Easily Confused Words: Steppes vs. Steps

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.

Steppes is a plural noun. It means a very large grassland without trees. Steppes are common in East Europe and Western Asia.

Steps has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean stairs, or horizontal slats used to climb a ladder or from one floor to another.
  • As a noun, it can mean as set of tasks to accomplish a goal.
  • As a noun, it can mean the units making up a dance.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Stian has attempting to hike across the Eurasian continent on foot. Almost 4,000,000 steps in, he was finding it hard to cross Puszta. Part of the European steppes, its wind was bitter cold even in late May.

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