• Lindsey McCaffrey: Premium Content Writer & Editor

Lay or Lie? Affect or Effect? Assure, Ensure or Insure? 11 Memes to Help You Use the Right Words

Misused words pop up all the time in business' written content. But they don't have to.

"What's the word I should use again?"

"Is it X, Y ... or Z?"

"Why can't I ever remember the rules about this word?"

Sound familiar? We all have at least a couple words that mix us up when we're writing. (Myself included - keep reading.)

And hey, mistakes happen. To all of us.

But far too often, I see words misused in business' written content. And that can negatively affect how people perceive your organization and brand.

So what's the big deal about a few misused words?

You may be thinking the occasional written error isn't that much of a concern.

I beg to differ. When word misuse appears to be a pattern, this can:

  • Significantly decrease the chances your business message will be understood

  • Reflect poorly on your organization's credibility and intelligence

  • Indicate that your business doesn't care about the small (but often most significant to customers) details

In other words: never underestimate the importance of clean, clear, correct content to people whose money and attention you seek.

No, not everyone will notice your errors.

But many people will.

So without further ado, here is a list of some of the most confusing and misused words I often see in business' written content.

1. i.e. and e.g.

Not sure when (or where) to use i.e or e.g.?

Both abbreviations are often used in the same documents (e.g., longer-form content like industry or research reports). Both are also Latin and, even spelled out in full, may not make sense to the average person.

Plus ... sometimes both i.e. and e.g. can apply.

So it's easy to get them confused.

Here's a handy chart with literal definitions of each abbreviation. Refer to this to figure out whether i.e. or e.g. work best in your writing.

2. Assure, insure, and ensure

Said aloud, all three words sound similar. Remarkably, assure, insure and ensure even have similar meanings.

So which word should you use ... and when?

Rather than memorize definitions, here's a great sentence that simplifies and differentiates each term.

3. Lie and lay

I admit it - lie and lay are two words that make me run to Google every time I need to write them.

For some reason, I just can't commit to memory the proper uses of lie and lay!

Thankfully, there are lots of resources to turn to when I need a reminder.

Here's a good one that shares their definitions PLUS how to use them in specific tenses:

Or, if you just want something simple (and cute) to post on your wall, here's another meme:

4. A lot and allot

Put simply:

  • allot is a verb that means "to give something"

  • a lot is an adjective that refers to a large number of amount

Also - never ever write "alot." There is no such word!

(Surprise - sometimes spelling and grammar can be fun! I promise: check out this hilarious blog about the creature Alot.)

5. Peek, peak and pique

I see these three words used incorrectly in professionally written content all the time. It truly is a tricky homophone for many people.

Luckily, this image beautifully simplifies the differences between the three words: