Easily Confused Words: Scents vs. Since vs. Cents vs. Sense

Scents, since, cents, and sense are easily confused words. Spell-check in word processing software doesn’t catch these mixups; if each one is a word and it’s spelled correctly, it keeps right on scanning. A keen editor has to detect these situations and realize if the right word was used in a given situation.

Since is a conjunction that typically leads a dependent clause, as in: “Since Alyssa did not do her chores, she is not getting her allowance this week.”  or as Kelly Clarkson sings, “Since you’ve been gone, I can breathe for the first time.” When you hear “since” there’s more information anticipated by the listener or reader, and more information should be coming from the writer. Otherwise, that’s a fragment.

Sense is a noun meaning intellect, or a sensory ability, like the five senses–seeing, touching, feeling, smelling, or hearing.

Cents is the plural form of the noun “cent.” In the U.S., one cent is a a penny. Most coins, (i.e., pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters) are collectively called “cents.” One dollar ($1) Sacajawea (and Susan B. Anthonys of the 1970s)  coins do exist, but they are rare and they don’t seem to catch on culturally.

Scents is the plural form of the noun “scent.”  Scent refers to how something smells, be it a flower, a food, a bottled fragrance, or garbage.

In conclusion, here’s an example sentence using all four correctly:

Since Myra had a cold and was flat broke, she had neither the sense nor the cents to buy new scents. 

 

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