Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Motive vs. Motivation

Motive and motivation 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.

Motive (pronounced “moh-tihv”) is a noun. It means an attitude or basis for taking a specific course of action. In law enforcement, a key crime solving tactic is determining the motive for a murder, and from there, who possessed that motive.

Motivation (pronounced “moh-tih-veh-shun”) is a noun.

  • It means a state of being energized and focused in executing tasks or problems.
  • It can also mean the source or basis for a set of actions.
  • In live theater plays or movies, actors may ask “what’s my (character’s) motivation?” They ask this to get to know their character and that person’s outlook on life. They ask this so they can step in that character’s shoes more effectively and present them as realistically as possible.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Major had zero motivation to mow the lawn all summer long for his parents. So he did it, but in the most sloppy, unattractive manner. When his parents got home from work, they saw how horrible the lawn looked. His mom asked, “Why would you do such a bad job on our lawn? What’s your motive?”

“If I did a bad enough job, you wouldn’t ask me to do it again. Just hire a lawn crew like other, normal people do.”

“I can’t abide that attitude, son. Mowing lawns is a great way to make cash for your future. I think you should join a lawn crew. Not just learn how to mow a lawn correctly, but what a work ethic is. Your video game days are done for three months, and you’re getting a flip phone. No social media either.”

Major’s forehead hit the wall. This had really backfired. 

 

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Know vs. Now

Know and Now 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.

Know (pronounced “n-oh”; k is silent.) is a verb. It means to possess awareness and intellect on a subject, or subjects.

Now (pronounced “nuh-ohw”) is a preposition. Prepositions tend to indicate location in physical space, or in time. Now means the current time,  the current moment. Just now means something that happened in the last few minutes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Knox prided himself always being on top of the latest trends–from film, to books, to music, to politics, to fashion. He had a blog and podcast called “Knox Knows All About the Now.” Eventually he shortened that to “The Now with Knox.”

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Deprecate vs. Depreciate

Deprecate and depreciate 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.

Deprecate (pronounced “dep-ruh-kate” ) is a verb. It means to express discontent or disapproval of, to demean, to belittle. In pop language, “throwing shade” is a way of deprecating someone.

Depreciate (pronounced “dee-prish-ee-ate”) is a verb. It means to decrease the value of a piece of property. It can also mean the value of a piece of property losing value.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Daphne bought the best car she could afford, brand new. It depreciated $3000 right off the lot, which was expected. But she was enraged when it turned out to be a lemon. She joined a disgruntled Yeah cars owners messageboard, and deprecated their brand publicly every chance she got. 

Easily Confused Words, Uncategorized

Easily Confused Words: Some vs. Sum

Some and sum 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.

Some has multiple forms that all revolve around an ambiguous quantity.

  • As a pronoun, it means a group, usually people, of an unknown, but significant number: i.e., Some feel fried chicken isn’t healthy.
  • As an adjective, it modifies a noun: some days, some people, some cats. Again your talking about a group of things, but you are identifying those things.
  • As an adverb, it modifies a number or another approximation.

Sum also has multiple forms.

  • As a noun, it means the answer of an addition problem.
  • As a noun, it means the total of the components or parts of something.
  • As a verb, it means to do the math, to survey, to determine the results.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Sommersby was finding it difficult to sum up how he felt about his latest breakup; he had thought Simone was the one, and now it was over. It was going to take some time. 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Rein vs. Reign

Rein and reign 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 suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Rein is a noun. It means the leather straps attached to a horses bridle that are used to guide the horse’s direction, so the rider can tell the horse to speed up, veer left, veer right, slow down, or stop. Typically the rider is also speaking to the horse with specific words in unison with the reins’ motion.

Figuratively, “taking the reins” is the same as “taking the wheel”. Both phrases mean to take control or charge of something, like a big project, because the current person is incapacitated, or has completely lost interest.

Reign is a noun. It means the ruling time period for an emperor, king/queen, or other monarch. Right now, the UK is in the reign of Elizabeth II. Japan is in the reign of Emperor Akihito. Sweden is in the reign of Carl XV Gustaf, Netherlands is in the reign of Willem-Alexander.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Rainier’s brother abdicated the throne. He ended his reign abruptly because his new foreign lover would never be accepted as a royal. Though he didn’t love the spotlight, his younger brother Rainier took the reins of responsibility and ascended to the throne. Rainier and Queen Carmen Marguerite reigned during a particularly turbulent period in its history. Every king must be honored and served in their time, but Rainier’s people actually seemed to love him and have tremendous faith in his leadership. 

This post is related to another one: Rain vs. Reign.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Distain vs. Disdain

Distain and disdain 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.

Distain (pronounced “dihs-tane”) is a verb. It means to soil one’s clothes, furniture, or another surface. [Yes, this is one of those odd times in English where “stain” and “distain” mean basically the same thing.]

Figuratively, distain could be used to indicate damaging something more abstract, like a reputation or a public persona.

Disdain (pronounced “dihs-dane”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means showing contempt or extreme dislike of others, or behaving in snobbish, unresponsive way, as if another person isn’t worthy of engaging with or responding to in any fashion.
  • As a noun, it means an attitude of extreme dislike, contempt that’s reflected in a person’s speech or behavior towards someone or something else. In this year’s election cycle (2016), we’ve seen a whole lot of disdain on display from presidential candidates, surrogates, and political action committees (PACs).

The following story uses both words correctly:

Eurydice sensed her fellow beauty contestants disdained her. They would try anything to get her disqualified. It was confirmed when Donatella dropped some makeup. It distained Eurydice’s skirt right before she went onstage to sing. Thankfully she had brought a spare outfit, and changed in the nick of time. 

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Whirls vs. Whorls

Whirls and whorls 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.

Whirls is a plural noun. Literally, whirls are swirling patterns, like funneling water or another liquid being pulled down from the center in a circular motion.

Whorls is a plural noun. Whorls are the wavy and loopy line patterns that form a spiral shape. They are found in wood grains, and found on the skin of some people’s fingers and toes.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Little Whitney loved to visit the lakes and rivers near her hometown. She and her dad often went canoeing. She dipped her whorled fingertips into the water whirls created by her dad’s paddle. Occasional fish swam up and softly nibbled her fingers. She realized she really loved nature. One day she would be an explorer, or park ranger.