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Math vs. Maths

By any name, writers as a group have encountered no enemy quite so intractable as the enemy of mathematics. Writers don’t understand numbers. We don’t trust them. Nonetheless, mathematics is part of life, and we must learn to accept the things we...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Material vs. Materiel

English, like any written language, has countless words that changing even one letter will spell an entirely different word. No writer is immune from these mistakes, and their presence has the potential to alter the meaning of your sentence to someth...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Master vs. Mister

The words master and mister are confusing. They are spelled with only one letter’s difference, but they do not reference the same meanings. To make things even more complicated, master has more than one meaning, and one has dropped out of modern us...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Many vs. Much

Quantities and volumes can be confusing in English. Some nouns can be counted as individual items, while others cannot. There is a large amount of shade during the late evening, and there are several shades of orange and gold in the sky during these ...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Mantel vs. Mantle

If humans tried hard enough, we could probably devise a language rich enough so that every word had a single meaning, separate from all other words, and they would all be pronounced distinctly from one another to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, whoev...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Frequently Asked Questions

A lot or Alot? A or An? Accept or Except? Acronyms and Initialisms? Active or Passive Verbs? Affect or Effect? All Ready or Already? Allusion or Illusion? Among or Amongst? Among or Between? Amount or Number? And or But to begin a sentence? Annota...

added by anonymous
1 year ago

Why The English Language Is So Hard To Learn

The bandage was wound around the wound.The farm was used to produce produce.The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.We must polish the Polish furniture.He could lead if he would get the lead out.The soldier decided to desert his desser...

added by acronimous
1 year ago

Log In vs. Login

The digital revolution has expanded the number of words we need to describe the events and actions of our daily lives. However, as with all growth, some new elements can be confusing. Due to the rapid adoption of password protection as a security fea...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lonely vs. Alone

Have you ever been happy to be by yourself? Has there been another time when you were by yourself, but wishing for the company of others? In both of these situations, you were alone. But you were only lonely in one of them. Alone and lonely are two a...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lose vs. Loss

Both loss and lost have to do with losing. To lose something is to misplace it, to fail to win, to get rid of, or a number of other meanings. Although loss and lost both deal with the same subject, they perform different functions in a sentence.In th...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Macro vs. Micro

English words can be modified through many different methods. One of these methods is through prefixing. English has many prefixes, some of which refer to units of relative size. These prefixes can often be so similar that they refer to different deg...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Maize vs. Maze

If you were stuck in a confusing task that involved navigating a pathway from one point to another, what would you call it? Would you use the same word that you would use to refer to a widely planted grain crop that originated in Mexico? Initially, i...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Make Do vs. Make Due

When plans go awry, sometimes we are forced to make the best of it, even if the circumstances are less than perfect. Giving up is usually not an option, and when it is an option, it is probably not the best option. Carrying through even when things g...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Loath vs. Loathe

As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, most of the confusions in language have nothing to do with grammar at all. Instead, the linguistic issues that writers and editors grapple with most commonly concern usage. The words loathe and loath are good ex...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Licence vs. License

It’s easy to make spelling mistakes. All writers make them. Sometimes, however, words have more than one accepted spelling. This is the case with licence and license. They are two variants of the same word, but they refer to different parts of spee...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lighted vs. Lit

Verb conjugation is tricky in any language, and English is no exception. Many writers confuse variations of past tense for irregular verbs, like to light. Lighted and lit are both past tense forms of this verb, but, in some cases, there is a preferen...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Light vs. Lite

Many words in English have multiple spellings. Sometimes these spellings are interchangeable, but often, they denote completely different meanings. Lite and light are two such words. They sound the same but are spelled differently, making them homoph...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lightening vs. Lightning

Mark Twain is famous for saying, “The right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Given that this famous quote involves one of today’s words, I thought I would include it as a reminder that c...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Liquor vs. Liqueur

Writers are notorious for their predilection for stiff drinks—Ernest Hemingway was a famous drunk, and later, authors like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson followed in his footsteps. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you’d better ...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Literally vs. Figuratively

Literally is a word that is thrown around quite loosely these days. You will often hear it dropped into casual conversation to describe circumstances or events that cannot by any means be meant literally. So in order to keep our writing precise and a...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Learned vs. Learnt

Many words are spelled differently in American and British English, even if they fulfill the same function in a sentence. Learnt and learned are two different spellings of the same verb. One is accepted in British English, but not in American English...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lend vs. Loan

If you are applying for a loan from the bank, you will want to ensure that your writing is impeccably professional. Proper word choice is an important part of formal writing. English has many words that refer to the borrowing of goods and money. Two ...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lens vs. Lense

Since many English words can be spelled more than one way, it might be tempting to assume that all words in English have multiple accepted spellings. Of course, that is not the case. The vast majority of words have only one standard spelling, and man...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Lets vs. Let’s

Contractions are a perpetual source of confusion for beginning and experienced writers alike. Some contractions are even spelled the same as other words that aren’t contractions, with only the apostrophe revealing its true nature. Adding to the con...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

Liar vs. Lier

Homophones are perpetually confusing to those who are not intimately familiar with a language. These words have identical pronunciations, but different meanings. Lier and liar are two remarkable homophones, in that they derive from the multiple sense...

added by angbeenc
1 year ago

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