Word Choice

Students may also use similar-looking words interchangeably, due to these words containing the same root words. Examples of such words include oversight and foresight, as well as careless and carefree. However, they should be careful in assuming the meaning of words that they are unsure of, especially since using some of these seemingly similar words might significantly alter what is being implied in the sentence.

For example:

Incorrect: Denise wished that she had the oversight to prepare for her examinations earlier.

Correct: Denise wished that she had the foresight to prepare for her examinations earlier.

In this context, oversight means making a mistake due to carelessness or negligence, while foresight refers to the ability to predict and plan ahead for the future. It would be more likely for the Denise in our example to have hoped to plan ahead in preparing for her exams, rather than wishing that she had made a mistake in doing so.

Even though both these words might appear to have similar meanings at the first reading, they actually have wildly different connotations. When in doubt, it is always useful to consult a dictionary to be certain of the definitions of words before using them in any piece of writing.

Homophones

Sometimes, spelling mistakes occur when a student uses homophones incorrectly in a sentence. Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different spelling and meaning. Examples of homophones include words such as there, they’re, and their, or see and sea. Due to their similar sounds, it can be tricky for students to choose the correct homophone to use in a sentence.

For example:

Incorrect: Their having lunch at the restaurant again.

Correct: They’re having lunch at the restaurant again.

The use of their in the example above is incorrect, as their is a personal possessive pronoun. This means that their is always used to describe a noun in order to indicate ownership; examples include “their cat” or “their house.”

However, they’re is a contraction of they are. When unsure of when to use they’re, students can replace they’re with the words they are in order to check if this works grammatically in their sentence. In the context of the example above, “They are having lunch at the restaurant again” is grammatically correct.