Easily Confused Words: Alone vs. A Loan

Alone and a loan 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.

Alone (pronounced “uh-lohn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, it means the state of a person being literally by his or her self, or an object being by itself. It can also describe someone who is singular or unique in a particular subject or field.
  • As an adverb, it describes actions of people or things that don’t require aid or assistance. It can also be used to describe actions that are exclusive or singular for a particular person.

A loan (pronounced “uh (pause) lohn”) is a noun phrase. It means a sum of money given between persons. For loans from a bank, a person typically has to provide evidence he/she is capable of paying the money back plus interest, or offer an item of value as collateral. Should he/she not pay the loan back, the bank is able to claim that collateral item.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lenore had been in a bad accident. It took months of therapy to regain the ability to walk without crutches. She was thrilled when she able to stand up alone, and walk across a room without falling. Now that she was in recovery, her next big task was paying off all those bills. She hoped she wouldn’t need to get a loan in order to pay them off. 

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