Thursday, June 19, 2014

Easy to Confuse

Wow, I haven’t done an easily confused words post all year! I can’t believe I’ve been slacking. Forgive me, Grammar Police Chief Melissa.

Anyway! What do we have this time?

These are words I mix up without even thinking about it. I mean due, and I stick do in there instead. It doesn’t help that do is such a versatile word. Besides being one of the most basic verbs in all of English, it’s part of a lot of idioms, like a “to do” (a party) or “do in” a murder. Due often has to do with something that should happen at a particular time, like the rent is due at the first of the month. There are a few other ways to use it, like a due course, where it means direct, and because of (I’m late due to the molasses spill in Boston). You might just need to check every use of do/due in your MS to make sure it’s right…

Yeah, I didn’t know nob was a word either, but there it is. No red squiggly line or anything. It has a few different meanings, including slang for a head and a person of high society. It’s not used much anymore, so unless you’re talking about hobnobbing, you should stick a K in front of there.

Funny how much difference one little W can make—you certainly can’t rest if you’re wresting! Ha! Well, I thought it was funny. But it should make it easy to tell them apart. Wrest is something that requires action. Rest is the exact opposite. Oh, but wrest can also mean a small key for tuning a stringed instrument. But you probably won’t need that information (just in case, though).

This one always confuses me, because arch and arc seem so similar. An arc is part of the curve of a circle (or the light between two electrodes). An arch is a curved piece of architecture—or anything curved really, like the arch of your foot. Plus, it can also mean the highest level of something (an archangel or an arch-villain). I just remind myself that unless it has to do with electricity or part of a circle, use arch.

Luckily these aren’t too difficult to discern since they’re always used as seperate parts of speech, a verb and a noun. An altar is a raised platform used in religious ceremony, so as long as you remember the noun is the one with the a, you should be all set.

Okay, that’s it for this rendition of Easily Confused Words. Do you have any words that you can’t help but mess up?


  1. Laying something on the alter has a totally different meaning.
    And now I have the Police stuck in my head - De Do Do Do...

  2. And yet, I have read books where they've confused alter with altar. Of course, these were free books that had other, more pressing issues. And I'm sure they don't read your blog. (Must stop reading the awful free books. But I do occasionally find a gem in and amongst the awful.)

  3. I don't have a problem with it, but I notice a lot of people online tend to mix up the use of reign and rein.

  4. I see the due/do one all the time. It annoys me.

  5. Ugh, arch and arc confuse me all the time!! Your explanation is definitely helpful. But what about when something else is making a curve or part of a circle? Like, she arched her back - or she arced her back? The bird flew in a long, wide arc, or the bird flew in a long, wide arch? See what I mean?

  6. LOL

    I haven't done a GPM post in so long, people probably think the Grammar Police Chief has retired. :P

  7. I have been confused by the arch/arc before. If it weren't for autocorrect on MS Word, I think I would be doomed LOL

  8. Hi Jeanne .. I have to say I haven't spotted those - or they haven't been obviously errors occurring all the time ..

    wring and ring ..
    their and there - all the time
    your and you're - all the time

    and there's another I get muddled with and usually have to have a quick peak to see which way I should go!

    But autocorrect does us no favours most of the time ..

    Cheers Hilary

  9. The one that bugs me the most is cord and chord. When something strikes a chord, I shouldn't be thinking of rope....


Please validate me.