Maybe it’s because I visit forums too much, but I see words used wrong all. the. time.
Hm. I’m thinking there shouldn’t be a “maybe” in that sentence. Anyway, while using words in an incorrect, yet socially accepted manner isn’t a bad thing, although it might push people’s editorial Berserk Buttons. Will misusing them cause dismissal by an agent/editor/publisher? Probably not. But then, what do I know? It’s not like I’ve been published.
This is one of those that’s easy to confuse because of similar spellings rather than misinterpretation. Perpetrate is to act, while to perpetuate is to continue forever. But switch that u for an r and boom! Wrong word.
I have to admit: this one drives me crazy. And I have no idea why. I guess I’m annoying like that. But hopefully means “in a manner full of hope” and people tend to use it in sentences like “Hopefully no one figures out I’m slowly poisoning them with arsenic.” If you put in a synonym like confidently, surely or optimistically, the sentence descends into meaninglessness. It would be more correct to say “with luck” or “I hope”. Then I can sleep at night because a word wasn’t misused.
I’m actually much better at using this word than I used to be. The rule that helped me is that you yourself lie down, but you lay something else down. This is really confusing because the past tense of lie is, wait for it, lay. Yes, “An hour ago, he lay down and went to sleep” is correct, at least in the past tense. Note that this is only for the recline sense of lie. For the untruth sense, of course this rule doesn’t apply because that would make things slightly easier.
I’m sure we could go to the Online Etymology Dictionary and find out that these two words are related. However, as they are used today in the English language, they are slightly different. Perverse is more doing something that is wrong on purpose, like saying “I’m going to lay down” when you’ve just read the above paragraph. If any of you are parents of teenagers, think of pretty much anything they’ve said to you ever. Perverted on the other hand has a more negative connotation. Perverse may be willful wrongness, but perverted is completely twisted against all that we know is right.
Obviously, people don’t confuse these two subjects. They do, however, confuse the spelling. I check my manuscripts for each of these because at least once per book I’ve messed them up. I blame my left middle finger. It should know that being shocked isn’t caused by lightening but it presses that “e” anyway.
Overall, this probably doesn’t matter much. Language evolves the way it wants to. Or rather, the way we want it to. Maybe I should start driving a word differently and see if it catches on.