Easily Confused Words: Fax vs. Facts

Fax and facts 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.

Facts (pronounced “fakts”) is a plural noun. It means information is truthful and provable via individual testimony, via documentation, or media footage (CCTV, video, film, etc.), or all of the above.

Fax (pronounced “faks”) is slang for facsimile. It’s a noun. A facsimile is a photocopy of a document electronically transmitted over phone lines. Back in the 1980s-1990s, the fax machine was a staple in every US office.

TRIVIA: A punny sign took off during the 1980s-1990s said “Just the Fax, ma’am.” This was a spoof on a famous catchphrase from the 1950s detective show Dragnet. When Detective Joe Friday was investigating a case, the distraught client would go off on a tangent. He would counter with, “Just the Facts, Ma’am.”

Today fax machines still exist in some workplaces, but they have mostly been replaced by e-documents and online services.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Phyllicia was afraid her account had been compromised at an online store. She called customer service for help. They requested she fill out some information on their site, then fax some supporting documentation, like a scanned image of a photo ID. 

“Excuse me, fax? Is this 1989?” she asked.

“No, there’s faxing services online. We’ll be waiting for your information.” the customer service rep said.

Easily Confused Words: Bassoon vs. Basinette

Bassinet and bassoon 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.

Bassinet (pronounced “b-ass-ihnet”) is a noun. It means a woven basket crib, with a half-dome cover, used by newborn babies. The cover shields he babies’ face so it’s easier for them to sleep.

Bassoon (pronounced “b-ass-oohn”) is a noun. It means a baritone member of the woodwind instrument family. It’s known for its long cylinder body and curvy mouthpiece at one end.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Basia was sure she would have to pawn her bassoon in order to pay for a bassinet and other things for the baby. It was going to be really hard to do given how much she loved being in a band that played 1920s and other anachronistic music.

Much to her surprise, her bandmates and friends surprised her with a shower party. Some gave cash, others donated items from their families that were not being used. 

Easily Confused Words: Chorale vs. Corral

Chorale and corral are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are pronounced differently and mean different things.

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.

Chorale (pronounced “kuhral”) means a group that sings religious or church songs. It can also mean a hymn with a lot of harmonies to it.

Corral (pronounced “kuhral”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it is an enclosure for domestic grazing animals: horses, cows, goats, and sheep.
  • As a verb, it means to form a circle of vehicles for defense.
  • As a verb, it can mean to collect, garner, or gather items together.

The following story uses both words correctly:

From the time they were small, twin brothers Klaus and Kristof used kulnings to get their family’s animals into a corral each day. This was great practice for being a part of a Lutheran chorale group later in life.

Easily Confused Words: Entice vs. Incite

Entice and incite 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.

Entice (pronounced “en-teye-ss”) is a verb. It means to appeal, to allure, to create desire in someone. For example, chain restaurants might pump the smells of their kitchen out to the parking lot in order to entice passing drivers to feel the urge to come eat their food.

Incite (pronounced “en-site”) is a verb. It means to trigger, to inspire, to influence someone or a creature into action. For example, a pet dog might be incited to jumping when their owner reaches for a leash.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was a year with so much to be thankful for. After an anxious couple of years, Ina learned in September she was cancer-free. She was ready to celebrate.

This holiday season, she prepared a scrumptious feast for her whole family to entice their taste buds. She had also found unique gifts for each of her five little grandchildren. She hoped the toys wouldn’t incite jealousy and fighting. 

 This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Insight vs. Incite.

Easily Confused Words: Brazen vs. Braise

Brazen and braise 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.

Brazen (pronounced “breh-zen”) is an adjective. It means bold, or audacious.

Braise (pronounced “brehys”) is a verb. It means to brown meat in liquid.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In a TV cooking contest, judges thought Braden was brazen for opting to braise his ground beef in chai tea before adding it to the rest of his chili dish. 

Easily Confused Words: Won vs. One

Won and One 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.

Won (pronounced “wuhn”) is the past tense of the verb win. It means to achieve the defeat an opponent or opponents in sport, battle, or other competition.

One (pronounced “wuhn”) is a noun.

  • It is the word for the number “1.”
  • It can mean a single object or thing.
  • It can also be used by itself to mean someone in hypothetical examples, like: “Should one need more time to complete the test, please ask the instructor.” This “one” is used in place of “you.”

The following story uses both words correctly:

Wanda couldn’t believe it: that one spectacular day she had dreamed about was finally here. After many losing seasons, her team had finally won a game against their biggest rival. They had worked so hard for this.

Easily Confused Words: Cloths vs. Clothes

Cloths and clothes 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.

Cloths (“klawths”) is the plural form of cloth. A cloth can be a piece of fabric. It can also mean a washcloth or towel used for bathing or cleaning furniture.

Clothes (“klohz”) is a noun. It means any fabric item worn to dress the body, i.e., shirts, pants, suits, skirts, or dresses.

Clothes (“kloh-thz”) is a verb. It means to provide clothing for, via purchase, or via industry, or earning wages.

So how do you know when it’s the noun clothes, and when it’s the verb clothes? The context of the sentence, or the rest of the words.

  • If the word is performing the action, it’s the verb clothes.
  • If it’s the subject or the object of the action, it’s the noun clothes.

[What’s incredible to me is that, with experience reading and reading aloud, our brains learn to deduce word tense choices without missing a beat. What clothes are you wearing in the morning? Which designer clothes your favorite actress at this year’s Oscars? Neat, huh?]

The following story uses both words correctly:

Clothilde ran a number of businesses. She owned a cafe, a hair salon, and she was a clothes designer. To reduce waste from her designs, she made cleaning cloths from the scraps.

She was immensely proud to be an independent women, the kind who feeds and clothes her family without financial assistance. Knowing she was lucky in this respect, she felt it was important to give back to young women in her community, mentoring them, and nurturing their careers.