hopefully Opinion is divided about the acceptability of attaching this adverb loosely to a sentence and using it to mean "I hope": "Hopefully, the plane will arrive on schedule." This usage is gaining acceptance, but there is still strong objection to it. In college writing the safe decision is to avoid it.
imply, infer Imply means to suggest something. Infer means to derive a certain meaning from a remark or an action.
in, into In means "inside something." Into tells of motion from the outside to the inside of something.
Nonstandard: Carl dove in the water.
Standard: Carl dove into the water.
Nonstandard: I drove the car in the garage.
Standard: I drove the car into the garage.
inside of, outside of Inside of and outside of generally should not be used as compound prepositions. In place of the compound prepositions in "The display is inside of the auditorium" and "The pickets were waiting outside of the gate," write "Inside the auditorium" and "outside the gate." Inside of is acceptable in most formal writing when it means "in less than": "I'll be there inside of an hour." The more formal term is within.
Both inside of and outside of are appropriate when inside or outside is a noun followed by an of phrase: "The inside of the house is attractive"; "He painted the outside of his boat dark green."
irregardless A nonstandard variant of regardless. Do not use it.
lead, led, lead Lead (pronounced leed) means to go first ("You lead because you know the way"). Led is the past tense of lead ("He led us five miles out of the way"). Lead is a heavy metal; also the graphite in a pencil ("The books are as heavy as lead").
lie, lay Lie means to recline. Lay means to put or place something.
like, as, as if While the use of like as a conjunction is common in speaking, its use as a conjunction is not fully established in writing. Like is better used as a preposition.
Not accepted: I feel like Susan Anderson does about consumers' rights.
Better: I feel as Susan Anderson does about consumers' rights.
Not accepted: Ralph looked like he had seen a ghost.
Better: Ralph looked as if he had seen a ghost.
loose, lose Loose means to be free, not close together ("He has two loose front teeth"). To lose means to suffer loss ("Do not lose your tickets").
moral, morale Moral means good ("We admire a moral person"); it is also a lesson on conduct ("The moral of the story. . . "). Morale is a mental condition, spirit ("The team's morale was low?").
most, almost Almost is an adverb meaning "nearly." Most is an adjective meaning "the greater part."
Nonstandard: Most everyone attended the game.
Standard: Almost everyone attended the game.