Combat Misuse, Mispronunciation of These Two Common Words

As a writer and self-proclaimed ruthless editor, I have my grammar antennae in constant scan mode. I’m starting to hear misuse of the word combat. It has two meanings, and its pronunciation varies, depending on what the speaker wishes to convey.

COM–bat: As a noun, it is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, and it means fighting between armed forces: Two Army divisions were heading into combat when the were attacked.

com–BAT: As a verb, it is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, and it means to take action to reduce, destroy or prevent something: The U.S. is sending medical personnel and troops to South Africa to combat the spread of ebola.

Realtor is a word that has long been subject to mispronunciation. Many folks say REAL–a–tor. The correct pronunciation is RE–al–tor. A Realtor (notice that it also should be capitalized) is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Communication research shows that others are quick to form opinions about us by the way we use language. Earn a reputation for your intelligence and competence by paying attention to the fine points of pronunciation.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)