From the Editor’s Desk: Commonly confused words – Just one letter can make all the difference
Published on April 16th, 2010 by Liz Smith
It may seem like a minor typo, but one letter can completely change the meaning of a word. For example, is your company hosting the Premier Awards in Copyediting (as in the top awards), or the Premiere Awards in Copyediting (as in the first)?
The Marketwire editorial team often encounters such mistakes. Here are some of the most common:
- First/highest in rank; chief or head of an organization
- Escaping the cold weather was the principal reason the Thompsons moved to Florida.
- Rules of conduct; morals
- “The Elements of Style” outlines certain principles of grammar.
- Something that completes or goes well with
- Bob always felt red wine was the perfect complement to steak.
- An expression of admiration (and on that note, “complimentary” is not only the expression of a compliment, but also something that is given away for free)
- We complimented Mary on her hat; it was complimentary at a convention, she said.
- To agree to something; to take
- The Nobel Prize winner accepted her award graciously
- Tom will eat anything, except potatoes.
- To make sure
- Molly wanted to ensure that the basement did not flood again, so she bought waterproof tiles.
- To provide/obtain insurance
- The art collector sought to insure his Picasso for half a million dollars, only to find it was a fake.
- To give a title or lay claim to something
- Because of the film’s immense popularity, the actor felt entitled to more pay and publicity.
- Having a title
- Paula got stage fright right before her presentation, which was titled, “Six Ways to Gain Confidence in Public Speaking.”
- To act on, to create a change in something. Think of it as a verb
- Eating all the leftover candy before bed affected the children’s ability to sleep.
- Result. Think of it as a noun
- The effects of gamma radiation are clearly demonstrated by the Incredible Hulk.
If you’re in the middle of writing a release (or proofing one), and you’re scratching your head wondering if the right word has been used, www.dictionary.com is a useful tool for looking up definitions. The sample sentences are a great way to judge if you’re using the word correctly. Grammar Girl provides helpful tips on all-things-grammar – from textbook rules to colloquialisms. You can also test your skill level by taking the Commonly Confused Words Quiz to see how you stack up.
But say you’re not a former English major, and this is all Greek to you. No worries — the grammar enthusiasts in Marketwire Editorial are always on the lookout for these commonly confused words!
Tags: commonly confused words