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: Purport vs. Support

Purport and support 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.

Purport (pronounced “purr-pohrt”) is a verb. It means to claim or to imply.

Support (pronounced “suh-pohrt”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means something holding other things up physically, or providing emotional help through understanding, encouragement, listening, empathy, or a combination of those things.
  • As a verb, it means to hold something up.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Purcell was running for more and had a purported lead in the polls. Then it was revealed several members of his immediate family supported the opposition candidate. Suddenly new reports fixated on this news, and speculation about the bad blood drama that fueled it. Purcell’s poll numbers took a hit.

Easily Confused Words: Seine vs. Sane

Seine and sane are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they sound alike, 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.

Seine (pronounced “SAYnn”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a proper noun. It is the river flowing through Paris, France that ends at the English Channel. It begins in Source Seine, which is northwest of Dijon. All proper nouns should be capitalized in writing.
  • As a noun, it means a fishing net suspended vertically in water with weights on the bottom edge. As a school of fish pushes into the net the bottom edge rises and encloses with the top edge at the surface.
  • As a verb, it means to catch fish using this type of seine net.

Sane (pronounced “SAYn”) is an adjective. It describes someone conscious, having a sound, average functioning mind and a general level of intelligence.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 Sanibel took a job in Paris in the fashion industry. It had always been her dream to move here. Now that she was here and working eighteen years later, it was closer to a nightmare with lots of stress and expenses. One of the things that kept her sane were her lunch breaks. She would walk along the Seine. She would remember what she loved and what had motivated her coming here in the first place. She felt proud for following through with her lifelong dreams, even if it wasn’t so glamorous right now.

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: Nacre vs. Knackered

Nacre and knackered 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.

Nacre (pronounced “nay-KUHR”; rhymes with acre, maker, taker, faker) is the technical name for mother-of-pearl, that silvery white, and sometimes iridescent “rainbow” lustre found inside mollusks, oysters, and other bivalve shells.

Nacre is also a quality sought in pearls for sale. This is similar to how gemstones are judged by criteria like cut, clarity, color, and carat.

While gemstones are created in the earth (and more recently, laboratories), pearls are created by oysters’ bodies. When irritants come inside their shell that could cut or wound their soft, wet bodies, they release a mucus-like substance to cover the irritant. Layer upon layer of nacre is what makes a pearl.

Cultured pearls are created by deliberately putting a small round irritant into the oyster. Check out a little film here of how they are made. Artificial pearls are made from glass and plastic and covered in pearly enamel.

Knackered (pronounced “NACK-uhrd”; rhymes with lacquered) is an adjective. It describes the state of being fatigued, tired, or exhausted. This word is used more in the UK and among British speakers than American ones.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Nicola was knackered after a long day of shopping for wedding bands with nacre accents. She wanted these details because she met her fiancé, Nigel, at the beach. Unfortunately it was proving hard to find at the shops near her flat.

Easily Confused Words: Manganese vs. Magnesium

Manganese and magnesium 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.

Magnesium (pronounced “mag-NEEZ-eee-uhm”) is a silvery white element with the atomic number 12, abbreviation Mg on the Periodic table.

Magnesium aids the human body in over 300 processes. It helps regulate blood sugar, keeps bones strong, helps nerve and muscle function, keeps the heart beating normally. Signs of a magnesium deficiency can be found here. Dietary sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, tofu, tree nuts (almond, cashew), peanuts, and soybeans. The daily recommendation for magnesium is at least 400 mg for males and 300 mg for females.

If one’s body isn’t maintaining proper regularity (removing solid waste), that person may pick up Milk of Magnesia or a similar product at the drugstore. As the brand name implies, Milk of Magnesia has a chief ingredient of magnesium; Miralax and other products like it also contain it.

Manganese (pronounced “mang-GUH-neez”) is a grayish white element with the atomic number 25, abbreviation Mn, in the periodic table. It is used in steel production.

Manganese is also used by the human body, but in much smaller amounts than magnesium. The daily recommendation for manganese no more than 11 mg a day. Too much can harm the heart and cause tremors.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Magnum was struggling in chemistry class, but it was required to graduate with honors. If he failed to graduate with honors, he wouldn’t get into the prestigious college all his family had attended. 

So he signed up for tutoring. His assigned tutor was a girl named Magda. 

“All these names sound weirdly the same. How am I supposed to keep Manganese apart from Magnesium?”

Magda took a deep breath. Then she said, “Manganese rusts is water. Magnesium gives off hydrogen gas in hot water. Behavior in water is an example of a chemical reaction.

The atomic numbers of each element indicates the number of electrons it has. This is what makes the elements behave uniquely in chemical reactions. It’s like a personality.”

“Oh, okay, that makes sense.”

 

STORY: A Leafroller Caterpillar

A small green caterpillar was suspended from a transparent thread. She hung precariously ten feet below a tree leaf on a breezy day.

She was only just learning how thread worked when she fell off her leaf and her thread spooled her way, way, way down.

Was it possible to get back up? She wanted to get back to eating leaves, or taking a nap on the underside of one before the afternoon sun got too hot and cooked her soft little body.

But her leaf was all the way up there. She could barely see where it was, but the thread knew the way. So she started climbing.

A blue jay passed by. “You’re lucky you are too tiny to be a satisfying snack, and I’m too busy to clip your thread.”

The little caterpillar paid him no mind and kept climbing.

A larger caterpillar saw her and cried, “what are you doing out there? Something will eat you any minute! You never leave your leaf!”

The little caterpillar paid him no mind and kept climbing.

The breeze blew the little caterpillar closer to a spider’s web.

The spider said, “I have a nice secure net full of thread here.” She patted it to prove it. “Why don’t you climb on over?”

The little caterpillar hung tightly on to her thread and waited until the wind died down. She swung back and forth, back and forth, and back, and forth. Then her thread was back to its resting position. She started climbing again. She thought she could see her leaf up ahead.

Two squirrels jumped from branch to branch overhead, causing the leaves to tremble, including her leaf. For a moment, she thought about jumping herself to get the journey over with. But her legs had no knees and no hips, no means to jump. So she kept climbing.

She was getting close now. It started to lightly rain. Drips falling onto her face made it hard to see, but she kept climbing. Eventually, the rain let up.

By now she had passed thousands of leaves. If she had swung on her thread hard enough, maybe she could have got it caught on one of them and climbed off. Or maybe she would still be swinging in the air. She kept climbing.

At last, she reached her leaf. It smelled like home. Slivers of sunlight hit it just right: it was warm, but not too hot. She pinched its surface with each of her little feet. It was so good to be here. Then she crawled to the underside and took a nap.