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!”