Easily Confused Words: Trimester vs. Semester

Trimester and semester are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Trimester is a noun. It means a 3-month period.

Human pregnancy lasts nine months, which are divided into three trimesters. Each trimester involves developmental milestones. Click here to read more.

[The prefix “tri-” typically means “three” in many English words: A trident is a tool with three tines. A triangle is a shape with three sides. A tri-county area involves three US counties where the population density is high; people move within those three counties to live, work, and play. Tri-county areas can cross state lines.]

Semester is a noun. It means a 15 to 18 week period of time making up half a school year in US public schools. Private schools and foreign schools have different practices for school terms.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Thijs had just finished his final semester at college when he learned that his fiancé was expecting. She was three weeks into her first trimester. It was proving difficult to find a residency in dentistry in a slow economy. So he took a position in his family’s flower and landscaping business. He would remain there for 10 years. 

Easily Confused Words: Charge vs. Change

Charge and change are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Charge (chuh-arr-juh) is a verb.

  • It can mean to run and confront an opponent, a sports goal line, or some physical adversity. Figuratively, it can mean leading an effort against a person or point of adversity.
  • Among herding animals, when they run as a group, this is charging.
  • In commerce, it can also mean paying for goods on a credit card. Sometimes credit cards are called charge cards.
  • In law enforcement, it can also mean bringing accusations forward against someone for a court case.

Change (pronounced “chuh-ehn-juh) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to move from one appearance or position to another. To transform, to diverge, to alternate. To do something different, to be something different from a previous state.
  • As a noun, it means the money due to someone who paid a fee with a much larger bill. For instance, If a bill was $15 and someone paid $20, he/she would be due $5  in change.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Chauncey was feeling bored. She decided her wardrobe needed a change. She didn’t want to charge the items to her card, so she stopped by the bank to withdraw some cash.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Changes vs. Chances.

Easily Confused Words: Sly vs. Slay

Sly and slay are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Sly (pronounced “sl-eye”) is an adjective. It means clever, cunning, or calculating. For example, in many folk tales, foxes have a sly nature.

Slay (pronounced “sl-eh”) is a verb. It means to kill, especially in a particularly heinous or brutal fashion, or killing many people versus one person. The past tense is slew, the past participle is slain.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sylvia was a very sly detective but she disguised it well. She often came across casual and unassuming. People would tell her more than they should have. Her latest case involved an executive assistant, who was found slain in an alley. The accused was the man who accompanied her to a nearby club, but he didn’t seem to know much about her. Clearly they hadn’t been in a relationship. 

After weeks of investigating and asking around, she realized who the perpetrator was. The man had physically killed the assistant, but he was a hired hand for someone else. It had to be the boss, a matchmaker to busy, affluent types. Either the two had been having an affair, and the assistant had threatened to expose the story to the media. Or the assistant knew too much about finances or other problems and threatened to expose those issues to a wider audience.

Easily Confused Words: You’re vs. Yore

You’re and Yore are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

You’re (pronounced “yoo-uhr”) is a contraction of the phrase “You are.” “You” is a pronoun used when talking directly to someone else, and “are” is the corresponding verb tense of “to be.”

Yore (pronounced “yuh-awr”) is a noun. It is usually used in the phrase “of yore,” meaning, in the days of the distant past.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Yuri was often told, “You know, you’re not a typical teenager.” He loved to read and write stories. He found it easier to relate to historical figures of yore than his classmates.

After hearing this one too many times, he responded, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Easily Confused Words: Coddling vs. Cuddling

Coddling and cuddling are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Coddling (pronounced “kawd-dlihng”) is a gerund form of the verb coddle. To coddle means when one person treats another in a diminutive, patronizing, or babying way. When a superior doesn’t reprimand bad behavior or try to correct it, this is coddling.

Cuddling (pronounced “kuhd-dlihng”) is a gerund form of the verb cuddle. To cuddle means to cradle a person or creature in one’s arms, or for people to lie close together in a resting embrace fashion.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Codaye found a stray puppy he named Radko. The two quickly hit it off, taking long walks in the forest, and cuddling on the couch in front of the TV many evenings. Radko was a sweet dog, but not a quick learner. Codaye’s girlfriend, Cicely, accused him of coddling the dog instead of being the firm disciplinarian the dog needed. 

Easily Confused Words: Been vs. Bean

Been and bean are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Been (pronounced US: “beh-n”, UK: “bee-n”) is a verb, it’s the past tense of “be.” “Be” is used to indicate someone’s status right now, while “been” indicates status over a long period, or a former status.

For example: It’s been a long time since we last saw other. She’s always been outgoing.

Bean (pronounced “bee-n”) is a noun. It means legumes, or a plant-based food noted for growing seeds in pods. Sometimes the seeds and pods are consumed, sometimes just the seeds.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bente converted to a mostly vegetarian diet. In just a few weeks, she noticed how much more energy she had after consuming veggies and beans versus bread. She also noticed her clothes were getting loose. She wasn’t as heavy as she had been just two months ago.

Easily Confused Words: Sconce vs. Scone

Sconce and Scone are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Sconce (pronounced “skuh-awn-ts”) is a noun. It means a light fixture or lamp mounted on the wall of a stairway or stairwell. Their purpose is to light the stairs at night or in low light conditions, but they are also decorative.

Scone (two pronunciations: “skuh-own” and “skuh-awn-ts”) is a noun. It means a breakfast quickbread originating in the UK. Scones have a variety of textures: some are dry and somewhat crunchy like a shortbread cookie, others a soft and moist like a muffin or cake.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Scott was helping out his grandparents around their house. Today’s task was picking up the new sconces for the stairways. The store wasn’t close by, so his grandma gave him a Coke and a couple pumpkin scones to snack on for the road.