Easily Confused Words: Intentionally vs. Initially

Intentionally and Initially 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.

Intentionally is an adverb. It modifies a verb to indicate purpose, decision, or as the word shows, intent. In criminal justice, a big part of the case is proving that the accused committed the crime, and did so intentionally. They planned the crime, they didn’t just get angry and react violently.

Initially is an adverb. It modifies verb to indicate being first, being in a primary position, being the first things to do. For example, when you go to cook at home you initially gather your ingredients. For extra convenience, you could pre-measure them into small bowls so you can toss them, one by one, into your dish.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ennis entered the dance. Initially, he was nervous about talking to anyone, or asking his female classmates to dance. But then his favorite song came on, and he suddenly felt emboldened. He intentionally strolled up to Stephanie, one of the most well-known girls in school. She was a girl who was always surrounded by friends and laughing. tonight was no exception. He asked her to dance. She smiled and said yes.

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