Commonly Misused Words

Ahh, before we begin on the commonly misused words, I will make my announcement!

Drum roll please. Can you hear it? I know officially have a literary agent!

tell here are some commonly misused words

Frequently Confused Homonyms

English is replete with homonyms, words that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and mean different things

Gordon’s face occasionally twitched with a nervous tick.

Should be tic—a periodic spasm of the facial muscles Nothing to do with small bloodsucking arachnids

The wording of her ad peaked his interest

Should be piqued—aroused or excited Peak means to be at the maximum (interest has peaked, and will probably soon decline)

The report was divided into discreet sections

Should be discrete—individually distinct (Unless the sections were particularly good at keeping a confidence)

She could have born the news better if it had come later

Should be borne—past tense of “to bear”; that is, handled, coped with Nothing to do with being born (Note, though, that another usage of this word is related to birth: To “bear children” is to bring them into being, so a sentence could read “She had borne two children”)

Tall vases of flowers stood on either side of the alter.

altar—the structure in a place of worship Alter means to change something

Things did not appear to auger well

Should be augur—bode, portend An auger is a tool for boring holes

Emmeline’s diamond weighed a full sixtieth of a caret.

Should be carat—a unit of weight for jewels A caret is a small wedge-shaped mark (^) used by editors to indicate where text should be inserted

The villagers struggled to throw off the yolk of their invaders

Should be yoke—bondage or servitude (Unless the invaders had taken to throwing eggs at the locals)

The stationary supplies consisted of just a box of paper and a few pens

Should be stationery—writing materials Of course, paper and pens are characteristically stationary—not moving (A mnemonic that might help: Stationery includes envelopes)

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