Writing Tips: Commonly Misused Words


Capitol versus capital? Ensure or insure? Immigrate or emigrate? Many words sound exactly the same, but have different meanings. I’m going to list a few of the most commonly misused words, and explain how they should be used.

Capitol versus capital: A letter that starts a sentence is a capitol letter. The most important city in a region, state or country is its capital. One way to remember the difference is: a capital often has tall buildings in it.

Ensure or insure: To ensure is to make certain that something is going to happen: She wanted to ensure that the bills got paid.  To insure is to buy insurance to protect something: She had her house insured.

Immigrate versus emigrate: To immigrate is to come to live in another country; you move into the country. One way to remember this is you are moving in/immigrating. To emigrate is to leave your country to go to live somewhere else.

I hope these tips are helpful! Have a question about writing? Comment or email me at leslie@lesliewellsbooks.com

Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a novel about publishing and rock and roll, set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com

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