Easily Confused Words: Adjunct vs. Adjacent

Adjunct and adjacent 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.

Adjunct (pronounced “add-juhnkt”) is an adjective. It describes something supplementary, non-essential. In academia (colleges/universities), it is used to describe non-permanent professorships.

Adjacent (pronounced “add-jay-cent”) is a preposition. It means located next to, or to the side of, something else.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After teaching 10 years as an adjunct professor, Adjani had grown tired of working very hard with no opportunity for promotion in sight. After a critical meeting with her superiors, she made some big decisions. She sold her house, which was adjacent to the college of arts and photography building. She resigned, bought a bus, and hit the road to become a documentary filmmaker.


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