Easily Confused Words: Improv vs. Improve

Improv and improve 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.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Improv (pronounced “ehm-prawv”) is short for improvisation, which is a noun. Improv a form of theater where a team of actors performs routines of the top of their head with minimal prompt.

Improvisation is any time someone is doing something off the top of their head instead of rehearsing, practicing, or planning what he/she would do in advance. In public speaking, a popular idiom for improvisation is talking “off the cuff.”

Improve (pronounced “ehm-prewv”) is a verb. It means to analyze and correct one’s behavior, work, or other activity for the better.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Imre and Ingmar were struggling to change their mime act into a successful improv act. They enrolled in an acting class to order to improve.


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