Clause and claws 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.
Clause (pronounced “kl-AWzz”) has multiple meanings, but all are referring to a portion of written language.
- In grammar, a sentence can have dependent and independent clauses. Dependent clauses are fragments (incomplete) when pulled from the sentence. Independent clauses could be their own sentence.
- In a contract or other legal document, clauses capture rules, policies, covenants, or special conditions for any of the above.
- TRIVIA: In the 1990s film “The Santa Clause,” the title is a pun with the name “Claus.” In the film (sorry! spoilers ahead), Santa Claus dies and an ordinary middle class man who witnessed the event has to take over the role of Santa forever. Unbeknowst to him, his obligations to take the job were the “clause.”
Claws (pronounced “kl-AWzz”) has multiple meanings.
- As a noun, it means the nails on the feet birds and four-legged carnivorous animals. They aid in grasping, scratching, and holding objects.
- As the he/she/it form of the verb “claw.” To claw is to use one’s nails or claws to climb a steep slope or vertical plane. This is especially true when a person or creature lacks steps or stairs to use, like a cliff in nature. If you saw The Lion King movie, you might remember a pivotal scene where a main character lion claws its way out of a ravine to avoid an antelope stampede.
- In a more figurative sense, someone who “claws” their way, isn’t literally climbing, but figuratively doing all they can to achieve a goal or dominance in a situation. This phrasing *might* be interpreted as sexist since women typically have longer nails than men. “Getting your claws in something” is a similar phrase.
The following story uses both words correctly:
Claudine missed that a new clause in the dress code at her school. It said that no student could wear fake fingernails or grow long, pointy nails. She protested when she noticed that a teacher, Mrs. Claussen, wore long nails. When she claws a students shoulder to talk to them during class, it really hurts. Claudine decided she would complain about what she was a double standard.