So many words, so little time! Everyday you’re writing and writing, sending out press releases and bylines, reports and research, and the scariest part may be that you’re using some words or phrases wrong every single time. Make sure to remember the words/phrases mentioned below, and incorporate them into your work to make sure you’re not mixing up your usages in the future.
Flesh Out vs. Flush Out
Only a one letter difference, but that letter can be the distinction between effectively conveying your message, and completely missing the point. “Flesh out” means to give something substance, or to add to it with the goal of making it fuller or more complete. The easiest way to remember “flesh out” is to think of a skeleton being “fleshed out” or having flesh added to it to complete the picture of a fully formed human.
On the other hand, “Flush out” means to force something out of hiding, generally. For example, one may flush out birds from their nests, or flush out the truth from someone, but in neither instance would “flesh out” be the correct usage.
Comprised vs. Composed of vs. Comprises
At first glance, these three may seem to be conveying nearly the same idea. Yet, there are small, yet important grammatical rules for these three that should greatly affect how you use them in the future. According to Merriam-Webster, “composed of” or “comprises” should be used in lieu of “comprised” or “comprised of” which are often used in place of the two aforementioned words. A sentence like “the cake is composed of eggs and flour” should not use the word “comprised”. A better usage when writing “comprise” is to say something along the lines of: “the building comprises seven properties” rather than saying “comprised of.” Remember to substitute in “composed of” or even “constituted” for proper and grammatically sound sentence structure.
Seemingly the most popular misused word around these days, everyone is saying they’re “nonplussed” when really they’re indifferent or unfazed or uninterested. Let’s fix this! Nonplussed means to either be “at a loss of what to think” or “bewildered”. However, many use it as a way to say they are displeased, i.e: “I was nonplussed by the dinner”. The easiest way to remember the correct usage is to connect “nonplussed” with “speechlessness”; if you are unable to think of anything to say at all, then you are nonplussed. If you are able to articulate and understand why you do or don’t like something, then you are feeling something else entirely.
While these three above are important grammatical usages to remember, there are plenty of other worthy mistakes we make everyday that should be righted. Consider “peruse”, which means to read thoroughly or examine at length, not to skim. “Entitled” is not a way to announce the title of a book, instead it connotes privilege, or the feeling that you have the right to something. And finally, don’t forget “irregardless”, which has never been, nor will be, a real word!