1. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Commonly Confused Homonyms

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Bay K., Mar 30, 2011.

    This might sound like a game, but it isn't.
    It's edifying to the writing process and helps with vocabulary, grammar and spelling.

    Point out some that you know --with brief clarifications-- for our benefit.
    E.g:
    Dear --reference of affection
    Dear --expensive
    Deer --animal
    Dare --strong call / move to do something bold
    ------------------------------------------------
    Evoke --provoke; arouse
    Invoke --enforce; request

    Mmm ... I guess it does look like a game, but it isn't meant to be.
    If this doesn't fit in here, can a MOD please move it to the 'word games' section.
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    The mistakes I see the most (I think) are these:

    Everyday vs. every day. Corporations get this wrong all the time. I even saw this once in a published book (which was a fine read, even with the problems).
    Everyday: an adjective meaning a common thing.
    Every day: something that occurs daily

    Ensure vs. insure:
    Insure: to put insurance on something.
    Ensure: to make sure of.

    I'll see if I can find more.
     
  3. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Ah!
    Thanks for the 'everyday / every day' clarification.
    I've been misusing them --a lot.

    Hey, 'alot / a lot', any difference?

    A little ashamed, but I just recently learned the difference between:
    Aisle --walkway or passage
    Isle --island
    (LOL! :( )
     
  4. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Guerilla --irregular mercenary soldiers
    Gorilla --ape animal
     
  5. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    There - a direction
    Their - belonging to a group of people
    They're - They are
     
  6. bekajoi
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    bekajoi Senior Member

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    Assure: to confirm
    Usher: to guide another

    alot: not actually a word.
    a lot: frequently, or a place
    allot: divide/distribute

    two: a couple things, number
    to: indicating some thing/place: going to the store
    too: also

    I mixed these up recently...
    councilor: member of a council
    counselor: person who councels, advisor

    lightening: to lighten something
    lightning: electricity bolts streaking the sky

    I'm sure I can think of more...
     
  7. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Principle - code of ethics, conduct or somesuch
    Principal - initial investment
    Principal - leader, chief or overseer
    Principal - primary fighter, as opposed to the second (backup)
     
  8. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    There are lists of these common confused words (affect/effect; waist/waste comes to mind)
    Off topic, but somewhat related, are words spelled the same but meaning and pronounced differently:
    wound (past tense of to wind versus injury)
    refuge - produce - etc. I used to have sentences where the word is used twice with both different meanings. ("I wound the bandage around the wound on my leg")
     
  9. bekajoi
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    bekajoi Senior Member

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    bear: animal
    bear: carry (emotional burden, as well as physical items)
    bear: give birth to
    bare: naked

    bore: past tense of bear (carry, give birth)
    bore: to invoke boredom
    bore: to pierce through something (drill)
    boar: animal

    bored: boredom, yawn.
    bored: past tense of bore (to pierce)
    board: wood
    board: walk/climb onto (boat/plane)
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    loose - not tight
    lose - antonym of find

    copy writing - generating advertising/marketing text
    copyrighting - protecting your intellectual property
     
  11. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Affect: Change something (i.e. the posionous food affected my health)
    Effect: Time (My final exam will be in effect at the end of April.

    There: A place where something is (The Pepsi can is right over there)
    Their: Possession (Their driver's license is about to expire)

    Can: An plastic object (The Pepsi can)
    Can: The ability to do something (I can do this by myself)

    Read: The present tense read.

    Read: The past tense for read.

    A way: An alternative of something. (Typing online is a way to make friends).
    Away: Distance (I am five miles away from school).
     
  12. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    Wow!
    Didn't know about 'copy writing' until now.
    (Thought it was just making copies of a document).

    Thanks MODs for moving the discussion to the appropriate forum.


    -----------------------------------------------------
    Be good, wise and strong
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not quite true. Boring doesn't require that you pierce through something. In fact, if you want to pierce through something then you are more likely to drill because it's usually easier and would produce the same result. As one of my engineering lecturers liked to point out, the difference between boring and drilling is that boring produces a flat bottom. :)
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't imagine anybody using "Effect" that way. Maybe "The legislation will be in effect by the end of April". "Effect" isn't usually about time, it's about causing or bringing about. In the combination of "in effect" has the alternative meanings of "in force" and "effectively".
    Reading: present participle of "read" (pronounced "reeding".
    Reading: Town to the west of London, England (pronounced "redding").
     
  15. bekajoi
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    bekajoi Senior Member

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    Lol, yes, but it was a simple way to say which "bore" should be used for that general purpose. ;)

    tea: drink
    tea: type of rose
    tee: short way to say tee-shirt (or T-shirt, since it was named for its shape)
    tee: small thing your golf ball sits on when you first start a hole

    always: constantly
    all ways: in every way

    They keep coming to me. (and that makes me think of the different meanings for a certain word in this sentence that I won't go into on a child-friendly board, haha)
     
  16. abelsaywell
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    abelsaywell Member

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    I agree.
    As an aside:
    My first job was as a semiconductor engineer. On my first day my boss, Dr C, called me over and said, "look at this!" He had the Yellow Pages open at the heading "Boring" under which it said "see Civil Engineering page xxx." Apparently, he had been cracking that joke for about 25 years since his PhD as some electrical engineer vs civil engineer thing which kind of begs the question of whether the pot was calling the kettle black. I'm glad I don't hang out with Engineers so much these days. :)
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually. affect/effect is a bit more complicated than that:

    Effect (noun) - the outcome of a cause
    Effect (verb) - to bring about
    Affect (transitive verb) - to influence the object of the verb
    Affect (noun, principally in psychology) - mood or disposition (accent on first syllable)
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can: Slang term for "toilet".
     
  19. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Can means also to nix something. "The baby's asleep. Can the loud talking, please."
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'can' as in 'drink containers' used to mean tin ones, then aluminum... i don't know of any that are made from plastic that aren't shaped as and called 'bottles'...

    'can' can also mean:

    fire someone from a job
    a film cannister, as in 'it's in the can' [= 'wrapped up/completed']

    but, while 'tee/tea' and 'to/too/two' are homonyms, words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings are not...
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Strictly speaking, homophones are words which are both homographs (same spelling) and homophones (sound the same). Somewhat looser usage accepts homonyms as either homographs or homophones.

    For this thread, I think an even broader interpretation is okay, which is to say generally similar words that are frequently misused in place of the other.

    But I agree that it's pointless to enumerate secondary definitions that are not generally confused, as in the various other meanings of 'can'.

    Let's try to keep the thread focused on common usage mistakes between very similar words.

    For example, although continuous and continual are not homonyms by any reasonable definition, they are often confused.

    continuous: operating without interuption.
    continual: repeating on an ongoing basis
     
  22. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    What's the difference between alright and all right? The paper clip in Microsoft Office goes haywire when I try to use those words. It told me this was how to use it:
    "Are you feeling all right?"
    "Alright, let's go!"
    Is alright just an expression then, or can it be used in the same sense as the first example, like for a state of wellbeing?
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    According to the Oxford Style Manual it is only ever "all right", never "alright" or "all-right".
     
  24. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'm not sure if you could actually call this a homonym because people get it wrong orally, not when writing, and it doesn't sound the same or is spelled the same:

    When people mean asterisk (a star symbol), they say Asterix (a character from a French cartoon). I've never heard anyone pronounce asterisk properly.
     
  25. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    One I've somehow been un-learning:

    peel -> to remove a peel
    peal -> to ring loudly
     

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