Confusing Words

A few weeks ago, a blog post went over several words that are frequently confused by writers (See More Confusing Words!). Here are a few more:

casual – informal
causal – causingcereal killer

cereal – breakfast food
serial – a series

choose – to select
chose – did choose (past tense of choose)

cite – to quote
site – a place
sight – to see

click – a slight, sharp sound
clique – an exclusive group
cliché – a trite phrase

collision – coming violently together
collusion – fraudulent scheme

complement – something that goes well with something
compliment – a flattering remark

council – a body of persons specially designated or selected for a purpose
counsel – an attorney; to give advice
consul – a foreign representative

cue – hint
queue – a line, especially people waiting their turn

dairy – cows and milking equipment
diary – a journal of daily activities

It’s always important to make sure you are using the same words, particularly when they are easily confused. Take the time to look up definitions if necessary to make sure you are using the correct word.

 

Search and Replace or Search and Destroy

We all know that word processing software comes with many useful features. There is a danger, however, in depending too much on the software. Here are some examples:

  • Spell check. As I’ve mentioned before, spell check absolutely has its uses, but is not the only (or necessarily the best) proofreading method. One example I’ve given before is “doe snot” instead of “does not.” They are both spelled correctly, but one is definitely not correct. Do not rely exclusively on spell check.
  • Grammar check. This feature is useful for catching some issues, but cannot possibly be accurate with every grammar resource, so be careful not to just accept all of the software’s “advice.”

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  • Search and replace. While this certainly has its place in searching and replacing something like a misspelled name, you must be very careful using global search and replace. Think about the danger–say you wanted to search for the word “plain” and replace it with the word “normal.” The issue appears where other words might contain the search term. For instance, in this case, if your document included the word “plaintiff,” the global search and replace would change that word to “normaltiff.” While entertaining, that is obviously not correct. If you want to use search and replace, you should review the suggested replacements before they are made.

These suggestions may not make your writing easier, but it should help you be more accurate from the beginning of the process.

Grammar Giggle – Year of the HORSE

I found this one on Twitter. The typist on this news headline apparently had his or her mind somewhere else when the dictation got to “Year of the Horse.”

Year of the HORSE

Grammar Giggle – Recipe Rock

I found this one while shopping with friends. Not only should “hand written” be one word, but they’ve actually managed to accomplish my number one pet peeve and used an apostrophe for a plural.

Recipe Rock

Grammar Giggle – Superbowl Pool

Found this one on Twitter.  It starts off well, but it looks like they saved all of their errors for the last sentence. Must be an interesting closet they have for the when-ner.

Superbowl apt