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a
If the beginning of an abbreviation, acronym, or number has a consonant SOUND, it should be preceded by this.
an
If the beginning of an abbreviation, acronym, or number has a vowel SOUND, it should be preceded by this.
acute
a sudden crisis or pain that requires immediate attention (may be used in physical health, global, economic, or other contexts)
chronic
a lingering condition, one that is not easily overcome (may be used in physical health, global, economic, or other contexts)
affect (v.)
to influence ("She affected the attitudes of the other team members")
effect (v.)
to accomplish ("The prisoners effected an escape")
aggression
always denotes intensity WITH hostility
aggressiveness
may denote either hostility or merely boldness (and MUST be used for any context of intensity without open hostility)
and
The belief that this word should not be used to begin a sentence is without foundation. And that's all there is to it.
altercation
A heated exchange of words and nothing more. No one suffers physical injury in an altercation. This is often used wrong.
alright
Is still looked down on as illiterate and unacceptable. Try "all right."
anno Domini
latin for A.D. Means "the year of our Lord," not "after death."
"to all intents and purposes"
redundant, unnecessary phrase. Use one or the other words and not both
aroma
Does not apply to any smell, only pleasant ones. A "pungent aroma" can never be appropriate.
affinity
Should be used for a mutual attraction or affection. Technically one does not have it FOR another, but should have it WITH another. However, many dictionaries have relaxed on this distinction.
alleviate
giving temporary relief without removing the underlying cause of a problem
allusion
Does not mean merely "a reference" (although many textbooks oversimplify it as such). It is actually an implied reference from an unstated source (that the reader must know) only.
assuage
means to put the problem to rest completely, most often used with fears
relieve
covers both alleviate and assuage (easing or solving), as it's a more general meaning
advance planning
redundant misuse. Preparation is always done ahead.
for awhile
Incorrect. Must be "for a while" or "awhile." The meaning of awhile implies the word "for."
assume
to suppose (guess)
presume
similar to assume, but with an air of sticking one's neck out (making an assertion that may be arguable or wrong)
Awakened
As a past tense, this is never wrong. Better than using "awoke" or "awokened." "Awaked" can be used, also.
old adage
redundant misuse. The meaning of the second word implies age.