Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: The 'A' s Have It

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Today, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 tackles word pairings that often cause confusion, such as adverse and averse, accept and except, and arbitrate and mediate, as well as the nagging question of when to use awhile versus a while.


Which is correct?

Accept or except? 

Accept is a verb that means to receive.

John accepted the cake from Susan, despite its unusual smell.

Except means to leave out of or exclude.

All of the guests except Susan became ill after eating the cake. 

Adverse or averse?

Adverse is an adjective that means unfavorable or harmful.

The cake had an adverse effect on the party guests.

Averse is an adjective that means reluctant or disinclined.

Susan is averse to answering questions about the cake.

Allude, elude, or refer?

Allude is to use an indirect reference.

Susan alluded to adding traces of rat poisoning in the cake.

Refer is to mention something directly.

Susan referred to the time when she caught John cheating with Josie.

Elude is to escape.

Susan eluded the police.

Arbitrate or mediate?

There is a subtle difference. Arbitrate means to hear evidence from all concerned parties, then make a decision or ruling. To mediate is to listen to both parties and try to bring them to an agreement.

A mutually agreed upon party, Sid mediated John and Susan's divorce proceedings to no avail, so they brought in Shelby, who arbitrated the case.

Anybody, any body, anyone, or any one?

Use one word for an indefinite reference.

Anyone can see Susan is crazy.

The two-word phrase is used to single out someone or something.

Any one of them could testify that Susan tried to poison John.

Grammar Nerd Question of the Week:

Can anyone tell me what is the difference between aural and oral?


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


The classroom is filled with aural stimulus as the students give their oral reports. ;)
R. Doug Wicker said…
Hi, Karen! So glad you're doing the Grammarphobes thing again. LOVE this series.
Thanks, R. Doug. :)

Good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.
R. Doug Wicker said…
Doing GREAT, Karen. Thanks for asking. How have you been?
Good to hear! Not bad. Been on a little sabbatical, but I'm back. :)
Lidy said…
Great post Karen. I admit I get confused sometimes over accept and except. I'm usually typing so fast that I used either one interchangeably that I stop mid-type to fix it because I know it's being used wrong in the sentence. I have the same problem with affect and effect too.
aural is to hear as oral is to speak
Accept and except is a problem for me too, Lidy. You got aural and oral -- way to go! Thanks for stopping by.
Beverly Diehl said…
These are awesome. Sharing! (But not sharing the cake, just sayin.)

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