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Tip 10: Commonly Misused Words – Part Two

What words and expressions are you misusing?

Aggravate: means “to add to” an already troublesome matter or condition.

Irritate: means “to annoy.” E.g., Jeff, please do not aggravate the situation by irritating Tom—again.

And/Or: is a shortcut that damages a sentence and can lead to confusion or ambiguity. Avoid using it. Please.

Anticipate: should be replaced with the word “expect” in the sense of simple expectation. ‘Anticipate’ can sound pretentious.

As to whether: can be shorted to just the word “whether.”

Fortuitous: means “limited to what happens by chance.” Do not use it to mean fortunate or lucky.

Fixin’ to: is the Texas way of saying that you are “about to do something.” Neither Strunk nor White mentioned it


From Chapter IV of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, fourth edition