There is nothing as embarrassing as using a word confidently in a presentation or conversation and then later on finding out that it means nothing like what you thought it did from other people.

Are a few memories coming to mind?

Don’t worry though. You’re not alone in the experience. Even professionals and CEOs are prone to making some mistakes.

As an adult person in the world, you should already know the difference between its and it’s; to, too, and two; and their, there and they’re. For that matter, you should already know affect vs. effect and lay vs. lie. That’s English 101.

What’s that? You don’t actually remember the difference between affect vs. effect and lay vs. lie? Quick reminder: Affect is a verb, meaning “to influence,” and effect is a noun, meaning “an influence.” Try to remember “cause and effect.” “Lay” means “to put down or set down something”; “lie” means “to rest” (or, you know, to fib). Try to remember, “A chicken lays an egg, and then it lies down.” Making eggs is hard work!

Now let’s skip ahead to the senior-level stuff, the stuff your spell-checker will never catch but you need to know.

#1 Utilize

‘Utilize’ is a word pertaining to a situation wherein a thing is used for a purpose it wasn’t initially intended for or repurposed to serve another one. In most cases, the word ‘use’ perfectly suffices, and people make the mistake of deciding to use ‘utilize’ in order to make something sound more scientific. In the end, the best choice is to stick with ‘use.’

#2 Unique

The word ‘unique’ is used to describe something that’s ‘one of its kind’ or ‘unlike anything else.’ Too bad a lot of people are using the word to advertise products which are not at all, well, unique.

To keep the word’s weight and meaning, perhaps advertisers can opt to use the words ‘unusual’ or ‘exceptional’ instead.

Read more on the next page…