Hi Sherlock fandom! I love you! I promise I’m here to help, no judging, I swear (see FN). Please excuse me for being That Asshole just this one time, because this is slowly killing me. 

Adverse ≠ Averse

Complement ≠ Compliment

I don’t know why our lovely fandom in particular seems to struggle with these two distinctions – is it generational? My last fandom was older on average – but they’re important!

Of the examples in the link, the main problem I see in Sherlock fandom with averse/adverse is the use of “adverse” to replace “averse”. One is not generally “adverse to” something; one is “averse to” it. 

With complement/compliment it’s replacing complement with compliment. Clearly my fellow Sherlockians know the meaning of “complement”, but some people don’t know that it should be spelled with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘i’ when you’re using the word to mean “goes well with/brings out the best parts of.” 

And that is all. Please return to your regularly scheduled broadcast. 

FN1: I have to look up poured v. pored every time. Every. Damn. Time. 

I’ll add a few:

bare/bear — It bears repeating:

BARE is only used to refer to ‘bare naked’ and to ‘bare one’s soul.’ BARE is about nudity, exposure, vulnerability. Use this spelling with caution, especially in fics where we might expect someone to get naked (but perhaps not so soon as is suggested when someone writes ‘Bare with me’).

BEAR, on the other hand, is a bit more versatile. There’s the furry creature, the grizzly bear. Then there is to ‘bear one’s burden,’ ‘to bear with me,’ ‘I can’t bear Sherlock’s poor behavior,’ etc.

reign/rein — this one I struggle with

REIGN is a kingdom, or to rule over one. ‘During the long reign of Queen Elizabeth…’ ’In 221B, Sherlock’s will reigns supreme.’

REIN refers to the straps that a rider uses to control a horse. But it is also used metaphorically to refer to controlling someone, as in ‘Sherlock was so excited about the murder, that John had to rein him in.’ 

Two more:


I see people get this one wrong allll the time (so if you do it, it’s far from just you), but these are practically opposites of each other.  To FLAUNT something means to show it off.  To FLOUT something means to reject it (particularly with glee and flamboyance).  Sherlock likes to flaunt his coat, his cheekbones, and his brilliant intellect.  He flouts social conventions and, now and then, the law.

And the killer one I keep running into:


DEDUCT is not the verb form of ‘deduction!’  To deduct means to subtract or remove.  What Sherlock does is DEDUCE things.  If your Sherlock is deducting things at a crime scene, then either he’s become an accountant without telling anybody or somebody needs to talk to him about his pickpocketing habit.  But remember, he says it himself:  ”I observe, and then I deduce.”

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