Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Tires vs. Tiers

Tires and tiers 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.

Tires (pronounced “teye-uhrs;” rhymes with fires, mires, wires, sires) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it is the plural form of “tire.” A tire is a rubberized wheel filled with air, they are used on cars, trucks, trailers, bicycles, wheelbarrows, handtrucks (aka dollys), and some wheelchairs. The only problem with tires is if a sharp object punctures the rubber, the wheel goes flat and must be patched or totally replaced.
  • As a verb, it is the he/she/it form of the verb “tire.” To tire means to make weary or exhaust, to fatigue someone or some creature. Here are some example sentences with “tires:”
    • She never tires of explaining how math works to her students.
    • I have to walk my dog twice a day. It tires him, and he sleeps better.
    • The kiosk is taking over fast food ordering. It never tires, it never needs to go on break, and it doesn’t demand any healthcare costs.

Tiers (pronounced “teers;” rhymes with piers, fears, beers) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it is the plural form of “tier.” A tier is a level within a stack or hierarchy. Tiers indicates there are multiple levels within the stack or hierarchy.
    • A Smith Island Cake is famous for its nine tiers of cake interspersed with frosting.
    • There are five tiers of credit card available through our bank: Platinum, black, green, blue, and red.
    • There are six tiers of seating available for the concert.
  • As a verb, it means to stack or place in tiers.
  • As a verb, it means rise or fall within tiers of a hierarchy. It’s another way of saying gaining or losing rank.
  • In Australia, as a noun, it means a mountain range.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tyra checked her tires before they loaded the wedding cake with 5 tiers into the car. They couldn’t afford a flat today. This was the biggest client to date for her bakery, Tiers of Joy.

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Tier vs. Tear.

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