Common Stumbling Blocks for Authors

Feb 15, 2023

There are quite a few words in this language of ours that are confusing. I’m so thankful to have the automatic spelling and grammar check, but I still struggle. It gets complicated for me, particularly when I’m leaving a note for somebody… or someone… (phew, it doesn’t matter). Anyway, one of the reasons I thought I’d never be able to write a book is because I just could not spell, let alone take the time to memorize all of these. I have a few memorized, it helps when there are tricks to help me…

Dear Google & Microsoft, Thank you.

There They’re Their

  • Where are the students? They’re over there waiting for their teacher!

Effect / Affect can be explained by the Raven

  • RavenRemember Affect = Verb, Effect = Noun
  • Affect is an influence; Effect is a result.

Lay / Lie

  • Don’t just lie there (no subject)
  • After a tough day I lie down to recoup. (No subject)
  • I lay my phone (here’s your subject) on the nightstand when I lie (no subject) down.

Data / Datum

  • Data is plural– All the data on this chart are correct.
  • Datum is singular – The first datum in the 3rd column is incorrect.


  • I before E except after C and sounding like A as in neighbor and weigh
  • Receipt
  • Tier ,Tried, Movie

All ready / Already

  • Are you all ready? (completely prepared)
  • Don’t call for tickets, I already bought them. (Happened before now)

Any Way /  Anyway

  • Any Way – Two words,  in any manner or by any means possible.
  • Anyway – Regardless, despite the circumstances. It doesn’t matter anyway. Also – to resume where you left off… anyway, back to my story.

One important note for a writer. Try to get these tricky words right, but don’t worry about it on your first draft. Just get the story down first. The first edit will be simpler if you have at least some of these memorized but don’t stop your progress worrying about them. The first draft of The Zing fling, my newest book, was originally written using an old manual clickety-clack Royal typewriter. Again, I really mean it – thank you Microsoft and Google.