correctuse



Commonly misused words

The following is a list of words that are commonly confused or misused, even by native English speakers.



administer/administrate

To administrate means to manage or organize. A drug is administered, not administrated. Administration, however, is the noun of administer, which may lead to this common mistake.

avoid   Gastric ulcers were induced in rats by administrating 20% acetic acid.
better Gastric ulcers were induced in rats by administering 20% acetic acid.

avoid   IFN was self-administrated subcutaneously.
better IFN was self-administered subcutaneously.



affect/effect

As verbs: affectmeans to have an influence on; effectmeans to cause or bring about.

example:

“The addition of MX-68 to cultured rat cells affected polyglutamate formation” (ie, could have either induced, increased or decreased).

“The addition of MX-68 to cultured rat cells effected polyglutamate formation” (ie, induced, brought it about).

As nouns: affectmeans an emotional feeling, tone or mood; effectmeans result.




alteration/alternation

Alternation (the occurrence of two things by turns) is often wrongly used to mean alteration (simply a change). Alteration may be used as a synonym of mutation.

avoid   SMID is associated with mtDNA alternations.
better   SMID is associated with mtDNA alterations.
better   SMID is associated with mtDNA mutations.


common/popular

Popular is often mistakenly used to mean common, prevalent or widespread. This can be very inappropriate since popular actually means especially liked or preferred.

avoid   Strain of the ACL of the knee is a popular injury among budo practitioners
better   Strain of the ACL of the knee is a common injury among budo practitioners

avoid   Cancer was the most popular cause of death in this population
better   Cancer was the most common cause of death in this population
better   Cricket is a popular sport in Australia


conservative/conserved

DNA sequences may be conserved between species, and these regions are called conserved regions, not conservative regions. Conservative implies a medical treatment that is by limited or well-established procedures.

avoid The conservative region of the pit 1 gene was amplified by PCR.
better The conserved region of the pit 1 gene was amplified by PCR.

avoid   All clones contained the highly conservative sof sequence.
better   All clones contained the highly conserved sof sequence.

avoid   Due to complications, we selected conserved treatment for this case.
better   Due to complications, we selected conservative treatment for this case.


describe/report

A patient is a person; a case is a disease. Patients or cases are described; only cases are reported.

good   We describe a patient with gynecomastia induced by omeprazole.
good   We report a case of omeprazole-induced gynecomastia.


dose/dosage

A doseis a specific amount whereas dosageimplies a regimen and is therefore usually indicated as amount per unit of time.

example:

“Patients received an initial doseof 25 mg and thereafter a dosageof 10 mg twice a day for 2 weeks.”

etc

Etc can only be used when the contents of a noninclusive list are obvious to the reader. However, etc is an imprecise expression and should generally be avoided in scientific writing. When giving a partial list use such as or including at the start of the list, and put nothing at the end of the list.

avoid   (A, B and C, etc)

better
 
(such as A, B and C)

avoid   Physical factors (joint laxity, knee muscular force, etc) were compared to activity scores.

better
 
Physical factors (such as joint laxity and knee muscular force) were compared to activity scores.

avoid   Trp is involved in substrate binding in most glycosyl hydrolases, including lysozyme, cellulases, xylanases etc.

better
 
Trp is involved in substrate binding in most glycosyl hydrolases, including lysozyme, cellulases, and xylanases.

Try to avoid using eg (for example; from the Latin exempli gratia) and ie (that is; from the Latin id est).

If you do use them: Do not use etc after eg; and use ie when the list is specific and all-inclusive, or when clarifying or defining something.

example:

Change in height (ie, height velocity) may only be transiently reduced in asthmatic children

example:

Lysosomal cysteine proteases have been implicated in specific pathological states (ie, arthritis and cancer metastasis)

Also avoid and so on, and so forth, and and the like.


mutant/mutation

A mutationis an alteration in the primary sequence of DNA.

Mutantrefers to an strain of organism, population, allele or gene which carry one or moremutations.

good   We characterised four meiotic yeast mutants(i.e. strains of yeast)

good
 
We characterised four meiotic yeast mutations(i.e. changes in the yeast DNA sequence)




good
 
This G to T mutationin the lim 2 gene was linked to cataract formation in the TO3 mutantmouse




good
 
Mice were homozygous for this mutantallele



Therefore a mutanthas no genetic locus, only a phenotype. A mutationcan be mapped, but a mutantcannot.

avoid We mapped the XYZ mutant to chromosome 6q16

better
 
We mapped the XYZ mutationto chromosome 6q16


on/upon

Uponalways means onand should be changed accordingly.




remarkable/marked

Remarkableis commonly wrongly used to indicate a change that is notable but not significant. The correct word is marked.

avoid   “There was a remarkableincrease in binding.”
better   “There was a markedincrease in binding.”



reproductive/reproducible

Reproductiverefers to the biological process by which organisms produce offspring, and cannot be used to describe results that could be repeated. Results that can be repeated are reproducible;they could be reproduced or duplicated.

avoid   “Results were reproductivein all three experiments.”

better
 
“Results were reproduciblein all three experiments.”



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