Easily Confused Words: Absolve vs. Observe

Absolve and observe 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.

Absolve (pronounced “ab-sawlv”) is a verb. It means to remedy, to be freed or released from a responsibility or obligation.

Observe (pronounced “uhb-serve”) is a verb. It means to view or to watch behavior of someone or something else.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Oberon got his first speeding ticket and he was terrified. When he appeared in court, he asked for leniency since it was his first time. The judge agreed to absolve him of fines and points on his license. However, he had to perform 40 hours of community service. For the next month, he could only drive if he was observed by a more mature driver in the passenger seat.

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