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15 Commonly Confused Words Editors Want You to Know

15 Commonly Confused Words Editors Want You to Know

Editors usually have a lot of work when it comes to proofreading, because writers pay attention to the overall tone and style, and sometimes neglect the spelling and punctuation. Editors are always criticizing their writers for forgetting to put commas and for confusing homophones or words with similar meanings. Here are 15 commonly confused words that editors are tired of explaining to their writers.

1. Principle vs Principal

As they are homophones, they are easily confused and therefore very often misused. A “Principal”, generally speaking, can be defined as the most important person in some kind of organization or a group (commonly used when referring to head of a school or university). On the other hand, “principle” is a general idea, belief, doctrine or an accepted rule of action.

So if you say that you are a man or a woman of principle, it means that you have certain beliefs and you tend to stand your ground. If you use principal in this sentence (with an article of course, definite or indefinite), well, it may mean that your spouse is the head of a school.

2. Anyway vs Any Way

Should I write anyway or any way? It depends on what you want to say. The synonyms for anyway are regardless, anyhow, in any case, and it is also used as a linking word. For example: I don’t care, I will do it anyway.

If you divide this compound noun, it will have a completely different meaning. We need to help them any way we can. Any way – by any means necessary or in any manner. Anyway, I believe that this will help you in any way.

3. Serial vs cereal

Yesterday, around five o’clock, the police department arrested a man that was suspected to be a cereal killer. Wait a minute – cereal killer? Yes, there are approximately 20 billion jokes on the internet about cereal killer. You start your day with a bowl of cereal. Serial, on the other hand, is something that consist of a series.

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4. Cite vs site

Another set of homophones that can be easily misused. “Site” is a location and if you cite somebody, you are using their words or making a reference to somebody or something.

He cited Aristotle, while standing in front of a beautiful site near Parthenon.

5. Complement vs compliment

Give my compliments to the chef. I would also like to say that this wine you suggested is a real complement to this delicious food.

A compliment is way of expressing admiration or praise, whereas a complement is a noun derived from the verb complete.

Man: You complete me.
Woman: So I am a complement to you? Is that even a compliment?

6. Beside vs besides

This is probably one of the trickiest pairs – an editor’s nightmare. But, let’s get it clear once and for all. Beside is a preposition, while besides can be used both as a preposition and as an adverb. The meaning of beside is next to, or close to: Put that pen beside the notebook; You can sit beside me. In both of these sentences you can use next to instead of beside.

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Besides as a preposition means apart fromBesides me, did you tell that to anyone else? As an adverb, it means moreover, furthermore, also… Besides, it is also good for your health.

7. All together vs altogether

Altogether, I think we should definitely go there. And, we should go there all together. In order to make it perfectly clear, let’s rephrase this sentence.
All in all, I think we should definitely go there. And everyone should go there.

Altogether is an adverb and it means all in all, everything included or everything considered, completely or wholly. If you want to say everyone or all of us, the phrase you are looking for is all together.

8. Allusion vs illusion

This is proof that just one letter makes a big difference. If you make an allusion, you are indirectly referring to something or someone. Example: The first sentence in his new book is actually an allusion to his previous book.

If you, on the other hand, make illusions, I envy you (I’ve always wanted to become an illusionist). Example: His newest illusion is somehow an allusion to the famous David Copperfield.

9. Elicit vs illicit

In order not to confuse these two words, you should try to remember that elicit is a verb, whereas illicit is an adjective. The former one means to evoke or to call forth, while the latter has the meaning of illegal.

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It is a common belief that the color blue can elicit feelings of depression. Selling the alcohol to minors is illicit. Your behavior can elicit some illicit actions.

10. Affect vs effect

How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you are not sure which one of these you should use? Don’t worry, you are most certainly not the only one. Both of these words can be used as verbs as well as nouns, and maybe this is where the confusion is born. The most common way to distinguish these two is when you are using affect as a verb and effect as a noun. But, wait for it, because there is more than that.

Affect, as a verb, means to produce or to act on. For example: Bad weather affected the number of visitors on the music festival. Although it is mostly used as a verb, to have an impact on something or someone, it can also be used as a noun. In that case, affect is used to express feelings, emotions or facial expressions (usually in the terminology of psychology).

Effect, as a noun, usually represents a result as in – You can try to do it, but I am confident that it will have no effect. If used as a verb, it means to produce something as an effect. The synonyms are make something happen or bring about.

11. Advise vs advice

Unlike the previous set, these two are actually very simple to remember and to understand. Advise is a verb and it means to offer an opinion or, simply said, to give advice. Advice is a noun and it represents the offered opinion or recommendation in order to successfully conduct certain actions.

She strongly advised me not to give any advice to him.

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12. Disinterested vs uninterested

Let’s say you are a student and the exercise you are doing is adding negative prefixes. At one point, you are confused about the word interested. Is it disinterested or uninterested? Actually, if you just need to add suffixes, both are perfectly fine. However, the meaning isn’t the same.

If somebody is uninterested, he or she is bored. They have no interest whatsoever. Imagine the situation where you and your friend are strongly arguing about something. Unable to find a solution, or better yet, a compromise, you seek help from a friend of yours. If he is uninterested, you need to find another person to help or try to sort it out between yourselves. If, on the other hand, your friend is disinterested, he might help you because he is unbiased in this situation.

13. Lose vs loose

If you lose something, it means that you fail to keep it or you simply didn’t win. Lose is a verb, and it is commonly confused with loose. Loose is an adjective (but it can also be a verb) and it is used to described something that isn’t tight or isn’t bound together.

Mom where are my trousers? I have no idea, you probably lost them. Never mind I’ve found them. But they seem too loose. I think I need a belt.

14. Farther vs further

The everlasting dilemma – when to use farther and when further? Both of these are comparatives of far, but the meaning is slightly different. Farther is used to describe greater distances, a degree or a more advanced point. But so is further. So where is that difference then? Farther is used for physical distances, like farther down the road or farther to the left, whereas further is used for figurative ones.

15. Literarily vs figuratively

Completely two different words and for some strange reason, people tend to mix them up. Literarily describes the situation exactly as happened. If you want to use a metaphor, you will say figuratively.

I was literarily speechless. – You didn’t know what to say and you remain silent.
Figuratively speaking, we are in the same boat as you. – It’s just a metaphor and you aren’t really in any kind of a boat. Just a figure of speech. Therefore the expression figuratively.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

1. They Manage Their Expectations

They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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4. They’re Not Materialistic

There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

5. They Don’t Dwell

They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

6. They Care About Themselves First

They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

7. They Enjoy the Little Things

They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

8. They Can Adapt

They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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9. They Experiment

They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

10. They Take Their Time

They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

11. They Employ Different Perspectives

They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

12. They Seek to Learn

Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

13. They Always Have a Plan

They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

14. They Give Respect to Get It

They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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15. They Consider Every Opportunity

They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

16. They Always Seek to Improve

Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

18. They Live in the Moment

They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

19. They Say Yes

Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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20. They’re Self-Aware

Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

Final Thoughts

The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

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Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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