Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Tot vs. Taught

Tot and taught are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

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.

Tot (pronounced “tawt”; rhymes with pot, hot, cot) is a noun.

  • As a noun, it means anything small in size.
    • For instance, tater tots are an appetizer item make of shredded potato. These shredded pieces are rolled into a ball or cylinder shape. They are battered, breaded and fried in oil.
  • As a noun, it is slang for a small child. For example, in the Christmas Song, one lyric says: “Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow will find it hard to sleep tonight, they know that Santa’s on his way.” [Click the link to hear the famous version of this song, released by Nat King Cole and a back up orchestra in 1961. Cole previously released the song in 1946.]

Taught (pronounced “tawwt”; rhymes with caught, naught, fought) is a verb, it is the past tense of teach, which is to instruct others on how to do something, or several things. So taught indicates teaching took place in the past. For example, superintendents usually have past experience where they taught children in the past, or served as a principal.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tatiana taught older students in middle and high school for years, but their attitudes were taxing and tiresome. She decided to retrain in early childhood education, with an emphasis on autistic children and special education.

Sure enough, she found working with one child at a time, tailoring their experience, was much more rewarding experience. Her students were “Tatiana’s Tots,” by the time they were 5, they were more than ready for kindergarten.

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Former vs. Latter

Former and latter are easily confused words. I am covering them by request.

While I cover homophones and other words that get confused because

  • they sound the same, or
  • they are spelled the same

These two words are confused for less superficial (on the surface, easy to see) ways.

I suspect “former” and “latter” get confused because they aren’t used all the time. They are more formal wording for first and last in a scenario of two things.

If it helps:

Former starts with F, just like “first.”

Latter starts with L, just like “last.”

Here are some examples:

  • Forrest was offered fried chicken or leek casserole for dinner. He said he’d prefer the former, not the latter.
  • Back in 1940, Lottie was asked to the dance by Frank and Lance. She declined the former’s request, and chose the latter. She’d been crushing on Lance for years. 
  • Francine was scolded that she and her siblings were neglecting their chores. Did she want to take out the garbage for a month, or wash the dog? As smelly and messy as it was, she chose the former. At least the garbage didn’t shake itself off and get you soaking wet in the process!
  • Two people were running for office:  Fagan and Logan. Exit polls indicated that voters didn’t really like either candidate, but Fagan, the former, was seen as the lesser of two evils. 
  • Not all faiths worship on the same day. Some chose Saturday, others chose Sunday. Judaism’s day of rest is the former, while many Christian faiths’ day of rest is the latter. [One exception is the Seventh Day Adventists. They also worship on Saturday.]

This post relates to other posts: Easily Confused Words: Ladder vs. Latter, Easily Confused Words: Later vs. Latter.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Abject vs. Object

Abject and object 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.

Abject (pronounced “ab-jeckt”) is an adjective. It describes extremely negative circumstances, conditions that are wretched, depraved, full of desperation. This word is used frequently to describe poverty and homelessness.

Object (pronounced “awb-jeckt”) is a noun.

  • As a noun, it can means a material or tactile (touchable) thing.
  • As a noun, figuratively, it can mean the goal or point of a game or contest.

The following story uses both words correctly:

When Abegayle found her birth father living in abject poverty, she made it her goal to build him a tiny house and get him on his feet. He was alcoholic and dealing with mental illness. When she was small, she had no notions of being the object of his affection. She had been told that he abandoned the family and she was better off not knowing him. She had accepted this explanation at the time, but it hadn’t sat right with her.

When she had gained her independence and lived on her own, she sought her own answers. It was then that she learned the truth. Her dad struggled with lots of issues, found it hard to stay employed, and her mother had asked him to leave because she had found someone else. 

“I’ve never been there for you, Abegayle. You don’t have to do this. I don’t want you to.”

“But I want to, Dad.”

“Call me Abner, Abegayle, I haven’t really been your Dad.”

 

 

 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Route vs. Root

Route and root 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.

Route (pronounced “root”/”rout”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can means a type of street followed by a number. There are routes that connects destinations within states. There are also national routes that cross US state lines and are maintained by federal government authority. [These predate the US interstates that were built in the 1950s.]
    • US Routes ending in zero run east to west (horizontally on the map) across the contiguous United States. Many go coast to coast.
      • US Route 80 connects New Jersey to northern California.
      • US Route 90 connects Massachusetts to Seattle.
    • US Routes ending in one run north to south (vertically on the map) across the contiguous United States.
      • US Route 1 connects Maine to the Florida Keys.
      • US Route 31 connects southern Alabama to Michigan.
      • US Route 41 connects southern Florida to Michigan.
      • US Route 61 connects Louisiana to Minnesota.
      • US Route 101 connects Washington state to southern California.
    • TRIVIA: US Route 66 was in use from the 1920s-1980s. It connected Chicago Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Today its been mostly replaced by Interstate 40 (“I-40.”)
  • As a noun, it can mean an employee’s work territory in the mail, package, and newspaper delivery businesses.
  • As a verb, it can mean to clear a path.

Root (pronounced “root”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun:
    • it means the underground parts of plant that intake water and nutrients. These help the plant grow and sustain itself. Plant roots hold the soil together and prevent erosion, but even they have a tough time in periods with too much rainfall.
      • for climbing plants, it means the fingerlike projections on chutes that stick to, or entwine with, a wall or other surface.
  • As a noun, figuratively:
    • it refers to extensive family history in a geographic area.
    • it means the source of something, i.e., “the root of the problem”
  • As a verb:
    • it means to tunnel or make a path underground.
    • it can mean to scour the ground for food, truffles, or bugs for food sources.

The following story uses both words correctly:

After receiving her sample results from a genealogy website, Ruby wanted to take a road trip to see the places associated with her family’s roots in person. She didn’t want to take interstates, she would take state routes and older country roads. Maybe she would rent a vintage car, too.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Mule vs. Mull

Mule and mull 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.

Mule (pronounced “”mewl”; rhymes with fuel, rule) is a noun with multiple meanings.

  • It can mean an animal is the horse family that was created by cross-breeding a male donkey with a female horse. Mules are sterile.
  • It can mean a stubborn person.
  • In fashion, it can mean a low-heeled, backless shoe. They are like clogs, but far less clunky and heavy-heeled.
  • In transportation, it can mean a small train car or boat used for towing much heavier cars or boats.
  • In law enforcement, it can mean someone hired to carry drugs or other contraband, usually across a border, waterway, or other boundary that is guarded. Typically these mules don’t look the part of someone involved in the drug trade, making it easier to slip by unnoticed.
  • In bartending, the Moscow Mule cocktail features vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. It is served in a copper mug or highball glass.

Mull (pronounced “muhl”; rhymes with dull, gull, lull) is a verb.

  • It can mean to think something over.
  • It can mean to slowly heat a drink with spices, especially beer or wine.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Some of Murdock’s high school classmates called.  Among their company was Murielle, his old crush. He called back and learned that it wasn’t they wanted to reflect on old times. They only called because they needed someone to act as a mule to smuggle contraband back across the border for them. He said he would mull it over and then never got back to them. 

 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Godot vs. Godet

Godot and Godet 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.

Godot (pronounced “guh-doe”) is a literary character in a Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot. It was originally written in French as Un attendant Godot. It was originally performed in Paris in 1953, then translated into English and performed in London in 1955.

Godet (pronounced “goh-deht”; rhymes with odette) is a fashion and tailoring word. It is adding a triangular or arcing wedge shape to fabric to give fullness. Triangular panels might be added to a skirt or dress, creating an “inverse pleat” look. Abayas, tunics, jackets with peplum effects at the waistline can also use godets. Gore is another term that is often used interchangeably with godet.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gigi dropped by to see Gwen. “Is my dress almost ready? The homecoming dance is coming up this week.”

“I just cut the godets for the skirt. I’ll have it sewed tonight, and the invisible zipper will go in tomorrow.”

Thanks for sewing this for me, Gwen. You’re a lifesaver. The ones at the store all looked horrible.” Gigi was snooping around, being her usual well-meaning but nosy self.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a copy of Waiting for Godot. A guy I’m seeing, Godfrey, loaned it to me, it said it changed his life.”

“It sounds macabre. Why are you attracted to such goths, Gwen? Let me introduce you to somebody! I owe you. It will be fun!”

“Oh, okay.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Pie vs. Pi

Pie and pi are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently, and mean different things.

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.

Pie (pronounced “peye”; rhymes with sky, fly) is a noun. It usually means a prepared food item featuring a crust and filling, and sometimes, another crust on top. Usually pie is eaten after a main meal as a dessert.

  • Cold pies: Their crust is made of crushed crackers or cookies that are mixed with butter or another binding ingredient, mashed into a pie pan, and baked. Their filling is ice cream, custard, pudding, or a filling of similar consistency. The whole thing is chilled in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up before serving.
  • Hot pies base crust is mixed, rolled flat, formed into a pie pan and baked. Then top crust, if there is one, is rolled flat and set aside. Then the filling is mixed and added into the baked crust, and lastly, the top crust is placed on and the whole thing is baked together. Sometimes pies have pieced top crust, or ornate crust.
  • Pies eaten as a meal are differentiated with other words: meat pie, mincemeat, pizza, flatbread, empanada, etc.

Pi (pronounced “peye”) is a noun. It is a geometry and mathematics word. It is the number 3.14159265359, often abbreviated 3.14. It is represented by the symbol π, two vertical strokes with a horizontal stroke crossing the top of both. What does Pi mean? The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Check out this LiveScience article on the importance of Pi.

  • TRIVIA: March 14, or 3/14, is Pi Day in the US, we write our dates in month, day, year format (MM/DD/YY.) In Europe July 22 (7/22) is celebrated as Pi Day because 22/7 = 3.14, in Europe they write the date as day, month, year (DD/MM/YY.)

The following story uses both words correctly:

Pierre was not amused when his new stepmother Pia made a pie for dinner. It even had little Pi letters cut into the top. She said it had chicken in it. It smelled like butter and herbs.

But it was Wednesday!

Wednesday was fried chicken and green beans night. She didn’t respect traditions and it just ruined what was already an average day.