Sweeped or swept

To sweep is to move quickly or to use a broom to move something such as dust. In sporting, especially American baseball, a team can sweep a series of games with an opponent by winning each one. The past tense and the past participle have the same spelling: swept. Unlike leap and bless, this word does not have a less common variation. Sweeped is not a dictionary-recognized word. Some less reputable online dictionaries list it as an obsolete past tense of sweep. If so, it has been obsolete … [Read more...]

Pediatric or paediatric

Pediatric is the medical term designating something has having to do with children, either their care, treatment, or diseases. It is the adjective form. The noun form is pediatrics. As a noun it can be either plural or singular but it always keeps the plural spelling. A person who has gone to medical school to specialize in the care of children is called a pediatrician. Outside of the United States, the term keeps its original spelling … [Read more...]

Helter skelter or helter-skelter

As a noun, adjective, and adverb, this term is spelled the same way: helter-skelter. It means to be disorderly, confused, hurried, or haphazard. Outside of the United States, the noun form can be used as a name for a certain kind of amusement park ride that twists and turns around a tower. Helter skelter, without a hyphen, is often used for the title of songs, books, or movies. The exact origin of the term is unknown but it dates from the late sixteenth century. Examples The backdrop … [Read more...]

Would just as soon or assume

The phrase would just as soon means the user would prefer one option to another. It is a comparative phrase that sometimes leaves off the second half of the comparison. The confusion comes when the phrase is heard instead of read. If the speaker's annunciation isn't clear, as soon can be interpreted assume. In some cases, assume can make sense in the sentence (e.g., I'd just assume it was done.), but the actual phrase is as soon. Examples I’d just as soon been forced to go see the musical … [Read more...]

Began vs begun

Begin is a verb that means to start, initiate, or set in motion. The past tense is began and should never be used with auxiliary verbs. The past participle, used with conjugations of the helping or auxiliary verbs and changes the verb to an adjective, is begun. The progressive tense is beginning, which can also be a noun and an adjective. Examples After weeks of dramatic testimony, jurors are set to begin deliberations Tuesday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who faces life in prison or … [Read more...]

All American or all-American

All-American, spelled with a hyphen, is an adjective to describe something or someone as having the general qualities associated with being from the United States of America. This can also be a title given to someone or something that is chosen or voted to be the best in America. A variant of this term is all-America; however, this variant is almost exclusively tied to the athletic designation. This term can also be a noun for someone or something that typifies the United States or has been … [Read more...]


Comeuppance is a noun meaning a consequence or result of a merited action. Sometimes we call this one's just deserts. The plural for this noun is comeuppances. Caution should be observed when using the plural. It does not suggest two punishments for the same person, but two different (though fitting) consequences for two different people. It was coined in the middle of the nineteenth century as a version of  a phrase come-up-ance, or the act of coming up in front of a judge to be … [Read more...]

Bad vs badly

Bad is an adjective that everyone generally knows. It is the opposite of good, poor quality or not well. The adverb form of bad is badly. Confusion comes when one needs to know whether or not to use the adjective form or the adverb form. Action verbs, which describe an activity or movement, need adverbs to modify how the action is being done. Linking verbs, which connect a state of being verb like to be to its state, require adjectives to modify them. Think of it as either modifying the … [Read more...]

Conceded or conceited

To concede something is to give in or stop protesting it. A loser concedes victory to the winner by surrendering. In a debate, one side may concede a point in the argument, or in other words, admit that the other side is correct in that point. The past tense of this word is conceded. It should be noted that the e in this word is pronounced with the long e sound. Also, this word is commonly misspelled and should not have two e's (as in succeed). Conceit is a mass noun that means to be overly … [Read more...]

Bent or bended

To bend something is to make a curve become straight or a straight line become a curve, either with a material or one's body. The past tense of this verb is bent. Bended is the archaic past tense of bend. Currently it is mainly used in the phrase on bended knee. This phrase means to be kneeling, usually in front of someone to ask either forgiveness or to propose getting married. Outside of usage in that specific phrase, bended is an error and bent should be used. The phrase on bent … [Read more...]

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