Most writers mix up a word or two now and then. Some writers mix up a lot of words a lot of the time. In novels that have not been copy-edited, I find a disturbing number of errors and those of word usage are some of the most glaring.
They are also the easiest for the writer to fix and to avoid in the first place.
Here are some examples of words and phrases that are often confused or misused.
I shudder when I see lay and lie misused, but it is such a common error that I have devoted a whole post to it. You can visit it here.
You rise when you get up, but when you lift something else up, you raise it.
The past tense is rose, or if you lifted something you raised it.
A knot could come loose, and then you might lose something you had tied up with it.
When you take a breath, you breathe.
You might be loath to do something that you loathe.
peek, peak, pique
Let’s take a peek out the window at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. Oh, no, not now. Maybe later. But you have piqued my interest.
But later, she was piqued by his rudeness, and huffed around the house in a fit of pique.
A horde of people pushed their way towards the speaker.
During the Covid crisis, some people were hoarding toilet paper.
The picture was hung on the wall, but the man was hanged from the gibbet.
You ensure (make sure) that something happens, but you insure (buy compensation) against losing money in case of an accident.
less, amount, fewer, number
Less and amount are used with quantities that cannot be counted individually, while fewer and number are used for things that can be counted.
There has been less cloud this week, but we have had fewer cloudy days.
A number of people have said that the amount of meat a person eats has a direct effect on their health.
What he said does not affect me directly, but the overall effect of his way of talking is that people like him less for it.
The list of word usage errors is quite long and I may post another list at a later time. For now, this is a start.