I have conducted an... ahem... careful study of a broad swath of fanfic over the last several weeks, and here are some pairs of words I would like you to be sure you know the difference between.
discreet, discrete: You almost always mean "discreet". Secret? Discreet.
palate, palette: The first is the one in someone's mouth. Google doesn't actually back me up on this one, but I know it to be so. Is this a British/American English distinction I was previously unaware of? Please advise.
prone, supine: Just look it up. No more bizarre sexual positions because you flipped one of the characters over, thank you.
compliment, complement: I think this is perhaps the trickiest one on my list. Flattery? A compliment. But a shirt that flatters you may complement your eyes, meaning perfecting your look. Careful!
principle, principal: Morals are principles. The main something is the principal something.
illicit, elicit: Is it sekrit and naughty? Use the first one. Is it a verb? Use the second one.
Oh, just look it up:
- taut, taunt
- breath, breathe
- loath, loathe
- baring, barring
- bound, bond
dominate, dominant: I don't even understand where this comes from, but it's really common. Dominate is a verb. Dominant is an adjective or noun. There is no such thing as "the dominate" in a scene or relationship. No really.
And please, for the love of all that is holy or unholy, learn the difference between
prostate, prostrate: The fun thing for men having anal sex? Only one "r".
EDIT: tongue tongue tongue Accept no substitutes. (courtesy of kjc)
baited/bated: Breath is bated. Traps are baited.
rein/reign: Oh, where to begin. Horses are controlled with reins. Kings reign. The idiom is rein in your emotions. No really. (these two pairs courtesy of calanthe_fics)