Easily Confused Words: Sentient vs. Sentiment

Sentient and sentiment are easily confused words. By beginning with “sent-,” both words relate to the human mind and feelings.

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.

Sentient (pronounced “sihn-tee-ihnt”) is an adjective. It describes someone possessing intelligence and sanity.

Sentiment (pronounced “sihn-tuh-mihnt”) is a noun. It means a thought, a viewpoint, a feeling.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Senona considered herself a sentient, logical person who wasn’t swayed by sappy movies or schmaltzy music. After losing her dog, though, she was unconsolable and the slightest things brought tears to her eyes. When she received a card and flowers from her coworker, Santiago, she was touched by the sentiment. It was so nice to know somebody cared. 


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