Questions regarding words/phrases which are commonly confused with one another

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5
votes
4answers
18k views

You didn't miss me, right? (possible answer with correct use of English)

A) No, I didn't miss you. B) Yes, I didn't miss you. C) No, I did miss you. D) Yes, I did miss you. According to my common sense perfect answers can be C) and B) only, and reason behind it is- ...
4
votes
4answers
743 views

Does one “douse” or “dowse” a spotlight or projector?

A recent SMS conversation has prompted me to question my use of "dowse", "dowsing", and so on in relation to lighting instruments and projection equipment. I do not remember from where I got this ...
2
votes
3answers
6k views

“Location” vs. “locality” [closed]

I can't seem to find a good explanation of what the differences are between the words location and locality. Are they interchangeable, or are there certain contexts in which one or the other must be ...
35
votes
3answers
17k views

Why is there confusion between depreciated and deprecated?

For at least a year and half, I read "deprecated" as "depreciated", even when writing it down myself, I would spell it as "depreciated", even though pretty much every time I read it, it was spelt ...
8
votes
2answers
43k views

Can one “affect” change?

In an article today in the Christian Science Monitor, they give a Fox transcript of Palin's recent speech as follows: “Somebody like me – is a title and is a campaign too shackling?” said Palin. ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Difference in usage between “ostensive” and “ostensible” [closed]

I know that ostensive and ostensible are both adjectives, but can someone give me proper usage of each in their adjective forms? In their adverb forms, they almost sound identical.
11
votes
3answers
103k views

“Without further adieu” vs “Without further ado” [closed]

I have just seen an email containing the phrase "Without further adieu"; I always thought it was "Without further ado." Which is it?
22
votes
3answers
82k views

“Alternately” or “alternatively”

What is the difference between alternately and alternatively? I've seen both words being used, but which one is grammatically correct? He could do X. Or alternately, he could do Y. He could do ...
3
votes
3answers
353 views

Usage of 'customs' in lieu of 'immigration'

Over at the Travel SE beta (it's in private beta so I'm not sure how many here will be able to access it), I came across a question whether the OP uses "clearance through US Customs" when I'm ...
9
votes
7answers
3k views

Simple sentences that demonstrate differences among similar-looking words [closed]

While searching online for the difference between "sometime" and "some time", I stumbled upon this page. At the middle of the page you can see these two sentences that demonstrate the difference: ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Any website to look up words with similar pronunciation or spelling?

Is there any website(s) to look up words with similar pronunciation or spelling? For example: stack, steak, stake, stick. (It can help me as a non-native English speaker to learn confusing words.)
-2
votes
3answers
297 views

use of contractions (and some homophones)

Is it true that the current usage and spelling of words like we're/were, there/they're/their, your/you're, etc. is shifting? I heard that in the next generation the apostrophe may be disappearing in ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between sugar cane and cane sugar?

I've heard people use them interchangeably. Just so I don't go crazy, what is the difference?
3
votes
3answers
6k views

When to use “essay” vs “assay” (as a verb)?

By the dictionary definition as a verb, I can see that essay and assay have the same meaning, i.e. "make an effort or attempt". I'm wondering if they are totally interchangeable, or is there a ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

“Invidious” vs. “Insidious”

Can anyone give me a really short & sharp distinction between these two words? Are they notorious for often getting mixed up?
1
vote
4answers
65k views

How do you differentiate “thru”, “threw”, “through”, and “thorough”?

How do I know which word to use in the correct context? How do I recognize these words when hearing them? Examples: Jimmy threw the ring at Emiko. Elvis walked through the door. ...
3
votes
4answers
14k views

What is this phrase, “I hope we catch up,” called when “catch” may be confused with what's done with a baseball?

I asked someone “I hope we catch up soon” and he imagined himself being lightly or violently tossed in the air hoping someone will catch him. Obviously a non-native English speaker. Is there a term ...
22
votes
2answers
114k views

“Farthest” vs. “furthest”

My spellchecker insists on replacing "furthest" with "farthest". I was under the impression that farthest is strictly speaking in terms of distance, whereas furthest is more abstract. A poster on ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Biweekly, bimonthly, semi-confused [closed]

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion surrounding the meaning of the prefix bi when used with units of time measurement. Biweekly, according to dictionary.com, can mean either "occurring twice ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it absolutely necessary to use “than” over “then” in a comparison? [closed]

Do you think you are smarter then me? While this question should be using than...I have to wonder if this is a debatable topic within English or is this cut and dry? If this specific instance is ...
1
vote
4answers
187 views

Present, present, and present?

Please present your next idea. Did you buy her a present? No vacancies at present. Do all the bold words have the same spelling, yet all of them have different meanings based on the ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

An International English Olympiad question

I had recently appeared for an English Olympiad, and this particular question confused me: Q) Choose the odd pair: A. cat:feline B. monkey:simian C. horse:stallion D. cow:bovine Now, the ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between “palazzo” and “palace”?

I have noticed that palazzo is used not only in Italian but in English too. So what is the difference between palazzo, and palace (in English)?
2
votes
4answers
511 views

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? What about other modifiers?

Aren't adverbs related to the closest word? Does nightly in nightly business report refer to business? Update: I am still confused. Is relation of non-adverb modifiers different from that of ...
35
votes
3answers
252k views

What's the difference between “eldest” and “oldest”?

When should I use "eldest" and when should I use "oldest"? Are the differences semantic or regional? (Or both?) (What got me wondering is the removeEldestEntry() method in Java's LinkedHashMap ...
1
vote
3answers
696 views

What is “the hottest seat/seed in town”?

What is "the hottest seat/seed in town"? I am not sure if it's a seed or seat or something else. I heard it a few times on "CNN" when a new upcoming "Larry King Live" program was being advertised. ...
29
votes
8answers
117k views

Is it correct to say Person A is the “spitting image” or the “splitting image” of Person B?

I understand that when trying to describe a person who has a resemblance to another, the common term is spitting image. As in: Person A is a spitting image of Person B. Here's my issue, I've ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Easy trick to remember difference between beside <-> besides

I really struggle with these two. I never seem to be able to remember when to use the right one. All my english teachers so far told me the difference but still I'm not able to remember the ...
2
votes
3answers
13k views

Can “whatever” be split into two words?

I tend to write, "say whatever they want", but I'm always tempted to write "say what ever they want". Is it acceptable to split the word in this context?
11
votes
10answers
20k views

How do you remember the difference between a “stalactite” and a “stalagmite”?

Is there a good mnemonic for remembering the difference between "stalactite" (hangs down) and "stalagmite" (points up)?
30
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between “everyday” and “every day”?

I constantly see "everyday" being used in cases where the writer really means "every day". For example, here's a sentence from Google's eBooks documentation: "New titles are being added to Google ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How did the word “busybody” end up meaning so different from what it appears on its face to imply?

When I learned the word busybody the first time, I was in 5th grade. It appeared in a story I had to learn for class. I figured it meant someone who was very busy, and didn't bother to look it up. ...
8
votes
3answers
60k views

“Emigrant” vs. “immigrant”

While studying one word substitution I came across these two words, what I understood till now is like this: Emigrant: One who leaves his own country to reside to another. Immigrant: A person who ...
21
votes
5answers
52k views

“Electronic” vs. “electric”

Most people would refer to computers as being electronic, whereas a flashlight would be described as electric. I know the general difference (electronic devices use transistors?), but what is it ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “raise” and “rise”?

What is the difference between raise and rise? When and how should I use each one?
34
votes
2answers
42k views

When I should use “assure” vs. “ensure” vs. “insure”?

When is it appropriate to use assure vs. ensure vs. insure?
28
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the difference between “lay” and “lie”?

How do I know when to use lay and when to use lie, and what are the different forms of each verb? I'm always getting them confused.