Confusables –  Easily Confused Words

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She excepted/accepted his marriage proposal.

Everybody came to the party accept/except Jake.

How many of you have faced difficulties in using similar sounding words – accept or except , affect or effect, canvas or canvass, dissent or descent or decent – and many more ! Well, each one of us has faced such a situation at some point in our writing venture. Sometimes, the difference is in terms of whether  you want a noun or a verb – advice (to be used as a noun) and advise ( to be used as a verb). Sometimes, the difference lies in the usage of a word in a particular context – amicable (focus on friendly relationship between people) and amiable (focus on the person’s individual disposition). Most of the times, the difference can be easily perceived, but often when the meaning is clear, we end up using wrong words because of wrong spellings – an ‘a’ and an ‘e’ can confuse too ( as in stationary (at rest )  or stationery (writing paper and other materials) !!

So here is a list of commonly confusing words we come across in English.

Happy Learning !  🙂

Word Meaning Sentence
 Aberrant Departing from an accepted standard When the astronomer looked into the telescope, he was shocked by the sight of a star moving in an aberrant path.
 Abhorrent Inspiring disgust and loathing; repugnant, loathsome When the citizens learned about the abhorrent crime, they screamed for justice outside the police station.
The abhorrent individual was spurned by his fellow citizens because of his aberrant behavior.

                           

Abjure To give up belief or activity, renounce, relinquish, reject After the tyrant took over the country, the citizens had to abjure their political beliefs.
Adjure Urge or request (someone) solemnly or earnestly to do something. He adjured the editor to cease posting silly articles.
The minister adjured his wayward congregation to abjure the sins of the flesh.

                          

Amoral Lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something. Hugh grew up to be an amoral man because his parents never told him the difference between right and wrong.
Immoral Not conforming to or violating the accepted standards of morality. They considered colonialism to be immoral.
Sometimes it seems more shocking to be amoral than to be immoral.

  

Appraise Assess the value or quality of. His merits in this respect, however, can only be appraised by the study of his works at first hand.
Apprise Inform or tell (someone). Each week, the teachers apprise parents of their students’ progress by emailing grade reports.
After we have the jeweler appraise the diamond, we will apprise you of its value.

  

Averse Having a strong dislike of or opposition to something. As a former CIA director, he is not averse to secrecy.
Adverse Preventing success or development; harmful; unfavorable. Taxes are having an adverse effect on production.
I am averse to traveling in such adverse weather conditions.

    

Allude Suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at. The teacher asked the students to not allude to any online sources in their research papers.
Elude Escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way. He tried to elude the security men by sneaking through a back door
She would often allude to her childhood, when she would elude her brothers in a game of hide-and-seek.

  

Alleviate Make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe. To alleviate hunger in our town, each employee of our company donated five cans of food.
Ameliorate Make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better Not only did he ameliorate your grades, but he also found a way to enjoy learning.
Government agencies tried to alleviate the effects of the depression. They attempted to ameliorate the job-seeking process.

   

Amicable Friendliness or goodwill between people or group It was a relatively amicable divorce and at least they remain on speaking terms.
Amiable A person’ friendly disposition One former roommate described him as amiable and talkative
With amiable people like them, it’s not unusual to have an amicable divorce.

    

Afflict To cause suffering or unhappiness, like what a disease does.(Focus on the sufferer) It’s also quite likely that he was afflicted with an eating disorder
Inflict To force pain or suffering with focus on the person/thing causing the suffering. More aggressive Five other men accused of taking part in the fight were convicted of hooliganism and inflicting light bodily injury.
I am afflicted with something terrible, so I inflict injuries upon others.

   

Canvas A strong, coarse unbleached cloth made from hemp, flax, or a similar yarn, used to make items such as sails and tents and as a surface for oil painting. The painting is oil on canvas.
Canvass Solicit votes from (electors or members). In each ward, two workers canvassed some 2,000 voters.
We wore canvas shoes while we tried to canvass the entire neighborhood.

Want to learn more of these words?

I found an excellent site for such words. You can learn more such words here

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Hard Work Vs Luck

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Giving up all the pleasures

Burning the midnight oil

Way beyond all measures

That’s how hard he toiled !

       ~           

Day after day, night after night

Perseverance was his game

He never ever let out of sight,

His goal, his purpose, his aim !

          ~           

But on one arduous occasion,

Luck gave him no favor,

Left his morale with abrasions

His will power wavered.

           ~         

Disappointed and despondent,

He started doubting his merit,

Hard work was replaced by lament

Luck was something he did not inherit

          ~            

But then one fine day, he resolved

Not to give up in the fight

Failure made him evolve

Into a person of great will and might

~  

Numerous times in his struggle he fell

But he was never to be backed down

And steadily increased, his drive to excel

Toughest obstacle could not knock him down.

~  

Again he fell, and got up

And the cycle continued

Till the time when even Luck asked him

“What have you got in you ?”

~  

“Oh mighty warrior, the shining knight”

“I have tried my best to defeat you”

“But you bounce back every time

“How on earth, I have no clue”

~  

Persistent effort is the secret, he said

Hard work is the key

 Luck – “I can hold no longer, take your success

Today, you have defeated me ! “

~  

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Kingdom of Words

How many of you are of the view that English is not a technical language and that it is just a language of expression ? Well, nobody can deny the fact that all languages are medium of expressing one’s thoughts – English being one of them -but it does not end there. English is a highly technical language –  similar to all the 22 officially recognized languages in India and ‘God-knows-how-many‘ across the world. Every language has its set of technicalities and a systematic & structured approach. When you read a well structured article or a novel, you can easily understand the flow of ideas and views of the author, because he has interwoven his thoughts into words in a systematic,coherent manner. His ideas have a well defined path – not just roaming around. Following the same path, the author’s words enter your mind and get deeply engraved in it.

Just like there are various ways to solve a mathematical sum, there are numerous approaches to writing in English. I am not suggesting that only one of them is correct. The aim here is to get one’s ideas deeply engraved in the minds of the reader ( just like aim in maths is to get the answer ). Since, English is also a steadily evolving language, people have the privilege to experiment with their approaches in writing. We can enjoy the best of both worlds ! We do not have to restrict ourselves to rules all the time !

So keep experimenting and exploring the language with your own devised ways ! As for the technical part – here is a list of classes in which words are divided – often confused words ! In the future posts, I will introduce a new section – ‘Most Confused Words’ – a list of words that are most confused in English.

Happy Learning ! 🙂

Homophones – A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling.
 Same pronunciation
 Different meanings
 Different/Same spellings (homophones with same spellings are homonyms)

(Same spellings)
We saw a grizzly bear while vacationing in the mountains.
I can’t bear this burden any longer.

(Different spellings)
My son is presently in the military.
The sun is hidden behind the clouds.

Homonyms – Same words with same spelling and same pronunciation but have different meanings when used in different contexts.
 Same pronunciation
 Different meanings
 Same spellings
e.g. A bear (the animal) can bear (tolerate) very cold temperatures.

Homographs
 Different pronunciation
 Different meanings
 Same spelling

e.g. Wind: I need to wind the alarm clock so I can fly my kite in the early morning gusty wind.

e.g. Desert as in dry climate vs Desert as in leaving alone(they are pronounced differently)

Capitonyms

 Same spelling
  Different meanings on capitalization

e.g. May: In May(month), when spring is almost over, I may(auxiliary verb) pack away my winter clothes.

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Commonly Used Idioms Part – 6

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Let me tell you a well-known trick for remembering idioms with their meanings and usage. If you learn about the origin of the idiom, it will be very easy for you to remember them and use them as and when your writing skills demand ! In the last edition, I shared the origin of ‘Achilles’ heel’ idiom which was interesting and deserving enough to pique your curiosity. This time, I come with a hilarious origin tale – ‘Murphy’s law’. Don’t get deceived– this is not a scientific law ! 😉

This is a humorous adage which means that anything that can go wrong will go wrong !

OriginEdward A. Murphy, Jr. was one of the engineers on the rocket-sled experiments that were done by the U.S. Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981). One experiment involved a set of 16 accelerometers mounted to different parts of the subject’s body. There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its mount, and somebody methodically installed all 16 the wrong way around. Murphy then made the original form of his pronouncement.

Murphy’s Original Law – If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.

 Murphy’s Law – If anything can go wrong — it will.index

 Murphy’s First Corollary – Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

 Murphy’s Second Corollary – It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

For more info, read here

( It was a blast from the past – reminded me of the tough old days when I had to learn the physics laws !  🙂 )

Today, when we want to remind people that even if someone’s plan is well thought of and properly planned, yet there is scope of an error – we say ‘ Do not forget the Murphy law’ ! 😀

You can find hilarious interpretations of Murphy’s making rounds on the internet ! Do check them out !

Happy learning !

Idiom Meaning Sentence
Shy of Having less of something that is needed or expected She was two days shy of her 19th birthday.
Go south To go down, to fall The economy was growing but the things went south after the recession.
One’s goose is cooked One is finished; one has been found out and is in trouble. If I get caught, my goose is cooked.
To be in the eye of the storm To be very much involved in an argument or problem that affects a lot of people International aid agencies were in the eye of the storm when war broke out in the country.
Fit the bill To be suitable for a particular purpose The city needs a strong leader, and the new mayor just doesn’t fill the bill.
Nothing to write home about Mediocre; not as good as you expected. I went to that new restaurant last night. It’s nothing to write home about.
Blue collar Relating to manual work or workers, particularly in industry Blue collar workers in the factories and shipyards were demanding wage increases.
White Collar Relating to the work done or the people who work in an office or other professional environment. The ratio of white-collar workers to production workers in the manufacturing industry was declining.
Scratch the surface To examine only the superficial aspects of something. We don’t know how bad the problem is. We’ve only scratched the surface.
Bring something/someone to knees To destroy or defeat someone or something. To reduce to a position of subservience or submission. The strikes brought the economy to its knees.
Of age Old enough to be considered an adult. He’s of age now; he can buy his own car.
Acid test A test which will really prove the value, quality, or truth of something The acid test for the product will be whether people actually buy it.
Cut the ground from under someone’s feet To make someone or their ideas seem less good, especially by doing something before them or better than them ( to weaken someone’s position) The opposition claimed today’s speech was an attempt by the government to cut the ground from under their feet.
Chase one’s tail To be very busy doing a lot of things, but achieving very little He’s been chasing his tail all week collecting data but the report is still not ready
Think on one’s feet To think and react quickly, especially in a situation where things are happening very fast A good sales man must be able to think on his feet to close the deal.
To not let grass grow under feet Don’t delay in getting something done, always on the move As soon as he finished all the registration formalities, he put the house on sale. He doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet.
Be waiting in the wings Waiting for an opportunity to take action, mostly to replace someone else in their job. The senior manager is going to retire in next 2 months. Two of his juniors who are waiting in the wings will have a fierce competition.
Fever pitch A state of extreme excitement. The football crowd was at fever pitch.
Cut someone to the quick Hurting someone deeply or offending them. Joe had worked for 10 years with all his loyalty for his company. He was cut to the quick when his boss held him responsible for the theft.
Have one’s heart in the right place To have good intentions, even if there are bad results. Good old Tom! His gifts are always tacky, but his heart’s in the right place.
Murphy’s law Anything that can go wrong will go wrong If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it. We may think we’ve covered all the details for the benefit, but remember Murphy’s law
Go up in smoke If a plan or some work goes up in smoke, it is spoiled or wasted Then his business went bankrupt and 20 years of hard work went up in smoke.
On an even keel Stable, balanced You should know the syllabus and plan well ahead so that your exam preparation goes on even keel
When the dust settles When things have calmed down When the dust settles, we can start patching up all the hurt feelings.
On the boil If a situation or feeling is on the boil, it is very strong or active The corruption scandal is being kept on the boil by a series of new revelations.
White elephant A possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of. The old building is a white elephant of the housing society.
Put to sword If someone/something is put to sword, he/she/it is killed or executed. The notion that the country’s economy is stable is being put to sword by the current market conditions.

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Build Your Vocabulary Part – 8

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Well, since the inception of my ‘Build your Vocabulary’ posts, I have been reiterating the fact that English is a diverse and evolved language, comprising of humongous number of words – many of its own and many borrowed from other languages. I had been focusing only on the quantity – but today I wish to talk about the power a word can have, on your mood, on your relationships, on your life and on you. It might be difficult to believe that words have tremendous power to change situations. A word of cheer can lift your mood, a word of trust can enliven your relationship, and a word of wisdom can give a whole new meaning to your life and change you as a person. Similarly, on the darker side, careless choice of words can be hurtful and dangerous. I intend not to scare you but to make you privy to the enormous power words have and encourage you to harness the power in the best interests of all.A marketing company’s tagline captures the essence of my message- Choose Wisely, Live Well !

Happy Learning ! 🙂

Word Meaning Sentence
Predilection Bias, a preference or special liking for something Your predilection for employees from you native state is pretty evident.
Diabolic Characteristic of the devil, Mephistophelian, wicked, fiendish, malevolent, The diabolical expression on his face was noticeable after he committed the crime.
Syncretic The combination of different forms of belief or practice Religious syncretism is at the heart of a diversified world.
Pique A feeling of irritation or resentment resulting from a slight, especially to one’s pride. Arouse interest or curiosity He was left in a fit of pique when he was denied entry to the prestigious award ceremony.  Hopefully the movie trailer will pique the interest of moviegoers and motivate them to buy tickets to see the film.
Staunch very loyal and committed in attitude Since the two countries are staunch allies it is not surprising they will work together in the war to defeat their shared enemy.
Aplomb Calm self confidence Antonyms : gaucheness Being an orator par excellence, he can deliver any speech with aplomb.
Consonance Agreement, harmony, concord, accord Consonance among all the members of a team, leads to a better performance.
Partisan Prejudiced in favor of a particular cause. Because of your partisan views, you are unwilling to look at other options.
Moratorium A temporary prohibition of an activity. Potential business owners are angry because the county has passed a moratorium on new business licenses.
Clemency Mercy, lenience In their letter to the governor, the victim’s family asked him not to give clemency to their son’s murderer.
Salubrious Healthy, pleasant Vegetables are salubrious foods which provide essential nutrients.
indefatigable Tireless, (of efforts) persisting tirelessly The director of the homeless shelter is an indefatigable woman who works almost eighteen hours every day.
Pastoral A work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life. The story, though a pastoral, has an actual connection with the life of agricultural labor.
Lingua franca  (Italian origin) A language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different. The official language and de facto lingua franca of this country is the English language.
De facto  (Latin origin) In Latin, it means ‘of fact’ Existing or holding a specified position in fact but not necessarily by legal right. The official language and de facto lingua franca of this country is the English language.
Obfuscation To deliberately make something confusing or difficult to understand The loan contract was filled with legal words meant to obfuscate trusting borrowers.
Intelligentsia Intellectuals or highly educated people as a group, especially when regarded as possessing culture and political influence. The intelligentsia of this country has a great influence on the government.
Stalemate a position counting as a draw, in which a player is not in check but cannot move except into check. The government has convened an all-party meeting on Monday to discuss ways to end the stalemate in Parliament.
Obduracy The quality of being obstinate, stubborn or intractable. Your obduracy on this deal has worsened the matter.
Buttress A source of defense or support. Increase the strength or justification for, reinforce After the humiliating way his girlfriend dumped him, his friends rallied to his side to act as a buttress to his deflated ego.
dissidence Protest against official policy The dissident ministers opposed the newly passed bill.
Dissension Disagreement that leads to discord. This maneuver caused dissension within feminist ranks
Cadence Measure or beat of movement A consistent rhythm or beat We were happy when our fast-talking professor started to speak in a slow cadence we could understand.
Perfidy The state of being deceitful and untrustworthy. If you do business with criminals, you should not be shocked when their perfidy comes back to you in the form of a bullet in the back.
Cabal A secret political clique or faction. The cabal of dissident employees is plotting against the executive group.
Cantankerous Bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative. He can be a cantankerous old fossil at times. (Here, fossil means a person who is outdated and resistant to change.)
Aspersion An attack on the reputation or the integrity of someone or something, calumny I don’t think anyone is casting aspersions on you.
Maim Wound or injure so that a part of the body is permanently damaged Jake is an irresponsible driver who will most likely take a life or maim someone eventually.

Parents, you are wrong when ………

Parents are the angels we have on Earth who take care of us, when God is too busy maintaining balance and peace in the world. This position of theirs earns respect and gratitude of the child. Believe me when I say that every child feels (and should feel) indebted to his parents, for giving him life and more importantly for making it worth living, at some or all times throughout his existence on Earth. Parents are like the anchor of our boat, keeping us afloat in this gigantic ocean of worldly drifts and waves.be-affectionate

But does that mean they cannot do anything wrong? No, it does not.

Parents are wrong when they lay too much pressure on their child to excel in the ongoing rat race to prove one’s worth in this materialistic world. I am not generalizing here. I know there are many parents who support their child through thick and thin. And if you are one of them, I salute you!

But then, I also know about parents for whom boasting about their child’s success and achievement is so important to maintain their ‘status’ in the society, that in the process of creating a success story, they often lead to tales of broken dreams. They want to produce geniuses. And in this era of cut throat competition, they want their child to go to a reputed college, earn a hefty salary and marry a partner of their choice. Looks extremely well planned, isn’t it ? But I tend to disagree. Between all the meticulous contemplation and planning about a child’s future, where have they taken into account their child’s dreams and aspirations? Parents might put forth an argument that they have seen the world and they are experienced enough to judge what is good for their child and what is bad. I totally agree. 2015-02-12-13-02-59.shattered dreamBut how is crushing of a child’s dreams would do any good to him. I know ‘crushing’ is a harsh word to use in this context but I don’t intend to use euphemism when I want to express my views clearly and without any softening or exaggeration. In certain situations, parents might not even know that they are ‘crushing’ their child’s dream. Ignoring it and asking him to blindly follow the rat in the race cannot absolve them of the fact that they are killing the seed inside him which can give birth to a tree in future. Or even if it is not a tree, even if it is just a sapling – yet a sapling is better than a dead and a wasted seed.428c516b7a78d17d0abc6a7fbd726081

A child is already indebted to his parents. He always wants to give them all the happiness of the world and make them feel proud. But does that mean he has to do everything that his parents’ desire irrespective of what he truly yearns for- ignoring his own dreams? After all, parents want them to be happy, right! What if he is happy doing his own little thing rather than walking the trodden path? Parents want best for their child but what if their perception of best for him isn’t aligned with his happiness? What if he is happy following his risky and uncertain field of interest and not the conventional and certain area of employment?

What if his heart is full when his pockets are not? What if his eyes shine and not his resume?

What if a distant relative or an insensitive neighbor doesn’t approve of your child’s ‘unusual success story’. It will still be a success story for him.

What if your child scores less than what you expected – what if he is not the topper but your neighbor’s kid is ? Should that mean he does not deserve to be your kid or you should pay less attention on him and concentrate more on your younger kid who excels in his education? Should that mean he isn’t a man of good character – worthy of every happiness and love?

You might feel by now that I am too rude or too insensitive and cynical about parent’s emotions and intentions. Or I am a rebellious child myself trying to let off the steam by pouring my frustration out into words. Believe me, I am not. What I am doing here is sharing my experience, not as a victim, but as a witness of the sufferings of an oppressed child who is so low on confidence today because of his/her failure to prove his worth to his/her parents. Let’s call him/her X. X considers himself a loser because he is not able to satisfy his parents’ ever-growing expectations. He has achieved a lot in his life, but not enough to achieve his parent’s satisfaction.

00221917e13e0f4d267d1aDo you approve of this? Should parents burden their child with so many expectations that a child spends his entire life trying to prove his worth?

Why are studies and grades a metric to judge whether a child is a good child or not? Why is a resume a standard to declare a child successful and not his character or nature? Why a child is always marked on his intellectual abilities rather than humane feelings and demeanor?

This culture is so deeply rooted in our society that I fear children losing the courage to confront their parents with their dreams. And therefore, parents need to understand and the younger generation needs to learn.

I am never going to let my child feel what X felt.

I will water the seed inside my little kid’s heart and will watch it grow. Whether it grows into a big, lush tree or a tiny sapling – future will tell – neither do I care because I will be busy looking at the smile on my kid’s face !

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P.S – My idea is not to offend parents in general or doubt their sincere intentions for their kids, neither I am painting parents as dream-killers. I just want to give every parent a chance to reconsider their parenting – to make sure they do not fall into the category of dream-killers.

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