The English language is confusing. For seemingly every rule, you’ll find five exceptions. Countless words have other words that sound the same or are spelled the same but have completely different meanings. Below I outline just six of the many sets of words that are more often than not used incorrectly.
Further vs. Farther
The word farther is only used to express greater distance. For example, I walked farther into the woods. Further is used for everything else.
Fewer vs. Less
Fewer is used when individual items can be counted while less is used for abstract things. For example, I have fewer than ten items in my grocery cart.
Literally vs. Figuratively
The word literally means something actually, absolutely happened. You would not literally die if your ex walked into your wedding; you would figuratively die.
Jealous vs. Envious
Envy is the reaction to lacking something you never had to begin with. Jealousy is the reaction to the threat of losing something. You are not jealous because your friend has a new car and you don’t; you are envious.
Who vs. Whom
Who is a subject, and whom is an object. When in doubt, mentally replace with either he or him. If he works, the correct word is who. If him works, the correct word is whom.
I vs. Me
Just like who vs. whom, I is a subject while me is an object. Often times, the confusion comes in when the personal pronoun is used in a compound subject. In that scenario, remove the other subject, and you’ll be left with the right word. For example, my boss and I are going to a convention (I am going to a convention). Or…you’ll be interviewing with my boss and me (You’ll be interviewing with me.)