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!”

 

 

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Easily Confused Words: Ghee vs. Gee

Ghee and gee 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.

Ghee (pronounced “gyee”; rhymes with fee, bee, me, we) is a noun. It means clarified butter used in Indian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern recipes.

To make ghee, you melt ordinary butter. The fat sinks to the bottom, the whey rises to the top. The whey is removed with a screened scoop or spoon. The fat is browned.

Gee (pronounced “G”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an interjection, or a words that express emotion, usually surprise, bewilderment, or annoyance. Other versions of gee include Gee Whiz, and Geez.
  • As an abbreviation of “grand,” it means the amount of one thousand dollars.
  • As an abbreviation for ground electronics engineering.
  • As a command for horses, it means to turn right.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gedeon thought he smelled cooking so he went to the kitchen. The counter was covered in spice containers. He asked, “Gee, Gelsey, what are you making?”

“I thought I’d try tikka masala from scratch tonight.”

“That sounds complicated. What is this?”

“I am making ghee. And it’s not that complicated, but I started early just to be safe.”

“I’m sure it will be wonderful.”

 

Easily Confused Words: Lays vs. Laze

Lays and laze 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.

Lays (pronounced “lays”; rhymes with pays, ways, bays, days) is a he/she/it form of the verb “lay,” which typically means to set something down on a surface, or put something in place. More definitions appear below the example sentences.

For example:

  • After school, Louis lays his book bag on the floor, collapses into a bean bag. He turns on the TV to play video games for the next two hours.
  • Leslie’s hands are full of groceries and household items. She lays down her keys, and puts everything away for the next ten minutes. Then she looks for where her keys went and asks everyone where they are. 

Lay can also mean:

  • To knock someone down in boxing or a fistfight.
  • To present a case before supervisors or authority for review.
  • To accuse or assign blame to someone else.
  • To install materials in or on ground: place bricks for a wall, install pipelines, pour concrete or other paving material, install flooring
  • To formally bury a body at a gravesite.
  • To start a project, make rules, or set an organization up.

Sometimes people get confused about “lie” and “lay.” Typically a person lies themselves down for a nap, they lay down other people (i.e., baby, puppy needing a nap) and things.

Laze (pronounced “layz”; rhymes with faze, maze) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, in geology, it refers to the acidic foggy rain that lingers in the air following a volcanic eruption. This year, 2018, its been in the news due to Kilauea’s eruption in the US state of Hawaii. In April 2010, Iceland had an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull that disrupted air travel for some time.
  • As a verb, it means to lounge around, to behave in a sloth-like, unmotivated way.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Lana has planned to get a suntan at a beach house near Hilo this summer, but she hadn’t anticipated a volcanic eruption. She found some friends who lived on Kauai and went kayaking instead. Not only did she get sunshine, she strengthened her core and got a change of scene.

Easily Confused Words: Drupal vs. Drupe

Drupal and Drupe 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.

Drupal (pronounced “droo-puhl”; rhymes with pupil) is an open source computer language. It was created by Dries Buytaert in 2000. It’s named for the Dutch word for the noun “drop;” like water, or other liquid, from a tap.

[Per the link, it was actually intended to be “dorp.org,” but it was mistyped when the domain name was registered.”Dorp” is Dutch for village and this was intended to be a message board among a group of college friends. Since open source is about collective effort among many people, like many droplets forming an ocean, I think this “mistake” actually worked out pretty well.]

Drupe (pronounced “droop”; rhymes with loop, coop) is a botany word. It classifies fruits known for having a single, woody-shelled seed in the center. Peaches, apricots, plums, mangoes, cherries, and olives are all drupes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Drew was struggling with why his Drupal code was returning error codes. He decided to take a break. He went to get a soda and some dried drupe fruit mix out of the refrigerator. It was hard to convince himself not to grab a handful of M & M’s instead.

Embracing a high-fiber, lower sugar diet was really hard, but his last checkup showed he was insulin-resistant and on track for developing Type II diabetes. His doctor warned that if he wanted to see his kids graduate high school, he had to make changes now.

Easily Confused Words: Grated vs. Graded

Grated and graded 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.

Grated (pronounced “gray-tihd”; rhymes with slated, baited) has multiple meanings.

  • The past tense of the verb “grate.” To grate is to slice into small pieces using a knife or other cutting device (often ceramic or metal.) “Grated” indicates this cutting was done some time in the past. For example: I grated cheese this afternoon for the pizza I was making. 
  • The past tense of the verb “grate.” To grate in a figurative sense is to irritate or bother. For example: Listening to a guy clip his nails on the subway really grated on my nerves. I was repulsed.
  • As an adjective, it describes a food or other item that’s been pre-cut for use. For example, grated cheese is sold in bags for a home cook’s convenience.

Graded (pronounced “gray-dihd”; rhymes with faded, bladed) has multiple meanings.

  • As the past tense of the verb “grade.” To grade can mean to evaluate condition or performance of someone or something;  typically a scale of skill levels or other levels of quality exists, and each level has a number or letter associated with it. Quality or Performance is judged against this scale.
    • For example:
      • Mrs. Jones finally got all those term papers graded 2 a.m. Sunday night.
      • Any meat I buy at the grocery must be graded “A” by the USDA.
  • As the past tense of the verb “grade.” To grade can mean to evaluate the incline of a road. In hilly and mountainous areas, drivers need to know how to adapt their driving style to changes in terrain. They have to be even more careful with sloping terrain and wet weather conditions. Signs like the ones on this page help them know what’s ahead.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Greyson grated cheese and cut vegetables for her mom’s Mother’s Day omelette. Her mother was sleeping in. She had graded papers until 4 am. Her dad would be back soon to do the cooking.

Easily Confused Words: Elevate vs. Alleviate

Elevate and alleviate 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.

Elevate (pronounced “ell-uh-vayt”; rhymes with escalate, remediate) is a verb.

  • It means to rise.
  • In a figurative sense, it can also mean to gain status or authority.

Alleviate (pronounced “uh-leave-ee-ate”; rhymes with escalate, remediate) is a verb. It means to make something easier or less stressful for one or more other people.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Allen was a real superstar at his new job. He seemed to have the right instincts for how to alleviate his boss’ worries time and time again. He hoped his extra effort at work would elevate his position over time. A pay raise would be nice, too.

Easily Confused Words: Winter vs. Vintner

Winter and vintner 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.

Winter (pronounced “wihn-tuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the colder solstice of the year. In the northern hemisphere, this happens December-February. In the southern hemisphere, this happens June-August.
  • As a verb, it means to vacation in an area during the winter months. For example, people in northern climates in the US, if they can afford it, winter in Florida, Arizona, or other sunnier places.

Vintner (pronounced “vihnt-nuhr”) is a noun. It means someone who sells wine.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Vijay quit his high-stress job in hedge fund management to start a vineyard and small goat farm. In five years, he was the most successful vintners in his area. Once his staff felt comfortable running the store without him, he wintered out of town. Sometimes he took in film festivals. Other times he went to Sedona, Arizona.