Probably everyone who ever wrote anything has some words they find troublesome. Here are a few that many people struggle with.
- passed or past
Passed is used when you mean the past tense of the verb to pass (go by, or beyond something).
Past refers to a time that has gone by.
I passed a car that was traveling too slowly on the highway.
My great-grandmother passed away when I was a baby (in the past).
She passed (handed out) the exams papers to the students. We all hoped we had passed the exam (passed beyond the required grade).
Neither of us wanted to talk about our past (time gone by).
It was already past the hour (the time) when we usually went to sleep. We hadn’t realized how quickly the time had passed (gone by).
It does get tricky. You can be in a car that has passed a bicycle. That means you have gone past the bicycle. Yikes!!! Hang in there. It does make sense. Your car did the action of passing the bicycle and you went past the bicycle (to a point beyond it).
That was a tricky one. The next ones should be easier.
2. advice or advise, and
3. affect or effect
Advice is the noun and advise is the verb. I will also add the use of affect (a verb) and effect (usually a noun, but can be used as a verb).
Long ago when the Captain and I were in a pub and a couple at the next table invited us to play shuffleboard with them, I said I had never played it before. The man came over to me, draped his arm over my shoulder and placed his hand on the back of my hand as I held one of the “pucks,” meaning to guide my hand as I slid the puck.
“Let me give you some advice (noun),” he said.
At this point the captain came over and said to the man, “I advise (verb) you to take your hands off her.”
This had the desired effect (noun) and the man moved away. How did this affect (verb) the rest of the game? Not at all. If you want to effect (here it is a verb) change, sometimes you have to speak up to get the effect (noun) you want. It need not affect (verb) the mood in the room at all.
Whew! That was hard work. I think I need to go LIE (not LAY) down.