Thursday, May 8, 2014

Common Confusion

I've noticed that spelling, punctuation and grammar seem to be less and less important to people, causing them to say things that don't make sense or are not what they want to say. Thus, I thought I'd write a helpful blog to point out the differences. Sometimes people legitimately don't know the difference, but with the frequent "helpful" nature of autocorrect, these mistakes are sometimes thanks to machine error.


Accept = to choose to agree
Except = indicates exclusion
You just need to accept that all mammals, except for whales, dolphins and a few others, live on land.

Ado = bother
Adieu = French for "good bye" (with the expectation of never seeing the person again)
Without further ado, I fear I must bid you adieu.

Affect = a verb
Effect = a noun
If you are going to affect change, it's going to leave an effect on people.

Alumni = the plural form (at least one person among those mentioned is male)
Alumnus = the singular masculine form
Alumna = the singular feminine form
Alumnae = the plural feminine form
John is an alumnus of Harvard. Alice is an alumna of Yale. Mary and Sue are alumnae of Princeton. They are all alumni of Ivy League schools. It's a Latin thing.

Are = present tense plural and second person of "to be" (We are, They are, You are)
Our = belonging to us
Are you sure that's our octopus?

Asterisk = a punctuation mark (*) commonly used for footnotes, bullet points, and other purposes; also called a star
Asterix = a French comic book superhero with super strength and speed (That is, the comic strip is from France. Asterix is a Gaul, but then technically, the Gauls are now called French...)

Caesar better be careful not to use so many asterisks when writing about his laurel wreath*, or Asterix might steal it!
*See Asterix and the Laurel Wreath, which doesn't technically involve an asterisk

Bazaar = a market, often involving crafts
Bizarre = very strange
I thought it was bizarre that they were selling knitted platypi at the bazaar.

Blonde = a female with blond hair
Blond = a male with blond hair


Brunette = a female with brown hair
Brunet = a male with brown hair


Desert = a large expanse of hot sand; deserts sometimes have plants such as cacti and others, or they can be full of sand dunes and no vegetation
Desert = to abandon
Dessert = something people eat after a meal
No need to desert us to eat your dessert in the desert!

Draught = the British spelling of "draft"
Drought = a period where food and water are scarce
In periods of drought, people often wish for a draught of water.

e.g. = exempli gratia, Latin for "for example" - giving an example
i.e. = id est, Latin for "that is" - explaining what you mean
Science fiction often uses robots; e.g., R2-D2, #5, WALL-E, etc. As our society becomes more automated, we may end up using them more and more in reality. But will they look humanoid; i.e., like us?

Grammar = the proper way to construct sentences
Grammer = an actor known for his portrayal of Frasier, Beast (X-Men) and others
Kelsey Grammer has excellent grammar.

It's = short for "it is"
Its = belonging to it
It's interesting how a snake sheds its skin.

Lose = the opposite of "to win" or "to gain"
Loose = the opposite of "tight"
I wish kids wouldn't wear their pants so loosely. They're liable to lose them!

Loser = one who loses (doesn't win or gain)
Looser = more loose (not tight)
Losers of weight often find their pants get looser and need to get smaller pants. Maybe certain teenagers would enjoy the looser pants.

Metal = an element that clangs when you bang on it; e.g., gold, tin, silver, steel, copper
Medal = a reward that is often made of metal
All the medals given out at the competition were made of metal.

Pallet = a portable platform used for hauling freight
Palette = a small board used for mixing paint
Palate = the top of the inside of the mouth
The artist specializes in unconventional paintings. This one shows a forklift lifting boxes on a pallet. As you can see, the boxes are full of fruit that looks like you could just reach out and taste it. The canvas might be tough on the palate, though, so I don't recommend it. The painter's palette clearly got a lot of use.

Precedent = an event that affects future decisions
President = the head of a government or company
The president's poor choices may set a bad precedent. (Note: This is not a commentary on any specific president!)

Role = the character someone plays in a play, or a person's job
Roll = to turn over and over, or a kind of pastry
I played the role of the baker in the opera. I baked lots of rolls. My character also enjoyed rolling down hills.

Sight = something seen
Site = a location
Cite = giving credit where credit is due
The construction site is quite a sight! Just be sure to cite your sources when writing about it.

Stationary = not moving, perfectly still
Stationery = paper used for writing letters
When writing letters by hand, it's best to hold the stationery stationary. Otherwise, it might be difficult to read.

There = in that place, over there
Their = belonging to them
They're = short for "They are" or "They were" (usually "They are")
They're right over there with their geoducks.

Through = indicating transit
Though = in spite of
Threw = past tense of "to throw"
Thru = finished
Even though he knew better, that kid just threw the ball through the window! As a result, his baseball days are thru.

To = indicating transfer, from one to another
To = precedes the infinitive of a verb (e.g., "to eat")
Too = also or excessively
Two = the second number, 2
I want to come to the two concerts too!

Were = past tense plural and second person of "to be" (We were, They were, You were)
Were- = the first syllable of werewolf; in this case, "were" means "man"
We're = short for "We are" or "We were" (usually "We are")
Where = an inquiry about the location of someone or something
Wear = to be clothed, or to slowly decay from frequent use
We're sure those were the werewolves you were looking for, but where did they go? They were wearing our shirts. I just hope they don't wear them out!

Whose = belonging to whom
Who's = short for "Who is"
All right, who's the wise guy whose dog just barked the rhythm of "Jingle Bells" in May?

Your = belonging to you
You're = short for "you are"
You're sure that's your aardvark, right?



A lot = two words!

All right = also two words!

OK = an acronym that stands for "Oll Korrect." When it was coined, they changed the spelling of "all correct" to form a new term. While "okay" is not technically wrong (see the article linked in this point), "OK" is more correct.

Wherefore = why (not where). Thus, Juliet is not wondering where Romeo is. She's wondering why she had to go and fall in love with a member of their rival clan.

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