Saturday, February 17, 2024

Tips to Avoid Three Common Usage Errors

Tips to Avoid Three Common Usage Errors

How to choose between:
Fewer? or Less? * Who? or Whom? 
* Bad? or Badly?

Fewer? or Less?

If you mean “not as many,” choose fewer

(Use fewer when items can be counted.)

If you mean “not as much,” choose less.


I bought fewer pencils. 

I ate less pudding.

Who (Whoever)? or Whom (Whomever)?

Find the verb nearest the pronoun in question. If the pronoun appears before the verb, choose who or whoever. Who went to the store?

If the pronoun follows an action verb, choose whom or whomever. The leader will choose whomever you wish.

If the pronoun follows a linking verb, choose who or whoever. The winner will be whoever the people elect.

Whom or whomever always follows a preposition.

His friends, most of whom are older, are friendly people. 

Hint: Substitute he or she for the pronoun who. Substitute him, her, or them for the pronoun whom.

Bad? or Badly?

Badly describes an action. He danced badly. 

Bad describes a feeling or emotion. (I feel bad.)

Always use the word “bad” after linking verbs such as lookfeel, seemtaste, and smell

You look bad. 

I feel bad. 

His conduct seems bad to me. 

That meat tastes bad to me.

That perfume smells bad.

Note: Do not say or write I feel badly for you. (Although you hear this in the media and read it in printed material all the time, it is incorrect.)

If you feel badly, there is something wrong with your fingers. 

If you sympathize with someone, you feel bad for them.

It will become much easier to use these words correctly if you practice.

Thank you for reading. You will find more blog posts below from my friends in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. 

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