Easily Confused Words: Burro vs. Burrow

Burro and Burrow 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “b-u-r-r-o.”

Burro is a noun. It’s a Spanish word meaning a small donkey used as a pack animal.

Burrow is a verb. It’s when a creature digs a hole big enough for it to conceal it’s entire body in. Moles, groundhogs, and ghost crabs are just three of many creatures that are famous for their burrowing skills.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Bernard was an unusual burro, when he didn’t feel well he would burrow into the ground and wedge himself in the hole, head first.

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Easily Confused Words: Staring vs. Starring

Staring and starring 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “s-t-a-r.”

Staring is a gerund form of the verb stare.  Staring means looking at something or someone for a very long time. How long? So long that you’re sure to be noticed by who or what you’re looking at.

Starring is a gerund form of the verb star. Starring is another way of listing cast member credits in a theater or film production. Typically, people starring in a film are listed either in the opening or closing of TV, film or web show, or in live theater, in a printed program or magazine handed out as the audience walks in.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sergei didn’t hear their conversation. He was too busy staring at all the famous names starring in the next superhero film coming out next month. 

Easily Confused Words: Hi vs. High

Hi and High 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.

Hi is an interjection, short for “hello.”

High is an adjective, indicating a position in the air.

It can also be an adverb in the sense of rank, degree, or relative position to something else.

It can also indicate a feeling of elation, or carefree “floating” feeling in their head though the speaker hasn’t actually physically moved, their feet haven’t left the ground. (This is the feeling drug users describe after taking marijuana, hallucinogens, cocaine, and other currently illegal substances.) Athletes who pushed their physical limits often describe a “runners high” after exerting themselves.

High is found in a lot of idioms, far more than I can get into one blogpost.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Heidi was a cheerful, outgoing personality who said hi! to everyone on the trail in the high Alps.

Easily Confused Words: Plates vs. Plaits

Plates and plaits 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “p-l-a.”

Plates (pronounced “playts”) is the plural form of the noun plate.

It means the flat, 6-9 inch serving pieces that people eat off of at a sit-down meal. Plates can be made of a number of materials, i.e., baked clay or porcelain, styrofoam, plastic, or paper. Typically, the more fragile plates are used for formal dinners and special occasions like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Disposable or recyclable plates are used for casual dining, cookouts, and outdoor picnics.

It can also mean a meal or snack serving of food.

In seismology, tectonic plates beneath the earth’s surface shift and sometimes collide. This is what causes earthquakes.

Plaits (US: “playts”/”platts”; UK: “platts”; ) is a noun. It is means hair or straw sections woven into braids.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Mother didn’t want Pleiade touching the silverware or the plates until she’d cleaned up a bit. “Please wash your face, put your unruly hair in plaits, and brush your teeth. Then come back and help me, Pleiade.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Platte vs. Plait

Easily Confused Words: Browse vs. Brows

Browse and Brows 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “b-r-o-w-s.”

Browse is a verb, it means to look without searching for one thing in particular. When you surf the web, you’re doing it in a “browser” window.

Brows is a noun, the plural of brow. Brows is short for eyebrows, the strips of hair that grow above your eyes that tend to follow the contours of your skull from your nose to your temples.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Belinda was very particular; sometimes she took over a hour to browse the mascaras and brows items in the beauty aisle of her neighborhood drug store.

Easily Confused Words: Premier vs. Primer

Premier and Primer 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “p-r.”

Premier is noun, meaning an executive representative of a country.

Primer is a noun, it means an abbreviated introduction to a subject. Primer in hardware and home repair means the liquid that’s applied before the paint.

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

Before the big state dinner, the premier required a primer for her staff of all the guests titles and all necessary etiquette protocols.

For a related post, see Premiere vs. Premier.

Easily Confused Words: Moot vs. Moat

Moot and Moat 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. Similarly, autocorrect on mobile phones might suggest one word instead of the other, it would be easy to do since both words start with “m-o.”

Moot (pronounced “moott” rhymes with “boot”) is an adjective. It means means futile effort, a foregone conclusion.

Moat (pronounced “moht”, rhymes with “boat”) is a noun, surrounding a castle and meant as a protective boundary from invaders.

The following story uses both words correctly:

King Mojin overthought putting a moat around his castle. Once the invaders arrived, he had just decided it was a good idea. By this time, the point was moot.