Typos are easy to make and even easier to overlook – tools such as autocorrect and spell checkers should never be relied upon. So what’s the best way to avoid such errors? You can edit and proofread all you like, but having a firm understanding of the language is the way forward – you can’t identify what you don’t know. With that in mind, here are some of the most common errors I come across:

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Complementary versus complimentary

Complementary is used when ‘completing a set or making whole’, whereas complimentary is used when something is free of charge or flattering someone. You could almost get away with this one but the way to remember it, is the use of the ‘I’ in compliment which refers to oneself – who doesn’t like to receive compliments and get freebies!

Its versus It’s

Apparently this is the number one grammatical error in English. When shortening the phrase ‘It is’ or ‘It has’, an apostrophe is used, otherwise that little mark can be left out

A lot versus alot

The latter is just plain incorrect and it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Affect versus effect

One is a noun and the other should be used as a verb. But which is which? Affect should be used as a verb, for example: the weather affected the event. Compare this with: the effect of the weather on the event was catastrophic.

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Advise versus advice

Similar to the above, advise should be used as a verb whereas advice is a noun. In this instance, there is also a pronunciation difference, with the verb sounding like it has a Z in it.

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Karen Osman is the Managing Director of Travel Ink, a company which offers content writing and translation services covering industries such as travel, tourism, and hospitality.