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The parody of the misuse of words

September 8th, 2017

The mechanics of the English language can sometimes leave you reeling, your or you’re, advice or advise – we’ve put together a list of the most common words that are often used incorrectly, so you can get it right.

Words

 

Advise and advice

Advise is a verb meaning ‘to offer an opinion or suggestion’. Advice is a noun meaning ‘a recommendation offered as a guide to action’.

 

Your and You’re

Your shows that something belongs to you or is related to you i.e. your car, your house etc. You’re is an abbreviation for ‘you are’.

 

Stationary and stationery

Stationary means ‘fixed on one place, not moving’. Stationery is materials used in writing such as paper, pens, pencils etc.

 

Mute and moot

Mute means ‘making no sound’ and moot means ‘of no importance’.

 

Peak and Peek

Peak means ‘the most extreme possible amount or value’. Peek means ‘a secret look’.

 

Everyday and every day

Everyday is an adjective use to describe things that occur every day, or are ordinary or commonplace. In the two-word phrase every day, the adjective ‘every’ modifies the noun ‘day’ and the phrase usually functions adverbially. For example, every day you eat breakfast. You brush your teeth every day. These are everyday activities.

 

Accept and except

Quite simply, accept is to received and except is to exclude.

 

Adverse and averse

Adverse mean unfavourable or hostile and can never be applied to humans. You often hear it used in the term ‘adverse weather conditions’. Averse means unwilling or disinclined and is always followed by the preposition ‘to’, for example “He is averse to going out in the rain.”

 

Affect and effect

Affect is a verb meaning to influence something, where effect is used for something that was influenced. For example, “that may affect the colour” and “it had a strange effect on them.”

 

Are and our

The word are is the present tense i.e. “You are very good at spelling.”, where our indicates that something belongs to the speaker or one or more other people i.e. “This is our house.”

 

Where and wear

Where is used to indicate a place “Where are we?” and wear has to do with clothes or fatigue “What shall I wear today?”, “Look at the wear and tear on that sofa”.

 

Write and right

Right has various meanings, including correct, fitting, and direct i.e “the right answer”, “turn right”, “the woman on the right”. Write means to mark down coherent words on paper, usually with pen or pencil. Write may also refer to composing a musical work. Related words are writes, wrote, writing, written, writable. 

 

Discreet and discrete

Although these words are pronounced the same way they have very different meanings. Discreet implies the showing of reserve and prudence in one’s behaviour or speech, “You must be very discreet”. Discrete means distinct, separate and unrelated, “This issue is discrete from the others”.

 

Hanger and hangar

A hanger is someone who hangs something, or an item used to hang things. A hangar is a shelter used for housing and maintaining aircraft.

 

Hear and here

Hear is a verb having to do with the ability to perceive sound. “Can you hear me?”. The word here can function as an adverb, adjective, and a noun. All of its uses deal with the location or place of a particular person or thing. “We’ll stop here for lunch”.

 

Hoard and horde

A hoard is an accumulated store or stash. A horde refers to a large crowd. If you have a hoard of something, a horde of people might try to take it from you.

 

Isle and aisle

Although these two words sound the same they have very different meanings. An isle is a mass of land, where an aisle is a passageway between rows.

 

Past and passed

These two words are commonly confused, but once you know the meanings you won’t make the mistake again! Past can be a noun, meaning ‘what has already happened’. Passed is always a verb and is formed by adding -ed to the present tense verb, pass. For example; “It is one day past the deadline.” and “The parade passed the town square.”.

 

Pore and pour

Pore refers to deep meditation or study, whereas pour is what you do with milk over cereal.

 

There, their and they’re

It’s common for these three words to be misused because they all sound the same when spoken. So, what is the difference between them?

 

There

There is the opposite of ‘here’. It means ‘in that place’ not here.

  • A: Where is my pen? – B: It’s over there.
  • I will look for a hotel to stay when I arrive there.

There is/There are = to show that something exists.

  • There is a book on the table
  • There are many countries in Europe.

Their

Their shows possession, that something belongs to them.

 

  • Their friends are nice
  • Their house is big
  • The children put their pencils away

 

They’re

They’re is the abbreviation of they are, i.e. they’re great = they are great.

 

  • They’re going out tonight.
  • They’re nice biscuits.
  • I think they’re wonderful.

 

To and too

These are both commonly confused words but differ greatly in use and meaning.

 

  • We took the train to
  • I would like to go there very much.

 

This should not be confused with too which can be used to describe something being done excessively:

 

  • You’re going too

 

It can also be used in place of ‘also’ or ‘as well’

 

  • I would like some too.

 

Warranty and warrantee

Very similar words but slightly different meanings. A warranty is a guarantee, where a warrantee is a person who is guaranteed something.

 

  • My washing machine has a three-year warranty.
  • You are the warrantee for this appliance.

 

Who’s and whose

Who’s is an abbreviation of who is or who has. Whose is the possessive form of who or which.

 

  • Who’s going to the party next week?
  • Whose birthday is it tomorrow?

 

Which and witch

Which is a pronoun meaning the particular one or ones in a group. A witch is a woman who is believed to have magical powers and puts spells on people.

 

  • Which road shall we take?
  • She is like an old witch.

 

Break and brake

These two words have different meanings, but are pronounced the same. Break means to shatter, to crack or to make unusable. Brake means to use the brake on a vehicle or mechanical device.

 

  • I will break this cookie in half for us to share.
  • I will be taking a break at 1pm.

 

  • Don’t forget to use the brake.
  • I had to press the brake pedal hard to avoid the cat.

 

The English language can be tricky sometimes but hopefully these tips have helped you distinguish and understand when to use words that sound the same but are spelled differently, and can put a completely different meaning to your sentence!

 

Plesilium Ltd offer copywriting services, for more information get in touch! info@plesilium.co.uk / 01920 318202.


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