Quiz: Commonly misused or misspelled words

These terms and phrases can trip up even veteran writers. Take this usage quiz to see how much of a word nerd you are.

I’ve written more posts than I can count about confusing word pairs, words that are hard to spell and words that aren’t really words.

Instead of another article about usage, let’s see how you fare with a quiz.

Read the list below and make note of which words or phrases are incorrect—either from misspelling or from misstatement. Check your answers at the end.

Definitions and usage guidance came from Oxford Dictionaries, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.

1. Alterior motive

2. Augurs well for the project

3. Brussel sprout

4. Caddy-corner

5. Center around

6. Conversate

7. Coursing through my veins

8. Cut and dry

9. Derring-do

10. Digestive track

11. Dire straits

12. Door jamb

13. Doughnut

14. Duct tape

15. Easedrop

16. Fine-tooth comb

17. Harebrained

18. Home in

19. Mute point

20. Old wise tale

21. Per say

22. Sleight of hand

23. Thunder and lightening

24. Wet your appetite


1. Incorrect. “Alterior” should read “ulterior.”

2. Correct.

3. Incorrect. “Brussel sprouts” should be “Brussels sprouts.”

4. Incorrect. “Caddy” is not correct; instead, use “catty” or “kitty.”

5. Incorrect. Things don’t “center around,” but rather “center on” or “revolve around.”

6. Incorrect. It should be “converse.”

7. Correct.

8. Incorrect. It should be “cut and dried.”

9. Correct.

10. Incorrect. It should be “digestive tract.”

11. Correct.

12. Correct.

13. Correct.

14. Correct.

15. Incorrect. “Easedrop” should be “eavesdrop.”

16. Correct.

17. Correct.

18. Correct. “Home” is to “focus in on a target”; “hone” means “to sharpen.”

19. Incorrect. “Mute” should read “moot.”

20. Incorrect. Instead of “wise,” it’s an “old wives’ tale.”

21. Incorrect. “Per say” should read “per se,” meaning “by or in itself.”

22. Correct.

23. Incorrect. “Lightening” is incorrect; “lightning” is correct.

24. Incorrect. “Wet” should be “whet,” which means to “stimulate an appetite or desire.”

How did you do, PR Daily readers? What words or phrases cause you trouble?

Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at impertinentremarks.

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