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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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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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