Easily Confused Words: Clause vs. Claws

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.

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Easily Confused Words: Herein vs. Hearing

Herein and hearing 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.

Herein (“heer-ihnn”) is an adverb. It means “in this (body/document/building).”

  • Perhaps you’ve seen a tombstone or mausoleum inscribed with, “Herein lies beloved mother….”
  • A covenant for a homeowners association might read, “All homeowners agree to rules described herein.” This document describes rules for lawn maintenance, noise curfews, payments expected for communal area maintenance, the approval procedure for making house upgrades.

Hearing (“heer-ihng”; rhymes with clearing, fearing, steering, endearing, peering) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, in criminology and law, it means a judicial event.
  • As a noun, in biology, in means one of the five senses involving the ears, and the brain that interprets the sounds the ears hear.
  • As a verb, the gerund form. it means to hear in the present moment. For example, “Is a dog whimpering, or am I hearing things?”
  • Geographic/ Dialect note: In rural parts of the US, where “g’s” are often left off words, “hearing” will sound more like “heer-ihnn,” including dialects of the US South, Appalachia, and Texas.

The following story uses both words correctly:

The bailiff asked, “All are the parties herein for the hearing?” The plaintiff’s attorneys said yea, the defendant’s attorneys said yea. “Please rise, the Honorable Judge Hernandez presiding.” Everyone stood up and the judge entered and sat on the bench. 

 

 

 

Easily Confused Words: Lune vs. Loon

Lune and loon 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.

Lune (pronounced “loon”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an adjective, this describes anything crescent-shaped or half-circle shaped.
  • In geometry, it describes a shape formed by two intersecting and/or overlapping circles. For example, the middle portion of a Venn diagram. Click the link to learn more.

Loon (pronounced “loon”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, in ornithology, it means a bird that eats fish and has a unique cry. Check it out here.
    • TRIVIA: The common loon is the state bird of Minnesota, the state famous for its 10,000 lakes.
  • As a noun, it can mean a person who is odd or out of their mind.
    • The related adjective is “loony,” describing someone dim-witted or crazy. [This is not to be confused with ‘loonie,” a dollar coin in Canada.]

The following story uses both words correctly:

Lunette entered the Twilight Lakeside Festival cookie contest with lune shaped cookies frosted in unique patterns, like patterns inspired by fish scales and bird feathers. She easily won the originality category. As she went up to accept her award, the loons on the water started calling to each other and fish jumped around the surface. It was a little surreal. 

 

Easily Confused Words: Tatting vs. Tattling

Tatting and tattling 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.

Tatting (pronounced “tatt-ihng”; rhymes with batting, matting) is a noun. It is a type of weaving that makes lace with knots and loops. Traditionally it is tatting is created with the help of a hand-held, almond-shaped shuttle, but some use a crochet needle or other tools. The thread used for tatting is traditionally made of cotton, silk, or more recently, a synthetic blend.

Tatting dates back to the 1700s. Irish immigrants are credited with bringing this handicraft to the US in the latter half of the 1800s. At one time, ladies magazines would include patterns for tatting. There are examples for sale on Etsy even today. Per Victoriana magazine, this same craft is called knotting in the UK, frivolet (“free-voh-lay”) in France. Here’s an introductory video of tatting by kmemuse on Youtube.

Sewing and handicrafts can aid mental health and help lower blood pressure through their repetitive, calming movements.

Tattling (pronounced “”tatt-lihng”) is the gerund form of the verb “tattle.” It means to witness and report someone else’s mistakes with the aim of getting that person in trouble. Usually these mistakes are trivial in nature. Any parent who has more than one child, and schoolteachers are all too familiar with young people tattling on each other.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Tasia was trying to finish some tatting pieces for an upcoming crafts show. Her daughter Tabitha kept interrupting.

“Mom, Tomas is digging through your magazines and creasing up the pages!”

“Are you tattling on your younger brother again? Unless he’s hurting himself, hurting you, or your things, I don’t need to know about it.”

“But Mom—“

“I need you to keep an eye on him but not report his every move. Please go read a book in the family room.”

“Oh-kay.” Tabitha turned and walked back to the family room with slumped shoulders. 

Easily Confused Words: Well vs. We’ll

Well and we’ll 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.

Well (pronounced “whell”; rhymes with tell, fell, bell) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a convenient water access point created by drilling a vertical tunnel to connect to an underground water source. Usually piping or a bucket is used to get the water up to the surface.
  • As an adverb, it indicates a task performed successfully, and sometimes, beyond expectation. Context usually indicates whether something just made it, or went beyond just making it.
    • The job interview went really well, I think I can expect a callback.
  • As an adjective, it describes good health, suitable conditions or satisfaction with circumstances.
  • As an interjection, it indicates surprise, or something is problematic or not easy.

We’ll (pronounced “weel”; rhymes with eel, feel, meal, keel) is a contraction for “we will” or “we shall.”

  • A popular song refrain in the 20th century Civil Rights Movement, “We Shall Overcome”
  • Example sentence: We’ll need to leave early given the bad weather and morning traffic conditions. We want to be there before the appointment time.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Weiland hadn’t seen Wellesley in a decade since graduation. So when she happened to stop by where he was bartending, he hurried over and asked, “Hi, Wellesley, are you well?”

“Do I know you?”

“I’m Weiland, I went to high school with you.”

“Oh really? I had a lot of friends. I can’t say I remember you. Things are going really well, they got a lot better after I left here.”

“Where did you go?”

“Oh I moved to the big city. Needed opportunity, needed excitement, and it paid off. Now they want me to speak at the school and cut the ribbon at a new center I donated money for.”

“That’s wonderful, Wellesley. It’s so great your giving back.”

“We’ll see if it helps my bottom line, haha.”

“Well good to see you again. I need to get back to work.”

“See you later, Waylon.”

“Weiland,” he corrected. “See you around, Wellesley.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Weal vs. Wheel

 

Easily Confused Words: Oryx vs. Onyx

Oryx and onyx 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.

Oryx (pronounced “Ohrr-icks”) is a large herbivorous antelope whose native habitat is southern and western Africa. It has straight or slightly arcing antlers with a ribbed texture.  Some species have fur in a unique pattern of grey, white, and black, while other species are white and rusty brown. It is also called a gemsbok.

Onyx (pronounced “awn-icks”; rhymes with phonics, sonics) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means a mineral, a type of chalcedony. It either has a solid black appearance, or has gradient stripes in its appearance. A banded black onyx would have grey or white stripes, a red onyx would have pink or white stripes.
  • As a color, it means a deep jet black.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ondine couldn’t believe she was finally on safari for a month and taking photographs. All she had to do all day was take incredible shots of lions, oryx, leopards, zebras and elephants. She also helped out at an orphanage for baby elephants. 

When the month was up, one of her new friends gave her an onyx necklace to remind her of her time there.

 

Easily Confused Words: Dents vs. Dense

Dents and dense 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.

Dents (pronounced “dihnts”)

  • As the plural form of the noun “dent.” A dent is a pit or mark in the surface of a car, a piece of furniture, or other object. Dents indicates there’s more than one mark in a surface.
  • As a verb, it is the he/she/it form of the verb “dent,” which means to hit something and leave a mark.

Dense (pronounced “dihns”; rhymes with wince, fence, tense) is an adjective.

  • It describes something numerous, or thick in volume or consistency.
  • It describes a person who is lacking intelligence, or isn’t very bright.

The following story uses both words correctly:

“Dunston, what did you get into last night?”

“Oh just hanging out downtown, Dad. Nothing special.”

“Why are there dents in our front bumper? Who or what did you hit?”

“Are you sure those weren’t already there?”

“How dense do you think I am, Dunston Reginald Turner? The car didn’t look this bad when you left!”