Commonly Confused


Articles / Commonly Confused

In this episode of Commonly Confused, I’m going to discuss the commonly confused pairs ascent/assent and descent/decent. Although dissent may have seemed a more likely choice, given its meaning, I find it’s not misused nearly as often as decent is in this situation. Let’s start at the bottom. From Merriam-Webster, ascent is the act of ascending or rising; a moving or mounting upward. In layman’s terms,...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Nauseated and Nauseous   Conversation overheard between a snarky editor and her victi—er, author: “Ugh. All these changes! I swear you make me nauseous!” “I make you able to cause nausea? Sweet! I am all-powerful!” “No, jerk, you make me sick.” “Grammatically speaking, then, I make you nauseated.” “Fine. Whatever. You make me nauseated.” “Cool! Now I’m nauseous!” As far as grammar is concerned, the...

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Commonly Confused: Three Common Pairs Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Three Common Pairs   Imply and Infer: Imply and infer are commonly confused because, while they don’t really sound alike, their meanings are tied together like two halves of a whole. Similar to give and take or teach and learn, imply and infer are opposite sides of the same situation. A speaker, writer, or other information-giver implies something that a reader, listener, or...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused Peak, Peek and Pique This group of homophones is a favorite of mine. Mostly because I’m always up for a good laugh and I like editing humor. I’m nerdy like that.  So what trips us up about these words besides the fact that two have spellings that are almost identical and their confuses us because it has a Q in it? (Go on,...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Rain, Reign and Rein It’s funny. The more I write about the English language and the more I try to help elementary students whose first language isn’t English, the more I realize how difficult English is. It’s hard enough for native speakers to keep all the rules straight, let alone someone who is trying to learn English. We have an exception to almost...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Four Less Common Pairs I love words. I get a kick out of twisting a sentence around or subtly shifting its meaning with the replacement of one little word. From passive to aggressive or formal to casual, the switch of a noun or verb can make all the difference in your phrase… or sentence… or paragraph. It’s vital, therefore, to ensure you’re always...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Bare versus Bear By a show of hands, how many still flub up using bare and bear from time to time? I’m relying on your complete honesty here. I promise I won’t call you out on it unless I’m editing your manuscript. 🙂 Why do we mix up bare and bear? It should be straightforward. To paraphrase Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary… BEAR Bear is straightforward...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Complement and Compliment Today’s commonly confused pair is actually not so commonly confused, it just happened to be a pair I saw in something I was working on.  I’m a total word nerd, so I like understanding why we use certain words in one circumstance and certain words in another.  So I researched complement/complementary and compliment/complimentary. According to Merriam-Webster: Complement:  Noun—Something that fills...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Wrack and Rack In our series on commonly confused terms, we’ve come across some very common terms, but this article focuses on a pair of terms that, while commonly confused, aren’t quite a part of everyday speech. The verbs wrack and rack are both transitive verbs, which means they take a direct object. Both words have noun forms, but here I’m just focusing...

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Articles / Commonly Confused

Commonly Confused: Comparatives and Superlatives If you’ve ever been tripped up by when to add –er or –est to a word, can’t remember which one of those pesky irregular adverbs or adjectives is correct or if you should use more or most, have I got the article for you. It seems as though there’s been an increase is this particular arena in advertising, not to mention...

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