Wrong Word

If I write “WW” in the margin of your paper or above a word, check a dictionary. If you use a thesaurus, use a dictionary too; a thesaurus gives near, but not exact, equivalents.

Frequently confused or misused words

affect and effect

  • to effect = to bring about, to make happen
  • an effect = a consequence
  • to affect = to change, to influence
  • an affect = a feeling

dependent and dependant

Dependent is an adjective. Dependant is a noun. Examples:

  • Children are dependent on their parents.
  • By Canadian tax law, the higher-income parent may claim child-care expenses for each dependant.
  • King Lear has 100 dependent knights in his train.
  • King Lear has 100 dependants until Goneril tells him to cut back his train a little.


“Hopefully” is a widely misused adverb that should be used in academic writing only to modify a verb.

  • Wrong: Hopefully, the cat will catch that elusive mouse soon.
  • Right: The cat sprang hopefully at the fleeing mouse.

to realize and to recognize

to realize = to fulfil, to bring about, to make happen, to bring something to pass

to recognize = to become aware of something, to understand, to acknowledge

disinterested and uninterested

disinterested = unbiased, detached
uninterested = without curiosity

 That versus Which