How to Write Like You Know What You’re Doing, Volume IV

illustration of the number four
By Karen Sommerfeld |

In volumes I through III of this series, we focused on learning some grammar tricks, but today we’re going to polish up our spelling. (Although this is also just a little lesson on grammar in and of itself: Spelling and grammar are NOT the same. So, next time you correct someone’s spelling and you get called the grammar police, you can point out that you are, in fact, the spelling police.)

And speaking of social media, this is where I most often find the errors below. And while social media is supposed to be fun, as we all know, sometimes we take it pretty seriously. No matter where your writing shows up, if you want to write like you know what you’re doing, here are some tips for how to remember the right way to spell these words.


“I love being apart of your life.”

Thanks. I love being A PART of yours, too. Apart means separated. “She ripped our friendship apart when she spelled ‘a part’ incorrectly,” for example. (That is not true. While I love good spelling and grammar, I’d never end a friendship over it.)

A part means part of something. “Striving for good grammar is a part of me.”

Here’s a tip for knowing which one to use, which I got from If you’re struggling with whether it’s apart or a part, take away the “a.” Does the sentence still make sense? If it does, you keep that space between “a” and “part.”

“Good grammar is part of me.” Sure, that makes sense. Must be a part.

“I miss you when we’re part.” Hm. Nope. Must be apart.

Now that we’ll never be apart on this issue, let’s move on to something a lot of people do.


It isn’t a word. Not now, not ever. A lot. Always two words. Always. I know that’s a lot to take in. (Now, there is a similar-sounding word with a different spelling: allot. It means to assign a portion. “I allot a lot of understanding when it comes to knowing English has a lot of rules.”)

The way to remember if it’s alot or a lot? Remember that alot is not a word. Simple as that.


No man is an aisleland. But man, do I see a lot of social posts about the grocery store isleIsle is another word for island. You know, that thing Tom Hanks’s character was stuck on in the movie with the volleyball? An aisle is what you walk down in the grocery store. It’s also the thing you march down to get married. The movie theater has them, too.

The best way to remember this is to remember isle just means island (and they both start with the letter “i”). Otherwise, it’s an aisle. Are you talking about walking down the island to get your groceries? (Although I guess things can get confusing if your wedding is on an island! Still, you’d walk down the aisle on the isle.)

Those are my tips for today. If you have a grammar or spelling issue that’s always vexed you, write to me, and I’ll address your concern in a future post!

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