The four common words even smart people misuse

Do you know your 'less' from your 'fewer'? 

There are certain words that get misused in the English language.

From mixing up pacific and specific, to misspelling definitely and defiantly, there are small grammatical and linguistic mistakes that we are all prone to make.

But it’s easy to slip up on your own language and miss the words you get right and those that you don’t.

Users on Quora shared their ‘pet peeves’ on the English words that are often misused in writing.

1. Less or fewer

Brian Collins, who has a master's in linguistics, pointed out how often "less" and "fewer" are mixed up.

He wrote: "In American English for example, pretty much no one distinguishes between "less" and "fewer".  Sometimes using the prescriptively correct one can sound completely unnatural:

"‘Fewer than five items’ - I mean really? That hurts my ears even though it is prescriptively correct."

2. Irregardless

Warren Kramer outlined one of his pet peeves as the use of the word “irregardless", which he argues "is not an English literary word".  

Getting into grammatical detail, he wrote: "It is a self-contained redundancy. The prefix ‘ir’ turns the root word (regard) into a negative, and so does the suffix ‘less’. So ‘regardless’ (the correct word) means ‘without regard’. Thus ‘irregardless’, if it were a word at all, would mean ‘not without regard’, in other words the same as ‘regard’".

Six-year-old spelling star

3. Travesty or tragedy

When should you mean a ‘tragedy’ and when should you mean ‘travesty’? Darren McSweeney wrote that this is an often misused word.

He wrote: "If you mean tragedy, say tragedy. Travesty means joke or mockery. A criminal being acquitted is a travesty of justice because the result is making a mockery of the justice system. A thousand people dying in an earthquake is not a travesty."

4. Everyday or every day

Kiran Kummar Redy pointed out the misuse of "everyday" and "every day".

He wrote: "Everyday and every day are commonly confused in English. There’s no difference in pronunciation, but using the wrong one when writing is a mistake in the everyday English you use every day. ‘Everyday' is an adjective that means commonplace, ordinary, or normal. ‘Every day’ means 'each day'."