If you love words, you know how confusing the English language can be.
Consider this simple choice. Would you say:
Over a dozen skiers flew over the jump.
Or would you say:
More than a dozen skiers made it over the jump.
Here are 10 sets of words from my latest favorite book, Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters by Barbara McNichol.
1) browse vs. peruse
Browse means to look at or review something in a casual or leisurely way.
Peruse means to look at something in a thorough or careful way.
When we read a newsletter, we might browse through it, scanning headlines and photos to see what grabs our attention.
When we peruse a report, we look at it in detail, thoroughly examining its content.
2) convince vs. persuade
Convince means to cause a person to believe firmly in the truth of something.
Persuade means using reason or argument to get someone to take action.
After I convinced him of the importance of water conservation, I persuaded him to redesign his landscaping with rocks and drought-resistant plants.
3) elder vs. older
Elder as a noun means someone from an earlier period, or an officer or influential leader of a tribe or community.
Elder as an adjective refers to the older of two or more specified people.
Older is an adjective that describes someone who has lived for many years.
Elder generally is used when referring to people, while older can apply to people or objects.
The elder of two sisters has an antique tea set that is older than either of them.
4) injured vs. wounded
Injured as an adjective refers to something or someone who has been wronged, harmed or impaired.
Wounded describes something or someone who has been injured by a weapon, feels emotional pain, or suffers from an action intended to be hurtful.
The verb forms — to injure or to wound — are similar.
As nouns, an injury in medical terms is a specific type of injury that breaks the skin or damages tissue. A wound typically results from harmful intent, and it usually occurs by accident or circumstance.
Nine passengers on a bus were injured in a crash after a man wielding a knife wounded the driver.
5) momento vs. memento
Momento is not a word, although it often is used instead of memento, which is a reminder of the past, a keepsake.
My mother’s attic was packed with mementos of her long life.
Tip: Think of the word memory, which starts the same as memento.
6) over vs. more than
Over implies a geographic position or crossing a barrier.
More implies an increasing number.
I saw several skiers fly over the huge jump.
More than a dozen skiers made it over the huge jump.
7) presumptive vs. presumptuous
Presumptive means based on probability or providing grounds for reasonable basis for belief or acceptance.
Presumptuous means going beyond what is proper or courteous.
Prince Charles no longer is the presumptive heir to the British throne, as Queen Elizabeth recently named her grandson Prince William for that role.
The presumptuous couple walked by the hostess and sat at a table of their choosing.
8) rein vs. reign
A rein is a leather strap used by a rider or driver to control a horse or other animal.
To reign means to rule or to possess power over someone or something.
The rider pulled hard on the reins to stop her horse.
It appears that Prince Charles will never reign as a British monarch.
9) testimony vs. testimonial
A testimony is a declaration or statement of fact, usually given under oath in court.
A testimonial is a statement certifying a person’s character, conduct or qualifications; a recommendation of a person, a product or a service.
The judge considered her testimony critical to his sentencing decision.
The reviewer’s testimonial helped the author sell truckloads of books.
10) wreck vs. wreak
Wreck means to cause the ruin of or destruction of something.
Wreak means to inflict or bring about a large amount of damage, punishment or harm, sometimes in revenge or retribution.
Every boat in the harbor was wrecked by the hurricane.
The hurricane wreaked havoc on the Florida coast, destroying everything in its path.
Or for weekly reminders, subscribe to her yearlong subscription that puts a new Word Tripper in your inbox every week and brings you bonuses throughout the year to help you boost your writing skills.
Words … we have so many to choose from. Let me know the words that trip you up.
Follow Me: LinkedIn Twitter G+
Latest posts by Kathy Watson (see all)
- Filet Or Fillet? Choose Your Word Or Cut Of Meat - April 25, 2017
- McDonald’s Is Lovin’ It, But I’m Not - April 18, 2017
- Ignore Noun/Pronoun Agreement For Gender Neutrality? Count Me Out! - April 11, 2017