commonly misused words in english language

English is a language filled with nuances and subtle variations. Even English professors can’t say for sure that they have achieved absolute mastery over the language. One can practice the language for years and become the greatest English speaker and writer in history but there will always be certain things that would remain unlearned.

Nevertheless, this is not to discourage you from learning the language. On the contrary, we want you to give your best at learning English but you must keep in mind that you must always look forward to learning more. To give you an example, we are basing this article on certain English words that most of us get wrong. All of us have misused these words at some point and maybe we still are unaware of the real meaning behind them.

Let’s take a look:


Aggravate is mostly used to signify frustration and annoyance. However, the correct meaning of the word is ‘to increase the gravity of’ or ‘make something worse’.

Eg: Strict actions would only aggravate the situation.


The word literally is used to represent accuracy. When we say something literally happened, it means, it happened just as explained. When something is explained literally, it is not to be taken figuratively or metaphorically. Nevertheless, more often than not we incorrectly use ‘literally’ to explain almost any instance.

Eg: I have literally been out of money for the past week.


Individual should not be used as a synonym for a person as it signifies a single character as opposed to a group. 

Eg: Since we can’t print them at once, the individual pages will have to be printed one by one.

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This word is often misused in the place of ‘common.’ Mutual signifies an action or relation between two or more people or things. 


This is one of the most overused adjectives in the English language. If you want to have better English speaking skill, it is advised to completely drop this word from your vocabulary and look for more suitable adjectives. 

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This word is often used as a synonym for ‘happen’. It actually means ‘to be revealed’.


The word ‘idea’ should not be used as a synonym for ‘plan’, ‘principle’, ‘cause’ or ‘scheme’ but as a standalone word that means a thought or suggestion. 


Differ is most commonly seen as a replacement for ‘vary’. This is incorrect. One should not use the word ‘differ’ and follow it with ‘according to’.


Infer means ‘to deduce’ not ‘imply’. Eg: From the given facts, we can infer that the crime was done out of passion.

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Indulge in

Indulge in should be applied in sentences where pleasure and amusement is concerned. For everything else, one should use the word ‘engage.’


Mostly is another word that is overused in the English language. Instead of using mostly in every sentence, try going for other adverbs such as generally or usually.


Factor means elements or influences that contribute to the final result. It should only be used when the notion of contribution to result is present.


Populace means ‘common people’ and should not be used for ‘people’ or ‘population’.

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