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10 Commonly Misused, Confused Words: Wrong Verb Usage and More Incorrect Grammar

I have a Master of Arts in English and have taught English Composition off and on part-time for my local community college.

Let's explore some commonly misused and misspoken words!

Let's explore some commonly misused and misspoken words!

Ten Often Misspoken Words

As an English major, hearing words used incorrectly drives me crazy. I'm not really a grammar snob, as I do realize that grammar isn’t everyone’s thing—and far from it, actually! I admit that I'm the weird one, also known as "Grammar Geek," my self-proclaimed name.

I’ve put together ten of the most misused words that I hear on a frequent basis. It is my hope that this little grammar lesson will be helpful to many.

Let’s start with the verb tenses that are commonly used incorrectly.

Yes, people, please do try to use grammar whenever you can.

Yes, people, please do try to use grammar whenever you can.

Incorrect Verb Usage

1. Was vs. Were

Was matches a singular subject, such as I, he, she, or it. Were matches a plural subject, such as we or they. Just remember that since “you” can be singular or plural, it takes the plural verb.


I was planning to go to the concert this weekend.

You were? (Not “You was?”) Saying “You was?” is to me like hearing fingernails scraping across a blackboard.

Review: I was, he was, she was, it was, you were, we were, they were

2. Doesn’t vs. Don’t

“Doesn’t” goes with a singular subject, as explained above, as "don’t” goes with a plural subject. However, as is true in English, there are exceptions, as “I” goes with “don’t” instead of “doesn’t,” even though "I" is singular. But I’ve never heard anybody say, “I doesn’t,” anyway.

Sadly, the entertainment world pounds the wrong verb tense into our heads. Consider country singer, Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress me Much.” The grammatically correct title should be, “That Doesn’t Impress me Much.” Of course, that’s a lot of words to get into the song as that line is phrased. I’m sure there are many more examples of the entertainment world using these verbs incorrectly.

I hear “He don’t” and “She don’t” all the time. To many people, the word “doesn’t” doesn’t (haha) exist.

Correct Example: He doesn’t want to go, does he? Do we care? No, we don’t.

Review: I don’t, he doesn’t, she doesn’t, it doesn’t, you don’t, we don’t, they don’t

3. Saw vs. Seen

Saw is simply a past tense verb for ALL subjects, while seen is a participle. To put it simply, ALWAYS use “saw” in past tense. “Seen” is only used with “have,” “has,” or “had.”

I cringe when I hear “I seen it” or “We seen it” or that anybody “seen it.”

Correct Example: I saw the stock market report yesterday. Have you seen it?

Review: I saw, he saw, she saw, it saw, you saw, we saw, they saw…

Then there’s I have seen, he has seen, she has seen, you have seen, we have seen, they have seen.

With had, all would have the same form: I had seen, he had seen, she had seen, you had seen, we had seen, they had seen.

Can you tell I’m using repetition to drive home the lesson? Yes, I am! Maybe it will help to drive home the point.

4. Went vs. Gone

I also cringe when I hear “I had went.” Really? Where do people hear that? This one is just like saw and seen, a case of simple past tense and past participle.

Correct Example: I went there yesterday; have you gone there before? Had they ever been there?

Review: I went, she went, he went, you went, we went, they went

Plus: I have gone, he has gone, she has gone, we have gone, they have gone.

With had: Just put in the place of have or has with every subject.

Misused and Confused Verbs

Now for some more verbs whose meanings get confused . . .

5. Imply vs. Infer

I hear these words mixed up a lot. “Imply” is stemming from the speaker as in:

“I didn’t mean to imply that you’re doing a bad job.”

Infer is something that the listener does:

“From what he said, I inferred that he thinks I’m doing a bad job."

6. Peruse vs. Skim

These are other words that are confused. Actually, some people think they mean the same thing, while they actually mean the opposite of each other. Peruse is a word that actually means to really look into something, while skim means to just scan something over quickly. I often hear people say that they’ll “peruse” something when actually they’re planning on skimming it.

Finally, some miscellaneous confused words:

Even on food labels, we see "less calories" when it's actually "fewer" calories. If we can count an item, it's "fewer," as in "10 Items or Fewer."

Even on food labels, we see "less calories" when it's actually "fewer" calories. If we can count an item, it's "fewer," as in "10 Items or Fewer."

Miscellaneous Confused Words

7. Farther vs. Further

There’s an easy way to remember this one. Use farther when you are talking about distance. Think about it this way: “farther” can be broken down to “far,” which measures distance. “Further” relates to going into more depth—not physical distance.

Correct examples:

How much farther do you want to go down this road? (physically measurable)

Do you want to further explore this subject?

8. Me vs. Myself

Me is an object, while myself is a reflexive pronoun. Most of the time, you will use “me” over “myself.
Here’s something I hear that’s incorrect: “Have them contact the instructor or myself.” No—that is wrong. A good way to check it is to leave out the other object—instructor in this case. “Have them contact myself.” Does that make sense? No, it should be, “Have them contact me.”

Use me for an object of the verb. Example: "He hit me." "The teacher spoke to Herman and me." Only use myself if it is reflexive, that is, repeating the subject. For example, “I did it myself.” Myself reflects "I."

9. Lose v. Loose

This is just one to memorize if you have trouble with this one.

Lose is used in sentences such as “I need to lose weight.”

Loose is used in sentences as in “I have a lot of loose ends to tie up.” “Loose” rhymes with “moose.”

And remember that a person is “loser,” not a “loose,” which would rhyme with “mooser,” and who says that?

10. Irregardless vs. Regardless

This one is easy, since “irregardless” isn’t even a word. So, never, never, never, use irregardless. ALWAYS use “regardless.”

Incorrect Example: “Irregardless of what he thinks, I’m not going to do what he wants.”

Correct Example: “Regardless of what he thinks, I’m not going to do what he wants.”

Hey, I know you’re thinking that’s enough grammar for one sitting. I agree. Stay tuned for more, though!

Questions & Answers

Question: What about the correct use of being and been, are these also commonly misused words?

Answer: "Being" and "been" aren't words that are often confused. "Being" is used in sentences such as "Mike is being nice to his little sister." "Been" is used with a past participle such as in "Mike has been nice to his little sister lately." Replacing one of those words with the other one wouldn't make sense.


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 08, 2020:

Awesome, ccarter! Please do!!

ccarter1 on February 18, 2019:

Thanks SO MUCH for this. Now instead of correcting people on Facebook, I can just post a link to your page. ;-)

Ahadu F. on January 25, 2018:

The words are spectacular and awesome

Jules on December 04, 2017:

Am I the only one bothered by TV journalists who say 'take a listen', thereby changing a verb to a noun? Is this acceptable now?

Paul Dutton on April 19, 2017:

I cringe when I hear people inviting anybody to "enjoy". Surely, the verb "enjoy" is a transitive verb and therefore should be attached to the noun or phrase to which it refers, for example "Enjoy your meal" or "Relax and enjoy your holiday."

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 28, 2012:

Thanks, CC! Glad you liked it. I need to link your misused words to mine, too! Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on October 28, 2012:

Loved this one, sis. Linking to it and tweeted. ;)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 21, 2012:

jan mariam--Thank you for the input. I do hope it was helpful.

jan mariam on October 21, 2012:

Thanks for an esay explanation and add another example of more words using on everyday life more power to all of you

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 30, 2012:

Kathleen--I think we all have our words that confuse us!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on August 29, 2012:

choose, chose

I have to stop and think about it every time!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on July 12, 2012:

Thanks, LadyFiddler. I appreciate that comment!

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on July 11, 2012:

INTERESTING Hub Victoria :)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on June 20, 2012:

Phil--I agree! I hope that those who need the grammar hubs are reading them. Glad you stopped by!:-)

Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on June 20, 2012:

Yep, there are certainly a number of grammatical errors that people make. I'm glad you post hubs like these; I only hope that the people who could benefit from reading them are reading them.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on February 03, 2012:

ccitgirl--I agree about the "myself" thing. I hear it way too often, and it drives me crazy. Thanks for the comments!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 02, 2012:

The "myself" thing drives me particularly crazy. I hear it all the time and I think, "geez, what DID you learn in school?" :) Voted up.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 12, 2012:

amymarie--So glad this is helpful! I love helping people out with grammar. Thanks for the share, and the votes, too!

Amy DeMarco from Chicago on January 12, 2012:

Thank you for writing this! Some of the more obvious ones annoy me as well, however, others are mistakes I even make. As a writer, I find this to be extremely helpful. I have added to my favorites and shared with my followers.

Rated up, awesome and useful.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 18, 2011:

Awesome, lyricwriter! Glad you got something out of the article. It's always good to brush up! Later!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on October 17, 2011:

Victoria, this is very useful information that you have wrote here. Personally, I do care about this and I want to sound professional and proper, despite the fact that I am from West Virginia and i caan't spel. Joking of But seriously, very educational article. As we grow older, we tend to forget all our grammer lessons from school. It is nice to get a fresh look at this material. Voted up, useful, and interesting. See you later gator.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 03, 2011:

Thanks, epi! I plan to write some more grammar hubs. I do love language, including grammar, something many people find boring. I find it fascinating and hope to share some good tips that will be helpful to many. Thanks for your comments, as always!

epigramman on October 03, 2011:

..well you are not only an English major but a major writer who has all of us thinking - and that's a good thing because we can all learn to improve our writing skills with the right kind of attitude and open mind in which you have .....thanks for the enlightenment - it's always good to learn something new each day.

lake erie time ontario canada 9:55am

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 02, 2011:

Cutters and Jennifer--I'm actually saving to and too for my next grammar lesson. For this one, I only used words that are misspoken, those that you can hear the difference. The next one is going to be on words that sound the same but are spelled differently, so to and too will fit in perfectly! Stay tuned....:-)

Thanks, Jeremiah! I appreciate your reading and commenting!

Jeremiah Walton from New England on October 01, 2011:

Farther vs. Further I never thought about. Good hub!

Jennifer on October 01, 2011:

forgot the biggie- too vs. to!

Cutters from South Carolina on October 01, 2011:

I sometimes get confused with the to and too it tricks me up a lot!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 01, 2011:

I believe that of you, Sunshine. :-)That's a great quality!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 01, 2011:

Yep, I could always find humor...even in embarassing situations :-))

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 01, 2011:

haha. Cell phones need to proofread. That's funny, sunshine!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 01, 2011:

Nope, it was me BUT the phone has changed a few words and some were quite embarrassing! Haha!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 01, 2011:

Hey, Sunshine, couldn't the phone have chosen "choose" instead of you doing it? Those phones can be pesky creatures. :-)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 01, 2011:

I sent a text yesterday and I used choose instead of choice!! Ugh!! :))

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 01, 2011:

Thanks to all for appreciating this grammar hub. And yes, I do plan on doing more of these. MemphisYankee--I misused peruse and skim, too, until several years ago. That one is a common error. Peaktime--good one! I haven't thought about that one in a while. Captain Redbeard--hey, any suggestions for what you want in the next grammar hub is welcome! I can do more on tenses of verbs, certainly. I have some ideas. Glad this was helpful.

Cloverleaf--I appreciate anybody who says that reading about grammar is a fun read--thank you!!!!

elucidiator--I love your "moosen in the woodisen" comment. Glad the hub was helpful!

elucidator from SoCal on October 01, 2011:

Victoria, look forward to following your hub and the grammar helps. Excellent hub. I struggle with grammar and need all the help I can get! I can relate to comedian Brian Regan when it comes to grammar, "many, much, moosen in the woodisen"

Louise Fiolek from Calgary, AB, Canada on September 30, 2011:

Hi Victoria Lynn, this was a very fun read! The english language can be quite confusing sometimes. I'm glad you cleared these up! :-)

Captain Redbeard from Ohio on September 30, 2011:

THANK YOU!! I dropped out of high school when I was young and stupid and though I went and got my G.E.D. I still have no idea what proper grammer is. I has aspirations of being a writer but often find it hard to know if I am making sense when I write! lol Anyways. Awesome hub, are you going to do a part two? Like maybe proper use of words like, written vs. wrote?

peaktime from California on September 29, 2011:

love this post. my grammar pet peeve (which i am totally guilty of by the way) is hopefully. "hopefully, we will go to the store soon." eek!

Phoebe Lee from Tennessee on September 29, 2011:

This is great! Unfortunately, I've been guilty of the peruse v. skim offense. Thanks!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 28, 2011:

cheaptrick--You are so funny! I'm sure that some people, especially your ex, can be a "looser." haha

Glad it helps, Movie Master!

Sunshine--I'll surely send you a message if I see one of these errors in your hubs--only since you've asked for it, though! You write great hubs. I'll surely point out anything I see that you would want to know about, though. Thanks for reading!

Sang Hue--You're welcome. I'll always take the time for grammar! :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 28, 2011:

Wow, I'm so pleased that this hub has taken off.... Of course, as writers, it's good so many appreciate grammar. haha.

Chasuk, asmaiftkhar--glad you found it useful and fascinating. I love that.

weestro--Thanks for the vote up! Much appreciated.

makurs--lovely what you said about Robert Frost. Groovy!

Sang Hue on September 28, 2011:

I've learned a lot from you, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.Sang Hue

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 28, 2011:

Saw & seen and lose & loose ... I need to pause and think with those sets of words! I'd like to throw in choice & choose! Fantastic hub Victoria, I needed to unload that info with someone! If you ever catch a typo with these words on my hubs just give me a holla! Thank you :))

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 28, 2011:

Hi Victoria, these 10 words are confusing, especially 'lose' and 'loose'

Thank you for sharing, very useful!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on September 28, 2011:

Keep up the good work Grammar Geek. I think a lot of bite-size grammar lessons are very helpful, especially for people who speak English as a second language. By the way, the one thing that drives me crazy (a little bit anyway) is "these ones" instead of just saying, "these."

Pete Fanning from Virginia on September 28, 2011:

Will definitely bookmark this one, voted up.

cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on September 28, 2011:

You is pretty good at this!

There is one example of loose that can be applied to a specific my EX GF...believe me,she was not a loser...she was a looser,as loose as one could get!Ha!

Great hub,voted Up and I is gonna follow along wit your lessons lol


PS:I'm is a good talker some's of the time...just not on this particulus day time...Hmmm

Manoj Kumar Srivastava from India on September 28, 2011:

Victoria Lynn,

It is the software which we find as word-processors that have done the damage. You are poked at every mistake with the options to correct. Learning part is absent. Nevertheless, Words do not make a Robert Frost. It is Robert Frost who makes the word. Useful!

Lots of Love,


asmaiftikhar from Pakistan on September 28, 2011:

a very useful hub .keep it up!

Chasuk on September 27, 2011:

@Victoria Lynn: i likewise find it fascinating.

Great hub!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Okay, I'm going to guess that newday's comment of "you poor bastards" refers to our even caring about grammar. Is that correct? To each our own, I guess.

Chasuk--you are correct. But the rule is that a collective noun (full of plural people) is singular, as in "the group." It would use a singular verb.

However, a group that is divided might use the plural verb if they are not acting as a singular subject.

Example: The team was all in agreement.

The team were arguing different perspectives.

It can be complicated, as the English language is. I find it fascinating.

Chasuk on September 27, 2011:

@newday98033: To use some of your own words, language is an immensely complex system of many parts. Some of us enjoy understanding how these parts best fit together to foster more effective communication.

Chasuk on September 27, 2011:

The tricky was/were usage pertains to groups, and sometimes argued.

"The group was rambunctious" is correct, which feels wrong to many who don't share our pedantism. :-)

newday98033 on September 27, 2011:

You poor bastards.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Vinaya--glad it's helpful. I'll be writing more grammar hubs. And thanks for sharing this with others. I appreciate you.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Vinaya--glad it's helpful. I'll be writing more grammar hubs. And thanks for sharing this with others. I appreciate you.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 27, 2011:

As a non-native English user, I usually struggle with the language. Thanks for this useful article. I'll often come back to this hub for reference. And I'm sharing this on every social media I'm associated with.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

missolive--oh, my gosh! the "text slang" must be maddening. That didn't used to be a problem.

Jenna--so glad it was helpful. Thanks!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Thanks for commenting, Lara! I really appreciate that! I'm going to be writing more grammar hubs. Thanks so much, friend!

Jenna Pope from Southern California on September 27, 2011:

Great Hub! I'm going to use it to check the words that confuse me in my writing!

Lara Sandusky on September 27, 2011:

I am keeping this to use as a reference. Good job!

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on September 27, 2011:

Lose and loose - irks me! lol

These and this

Grading 7th grade essays on a daily basis can be a bit daunting. Students insist on using "text slang" on assignments. ggggrrrrr

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Cutters, thanks. I plan to write more hubs about grammar. It really is something I love.

pmiles..interesting comment. I do see what you mean. Thanks for stopping by!

pmiles from North Carolina on September 27, 2011:

Great hub. I hate the "seen" thing -- it sounds trashy to me.

Cutters from South Carolina on September 27, 2011:

Thanks Now I have a source I can check on. I see some people use alot when it is supposed to be a lot. Silly humans tricks are for kids.