It’s the teacher/proofreader in me I guess but these are the most common errors I see while meandering around the internet:
stationery vs. stationary
- Stationery means office supplies – I need some more stationery
- Stationary means not moving – the man rode his bicycle into a stationary car
- I would have gone there but I was running late.
- different from
loose vs. lose
- I need to lose weight
- When I lose weight, hopefully my trousers will be loose
its vs. it’s
- The door was hanging off its hinges
- it’s getting very late (abbreviation of it is)
compliment vs. complement
- thank you for the compliment
- this wine will be a perfect complement to your beef
reign vs. rein
- the Queen has reigned for 60 years
- the goverment needs to rein in spending
And then the huge irritations of:
- supposably instead of supposedly
- irregardless instead of regardless or irrespective
- pair a scissors instead of pair of scissors
- literally instead of figuratively
- nauseous instead of nauseated
- he was sat/stood instead of he was sitting/standing
- using infer instead of imply (I infer, you imply)
Not to mention:
- Discreet, as in cautious, careful, spelled discrete, which means separate or individually distinct. Correct usage: We did some discreet investigating
- Flaunt (show off ostentatiously) used instead of flout (show disregard for). Correct usage: He flouted the rules whenever it suited him. He flaunted the fact that he had lots of money.
- Chomping at the bit instead of champing at the bit. A horse champs at the bit in its mouth, eager to get going. Chomping implies eating something noisily.
- Your used instead of you’re. As in your welcome. Your is genitive (possessive) as in your jacket is here. You’re is a contraction of you are.
- Amount used instead of number. Amount is uncountable and number is countable. The number of people there was surprising.
- on tender hooks instead of on tenterhooks