This section provides usage rules for commonly misused words.
Use "between" to describe the direct relationship or comparison of two or more items. Use "among" when the relationship is less direct. Another way to say that is, use "between" when the relationship of the items is individual; use "among" when the relationship is collective.
You can choose between steak, chicken, and fish.
John was among the candidates chosen.
Use "can" to describe actions or conditions that are possible. Use "may" only to describe situations where permission is being given. If either "can," "could," or "may" apply, use "can" because its less tentative. Use "may" as a conditional only when you need to be tentative.
You can submit the form upon completion.
(You are able to submit the form.)
You may submit the form upon completion.
(You have permission to submit the form.)
"Comprise" means to include or maintain. The whole comprises the parts rather than the reverse. Never use "comprised of."
The Branch comprises several workgroups.
Several workgroups comprise the Branch.
The Branch is comprised of several workgroups.
Use "need" instead of "desire" and "wish" in manuals. Use "want" when the readers actions are optional (that is, they may not "need" something but may still "want" something).
If you need to confirm receipt of your application, call the Branch Office.
Select the books you want and sign them out in the register.
Use "different from" rather than "different than" when the next part of the sentence is a noun or pronoun (that is, two things are being compared).
Form 123 is different from Form 124.
"Ensure" means to guarantee. "Insure" refers to insurance.
Ensure that the applicant has completed the necessary forms before continuing.
You can insure your house up to its market value.
Avoid using "presently" as its often taken to mean "now" rather than its actual meaning "soon."
"Then" refers to a time in the past or the next step in a sequence. "Than" is used for comparisons.
"That" introduces a restrictive clausea clause that must be there for the sentence to make sense. A restrictive clause often defines the noun or phrase preceding it.
The form that is used for the final submission should be completed in ink.
"Which" introduces a nonrestrictive, parenthetical clausea clause that could be omitted without affecting the meaning of the sentence.
The green form, which is used for the final submission, should be completed in ink.
Use "who" or "whom," rather than "that" or "which," when referring to a person.
"Their" is the possessive form of "they."
Its their responsibility to keep the minutes for the meeting.
"There" is an adverb used to indicate a place or position other than "here."
Your book is over there.
"Your" is the possessive form of you.
This is your coat.
"Youre" is the contraction of "you are."
Youre in charge today.