Easily Confused Words: Neural vs. Neutral

Neural and neutral 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.

Neural (pronounced “new-ruhl”) is an adjective. It describes issues or things relating to the brain and nervous system. Neurons and neurologist are both related words.

Neutral (pronounced “new-truhll”) is an adjective. It describes not possessing extremes in views or characteristics. In a polarizing conflict, it can mean refusing to take a side, staying in the middle.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Recent studies suggested Nutella and nut butter spreads were ideal for supporting neural pathways in the brain. Nanette was skeptical, she preferred to remain neutral until more studies could be done.


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