing a wide range of media. Interested in more? Check out Quick Tips 1, Quick Tips 2, Quick Tips 3Quick Tips 4 and Quick Tips 6!

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