Here are some of the words which are frequently misused:
Potent / Potential
All / All of
All is used for amount, quantity, distance, and length of time.
e.g. all the money, all the way, all day, all night,
All of is used when a simple pronoun follows.
e.g. all of it, all of you, all of us.
All and all of may be used when it refers to number.
e.g. All or all of the employees are satisfied with the new policy.e.g. All or all of the children in the family have gone to college
Potent / Potential
Potent: strong, powerful; potential: power that could be, but is not yet.
e.g. He is a potent politician.
e.g. He has great potential in American politics.
Right / Rightly
Right: immediately; rightly: justly, correctly.
e.g. Do it right now.
e.g. Do it right away.
e.g. I rightly canceled the trip.
e.g. We refused the offer, and rightly so.
Sensual / Sensuous
Sensual: related to the body; sensuous: related to the five senses.
e.g. It is difficult to be spiritual when one focuses too much on sensual pleasures.
e.g. The painter is able to provide some sensuous images in his painting.
Defer / Infer
Defer: give way or yield to; infer: conclude.
e.g. He is a good kid: he always defers to his parents' wishes.
e.g. We can infer from your statement that you don't like this policy.
Common / Commonplace
Common: shared or used by many; commonplace: ordinary, not unusual.
e.g. English is a common language used in
e.g. Nowadays, carrying a gun is commonplace.
Compare to / Compare with
Compare to: state a resemblance to; compare with: put side by side to find out the similarities and differences.
e.g. The poet compares living in this modern world to riding on a bullet train.
e.g. If you compare Plan A with Plan B, you will know that Plan B is much better than Plan A.
Mediate / Meditate
Mediate means to act as a peacemaker; meditate means to think deeply.
e.g. The Secretary of State is trying to mediate between the two warring nations.
e.g. He meditated revenge after he was insulted by his coworkers.
Reverend / Reverent
Reverend: worthy of respect; reverent: showing respect.
e.g. Have you met the Rev. Mr. Johnson?
e.g. He gave a reverent speech on drug addiction.
In regard to / As regards
Both mean with reference to.
e.g. As regards your performance, I think you did a good job (no “to”).
e.g. She is very generous in regard to charity donation.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau