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Usage Mnemonics

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Usage Mnemonics

Memory Aid

Everybody struggles with words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. Using the wrong word can be embarrassing, as Mayor Daley of Chicago found out when he referred to two-person bikes as "tantrum bicycles" (rather than "tandem bicycles").

One of the best ways to avoid using the wrong word is to think of a memory aid (mnemonic device) for recognizing the difference.

  • Accept means "receive" or "approve," and it has two c's like open arms reaching for a hug.
  • Except means "not" or "exclude," and there is an x in front of the open arms of the c, showing that the hug is denied.

Your Turn For each pair of commonly confused words, write a definition followed by a mnemonic that will help you remember which word is which:

  1. bring/take
  2. can/may
  3. coarse/course
  4. desert/dessert
  5. past/passed
  6. set/sit
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From 565 in Write for College

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