Over the past year I have read almost twenty books, some by new authors and others by well-established authors. I have seen many words authors misuse. We need to take a second look at these words.
A lot. This is never written as alot. It’s much better not to use these words at all. A lot can be a bushel, a ton, a billion. You get the picture. Use precise words.
Unique. Unique means one of a kind. It is never somewhat unique, very unique, most unique, etc. Then and than. Then refers to time and tells when in reference to something that previously happened or comes next. It was only then that he threw the ball to the quarterback. Then the quarterback made a touchdown. Than is used in comparisons. Ted is a better quarterback than Don.
Its and it’s. Its shows possession. The dog bit its tail. Its is confusing because an apostrophe usually shows possession, and its has no apostrophe. It’s means it is. It’s a long way to the airport. Here there is an apostrophe, but it shows that a letter has been left out to form the contraction it’s.
Fewer than and less than. Fewer than means a smaller number of something that you can count. Tom sang fewer songs than Mary. Less is the comparative of little. We use it in comparing numbers as in less than four. We also use it when we speak of quantity as less than a bushel. In common usage, when talking about time, money, or distance we say less than an hour, less than twenty dollars, or less than ten miles. When unsure about when to use fewer than or less than, better to check your dictionary.