Easily Confused Words: Herd vs. Heard

Herd and Heard are easily confused words. They are homophones, meaning they are sound the same, but are spelled differently.

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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Herd is a noun. It means a large group of grass-eating mammals that travel together. Herd is also in idioms like “follow the herd” and”heard mentality,” which both mean humans following the group. Following the herd means failing to act independently, using herd mentality means failing to think for oneself.

Heard is a verb, it’s the past tense of “hear.” To hear is to sense sound with your ears.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Hero was enjoying camping on the savanna until he felt the earth shaking underneath him. Then he heard a cacophony of loud, pounding sounds, and saw a dark blur headed his way. He leapt into a tree just before a herd of wildebeests thundered past. 

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Easily Confused Words: Chute vs. Shoot

Chutes and shoots 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 what word you may want as you type to save time. Sometimes it works, but often, it couldn’t be more wrong.

Chute is a noun. A chute is an inclined tube used to transport material from an elevated spot to a lower spot. Chutes are often found in apartment buildings for garbage. Houses may have a laundry chute so dirty clothes slide into a basement where the washer and dryer are.

Shoot is a verb. It means to launch ammunition from a weapon or projectile. More casually, someone may ask you to propose an idea for approval or pursue a big goal: take a shot.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Charla was a sharpshooting rifle champion who performed stunts. In one trick, she slid down a chute, did a flip in the air, then shot the bullseye of at her target.

Sidebar: Ever heard this joke? It’s much funnier aloud:

Q: What eats chutes and leaves?

A: A Panda bear.

It’s funny because people hear “chutes”, but see “shoots” in their head. They’re thinking gun or weapon, not parts of a plant. They hear leaves and think “exit”, not part of a plant.

Easily Confused Words: Voila vs. Viola

Voilà and Viola are easily confused words. One word is French, and been adopted into English.

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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Voilà is an interjection. This a word used to express excited emotion. When a person says Voilà they are indicating they feel successful completion, even mastery: “Voilà! Check out my latest artwork!”

Viola is a noun. It means a large string instrument played with a bow. Violas are larger than violins and consequently have a lower sound range. It can also mean violet plants. [Some women are named Viola, and this is for the violet flower meaning.]

The following story uses both words correctly:

Vino spent months composing his viola concerto for the charity concert. When he was finally done, he performed it for his mom and her friends, finishing with “Voilà! What’d you think guys? Am I ready for the Viola Gardens Show?”

Easily Confused Words: Moot vs. Mute

Moot and Mute 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Moot is an adjective. It means something whose timing has passed for a successful outcome. A moot point is a defeated point before any effort is made.

Mute means silent, it has multiple forms:

  • Mute the verb to means to silence someone or something, like your cell phone, a television, computer, or radio.
  • Mute the noun
    • is a person who is physically incapable of speaking
    • or a device that turns off sound, like a volume or mute button.
  • Muted is an adjective:
    • it describes someone who talks in a low, hard to hear tone of voice.
    • If a color is muted, its grayed out or faded, not bright or vibrant.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Townspeople didn’t know if Mutia was mute, or just the quiet type, and felt it was a moot point to ask. At home, she watched television with the volume muted, reading the lips of the faces that appeared onscreen. 

Easily Confused Words: Filial vs. Finial

Filial and Finial 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Filial is an adjective, it means relating to sons or daughters, or their relationship to their parents.

Finial is a noun. It means the decorative tips that are mounted at the edges of curtain rods and at the tops of posts on staircases. Finials are also found on typefaces’ elegant serifs.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Finola was a geneaologist, designer, and an accomplished fiddle player. She was delighted when some antique finials she found at a thrift store could be traced to their proper filial owners. Now those grown children could decorate their homes with items from their past. 

Easily Confused Words: Site vs. Sight vs. Cite

Site and sight 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Site is a noun. It means a physical, or a virtual location. For instance, right now you’re looking at a website. Your home is on a physical site.

Sight has multiple forms, but it means seeing, or what is seen with the eyes.

  • Sight the noun means something within your current visual perception.
  • Sighted the past tense adjective is an optometry term. It forms a compound word: you wear glasses because you can’t see distances, you are nearsighted. If you can’t see up close, you are farsighted.
  • Sights the plural noun is a travel term. When you go to Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are typical sights you go to see.
  • Sight the verb is the act of seeing, the moment something was discovered: you caught sight of a lost earring on the floor.

Cite is a verb, it means to indicate written or verbal credit for someone else’s work as it relates to your own. It is a writing and communications term. When you write an essay or dissertation, you have to find reference material to support your paper’s points. The act of quoting someone else’s work, or numbering your work with footnotes that mentions others’ work is “citing” your references, you “cite” each one individually.

If you use others artwork or photos on a website, you need to mention the creator and the license of that artwork that allows you to use it.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Celine was challenged by the website she was asked to create: her client didn’t cite their artwork and photography sources, and they selected a color scheme that was a sorry sight with their logo. 

Easily Confused Words: Current vs. Currant

Current and currant 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Current is an adjective, it means something happening right now, in the present moment, in present public consciousness.

Currant is a noun, it means a small round grape that is dried into raisin form. It’s used for snacking and in baking.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Cuyler is the current culinary dynamo at the Cordon Bleu, known for using innovative combinations for unique flavor. His latest masterpiece? Currants in Bahn Mi style tacos.