Ok then people. I know this is a world of fanfiction, and I am by no means a Grammar Nazi. HOWEVER! There are a few things that will help keep me from wanting to poke my eyes out as I read your story. It will also give you a more professional look and keep other readers from getting confused or giving up. Key, basic elements here. And if I come across as mean, I am sorry. But it is for your own good. Plus, it'll help with your college/highschool writing.
1. Vial vs. Vile vs. Veil: A vial is a container, most often used to hold a small quantity of medicine/poison/blood, etc. Veil is a covering, often see-through and worn over the face. Vile is nasty, evil, as in "That vial is full of vile medicine!" "That doesn't mean you should have dumped it on my veil!"
2. You're vs. Your: You're is You Are with an apostrophe. If you would not use you are, then do not use you're. Your is possessive, as in, "Your dog is brown", unlike "You're a brown dog." See the difference?
3. There vs. Their vs. They're: There refers to a place. Their refers to a possession of "them" or "they". They're is They Are with an apostrophe. "There in the hollow is where they have their party. They're pretty fun folk."
4. Capitalize. Really. One of the best ways to ensure I never read your fanfic? have your title and entire description like this. it tells me that you are 99.9% likely to have been far too lazy to bother with comprehensible grammar, either.
5. Or vs. Nor: Either and or, neither and nor. Simple, no?
6. To vs. Too vs. Two: Truly, y'all. Two is a number, and ONLY a number. Too indicates 'also', while to is for someone or indicates an action. So, "I want to go too!" Versus, "This present is given to" or "I am going to go skiing".
7. Morning vs Mourning: Morning is the early part of the day, before noon or before lunchtime. "I alway go on a run in the morning." Mourning is to be sad, especially because someone died. "He is mourning his dead friend." True, there can be a period of mourning which can take place for a set time, but the terms are not interchangeable. Courtesy of Acolyte of the Blood Moon, thank you!
8: Fowl vs. Foul: A Fowl is a bird of some kind. "What sort of water fowl is that?" "It's a duck!" Foul is something disgusting, vile, as in "You foul creature of Sauron, die." Also used as a term in sports, "You shouldn't get so many fouls, you're costing us points."
9. Feat vs. Feet: Feet- as in, those things you walk on. Also a measurement really only used in the US of A, and don't ask me why since the rest of the world uses the metric system. Feat- performance of some difficulty, "The feat of climbing Mount Everest requires your feet to walk many, many feet." Again, thanks to Acolyte of the Blood Moon.
10. Loose vs. Lose vs. Loss: To Lose something means to no longer have possession of it. "Did you lose your sunglasses?" Loose on the other hand, is a description "My tooth is loose" "Something got loose". It is no longer attached or controlled. Lose means I cannot find, Loose means something isn't tight or properly maintained. Got it? Loss is something different. "I am sorry for your loss." It may mean that I did indeed lose something (or someone), but Loss is a description of mourning after the losing.
11. Affect vs. Effect: This is a tad tricky. Affect, "to influence", is a verb, as in "The rain affects flowers." What does the rain do? It Affects. Break, Effect, "a result", is a noun, as in "The effect is a bounty of blooms." Bounty of blooms is the result. Effect is. Now, there are a few other meanings. For example, one can affect a happy attitude, that is, appear to/pretend. Thanks to BritLitChick for this one!
12. Rein vs. Reign: Is it free reign or free rein? Technically, it is Rein for this saying, although it both have been used so much that I at least won't fault you for using either, and Oxford University Press agrees as of 2007. Just try to stick with only one, okay? On the other hand, Rein belongs to horses. "Hold the reins, please." It also means to control, as in "Rein in your enthusiasm just a tad." The other one, Reign, refers to power, royalty. "Her reign was a long and good one." This refers to the length of time that she (we'll just say Queen Victoria for kicks) was in power. If I said "Her rein was a long and good one, I had better be talking about riding equipment. Again, many thanks to BritLitChick for this!
12b. Rain: This is the actual water falling from the sky. "It seemed as though the sky gods had given free rein to the storm, it rained all week."
At this rate, I'm going to have to just write a fanfic grammar/spelling guide.
13. Week vs. Weak: Spelled with double e, 'Week' is a measurement of time. 7 days to be exact. "One week from now I'll be in Puerto Rico". Weak is the opposite of strong, that is, lacking in strength. "I'm feeling very weak". Courtesy of Acolyte of the Blood Moon.
14. Then vs. Than: The word "then" indicates a time. Example, "I would rather ride the roller coaster, then eat." I would rather eat after I ride the roller coaster, "then" indicating a sequence of events. This and then that. The word "than" indicates a preference. "I would rather ride the roller coaster than eat." I am saying here that riding is preferable to eating.
15. Formerly vs. Formally: The word 'Formerly' indicates a previous point in time. "Formerly, he was the CEO of an advertising agency. Now, he just fishes." Formerly is a form of 'former', as in 'previous'. On the other hand, 'Formally' means something done in a formal, proper, and polite manner. "He greeted everyone formally each morning." Formally is a form of 'formal' and is kin to 'formality/formalities'.
16. Piece vs. Peace: Please note that 'Piece is not exempt from the 'i before e' rule, and that it refers to a part of something, "a piece of the pie". 'Peace', on the other hand, refers to a state of tranquility/calm, without war, etc. "Peace begins with a smile" (Mother Teresa). Courtesy of Acolyte of the Blood Moon.
17. Exempt vs. Except vs. Accept: This is a bit tricky. Exempt, meaning without an obligation applied to others. "Alice is exempt from the make-up test because she got an A on the original." The word except, while having a similar meaning, is used differently. "In a family of blonde haired, blue-eyed people, Adam's black hair and grey eyes are the exception." The best way I have found to differentiate uses is that Exempt is used in an official capacity, meaning that there is a regulation behind it. Accept is completely different, meaning to take or receive. "Carolyn accepted the invitation."
18. Chocked vs. Choked: The word "chocked" refers to the action of placing a wedge of wood in position to keep something from moving, for example, dry-docking a boat or using a door-stop. "I chocked the RV, of course." "Then why is it rolling away?" On the other hand, "choked" is what happens when something is obstructing one's breathing abilities. "I nearly choked on the artichokes, mum." Think of it like this: Chock and Dock, Choke and Artichoke.
19. Solider vs. Soldier: The word "solider" is a form of the word solid, meaning not in a liquid or gaseous form. The word "Soldier" refers to someone in a military occupation. They fight. They have guns. And yes, they are generally not in a liquid state, but they are not 'soliders'.
20. Definitely: This is how the word is spelled. There is no 'a' in definite.
21. Savior vs. Saviour: The definition is roughly "Someone who saves someone from danger". People use this word a great deal in HP fics, but tend to misspell it. For my fellow 'Muricans, it is spelled "savior". No extra letters. For those across the pond, and to keep the HP stories properly 'Briticized', it is spelled "Saviour". Please note the 'ou' combination, a primary difference between American and British spellings. On the other hand, it is NOT spelled "savoir", which is French for "to know".
22. Definitely vs. Defiantly: A common misspelling, people very often use "defiantly" in place of "definitely". Definitely means for certain, absolutely. "I will definitely need to eat a snack before dinner". Defiantly means standing against something, a rebellion of sorts. "The men defiantly stood against the forces of evil".
Another very important point unrelated to grammar: Author's notes belong at the TOP or Bottom of the page, not in the middle (author's note: Fairly obvious information that if truly necessary could have been put at the bottom instead of disrupting story flow) of the dadgum sentence. Please, I beg of you. Once again, I'm no Grammar Nazi, but this is sheer stupidity that sends me into a rage. If there truly is information that should be communicated in the middle of the story, then a simple , #, or number at that point and then a corresponding note at the bottom will suffice.
23. For the love of sanity, it is spelled SHIELD. This goes for both the military item AND the organization from Marvel comics. I BEFORE E except AFTER C, guys. Please.
I borrowed this from Antigone1Evenstar, a wonderful writer.