Differentiating Between Commonly Confused Words
As a copywriter, there’s no such thing as complete mastery of the craft. Language evolves, social mores change and the zeitgeist becomes harder to pin down. Through it all, captivating consumers with words remains challenging. Whether you write every day, read voraciously, or study classic ad campaigns, there are many opportunities to continue developing your craft. Today we wanted to take it back to basics and differentiate between the usage of some commonly confused words and phrases. They’re issues we’ve come across while editing projects, and they’re issues even editors struggle with sometimes. If you can relate, bookmark this page for future reference.
Premier vs. Premiere
“Premier” is an adjective that means the best or the first of something.
Example: “Scrubs ’n Suds is Plainville’s premier car wash!”
“Premier” as a noun refers to a political leader, but in American English that usage is relatively rare.
“Premiere” is the first showing or initial release of something, like a feature film. It can be used as a noun, verb or adjective.
Example: “Starlets graced the red carpet at The Great Escape’s premiere.”
“His first music video premiered on MTV in 1995.”
Regime vs. Regimen
“Regime” refers to governments or periods of political rule.
Example: “The dictator’s regime cast a shadow of fear over the country.”
“Regimen” is a scheduled activity or routine.
Example: “Clarissa’s skincare regimen kept her looking fresh, even on early mornings.”
Effect vs. Affect
This one’s always tricky. “Affect” as a verb usually means to impact or influence something.
Example: “Reading fashion magazines all day affected her self-image.”
It can also mean to pretend or feign.
Example: “Ted Bundy affected a limp to trick young women into helping him.”
As a noun, it refers to someone’s demeanor (their affectation).
Effect is most often used as a noun to mean the end result of an action.
Example: “The effect of the storm was devastating.”
As a verb, it means “to cause something to happen or occur.”
Example: “He worked as a young activist to effect change in his community.”
Everyday vs. Every day
“Everyday” is an adjective that means ordinary or typical. It will modify a noun or pronoun.
Example: “He was your everyday dog who loved walks, food, and playing with toys.”
“Every day” is a phrase that means “each day.”
Example: “Every day, the vendor set up his fruit stand and sold his wares on the street.”
Example for BOTH: “These are my everyday clothes. I wear them every day.”
This one’s more of a personal pet peeve: the word “unique” means one-of-a-kind — so there’s no need to modify it with an adverb of degree. Something can’t be “so unique” or “very unique” because it’s either one-of-a-kind or it isn’t.
Example: “The custom dress was unique to her proportions, so it wouldn’t fit anyone else.”
That’s it for today’s lesson on English language usage! We hope you found this quick rundown helpful. If you ever have questions about best grammar and usage practices, you can always reference resources like Grammarly, Paul Brians’ Common Errors, Notorious Confusables and more. Happy writing!