No matter our level of education, age or status, many of us fall into a few word traps almost daily. For example, the words who and Whom are often misused. In fact, I hardly use who and whom correctly myself even when I have to spell check. So is your classmate a female gender or a female sex? Do you empathize with your friend or do you sympathize with him/her? Let’s see the correct use of these words and similar others.
Wedding Vs Marriage
Wedding and marriage are often interchangeably used. This is wrong. It is incorrect to say: Peter and Ann had their Marriage today. Or: You should enter Wedding for love.
While wedding is the ceremony or ritual officially celebrating the beginning of the living together of two people as husband and wife, marriage is the actual living together of two as husband and wife, more than the ceremony.
Antisocial Vs Asocial
This one is very common. Antisocial and asocial are interchangeably used to refer to one who is not sociable. This is wrong. An antisocial person is an antagonist, a hostile person, one who is unwilling to cooperate with and associate normally with other people. Those who are antisocial are those who often perform reckless actions against other people. The word asocial on the other hand, describes a person who is shy or often withdraws from a social situation. Thus, both words should not be used interchangeably.
Being Vs Been
The words being and been are sometimes confused. As a rule the word been is always used after ‘have’ whereas being is never used after ‘have’. It is used after ‘be’.
‘Been’ is the past participle of the verb ‘be’ and is usually used with the perfect aspect with ‘have’ in all its forms i.e. had and has.
I have been busy. NOT I have being busy.
‘Being‘ is the present participle of the verb ‘be’ and can be used with the continuous form of the verb ‘be’ is all its forms i.e. am, is, was, are and were.
When I got home yesterday, the movie 50 was being aired.
I wonder why Paul is being so playful today.
‘Been’ is the past participle of the verb ‘be’ and is usually used with the perfect aspect with ‘have’ in all its forms. i.e.: am, is, was, are, were: a) When I arrived at the scene of the accident the victim was being placed in an ambulance. B). I don’t know why Paul is being really difficult today.
Race Vs Ethnicity
These concepts are similar but not interchangeable. Race is associated with biology while ethnicity is associated with culture. Race refers to a class of people, for example African – American or Indians, defined by biological difference. Ethnicity is the term for the culture of people in a given geographical region, including their languages, heritage, religion and customs. To be a member of an ethnic group is to conform to some or all of those practices.
Guard Vs Guide
Many students make the mistake of interchanging the words guide and guard, it is erroneous. As nouns the difference between guide and guard is that a guide is someone hired to show people around a place or an institution. The person often offer information and explanation about a place while guard is a person who, or thing that, protects or watches over something.
As verbs the difference between guide and guard is that guide is to serve as a guide for someone or something; to lead or direct in a way; to conduct in a course or path while guard is to protect from danger; to secure against surprise, attack, or injury; to keep in safety; to defend.
Sex Vs Gender
Sex is used to describe a biological difference between human beings (i.e. male vs female) while gender is used to describe social differences (i.e. men vs women etc.).
Empathy Vs Sympathy
Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy, which is caring and understanding the suffering of others. Both words are often incorrectly used and often interchangeably but they differ in their meaning.
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Compliment Vs Complement
The two words are often misspelled. They sound similar but their meanings are very different.
A complement is something that gives completeness to a thing or makes it whole. An example is: Queen is a good complement to her husband. A compliment on the other hand is an expression of praise, condemnation or admiration. For example: The footballer received many compliments for scoring three goals.
Income Vs Revenue
Income refers to net profit or what remains after expenses and taxes are subtracted from revenue. Revenue is the total amount of money the business receives from its customers for its products or services. For individual, income usually refer to the total wages, salaries, tips, rents, interest or dividend received for a specific time period and this cannot be referred to as revenue.
Comprise vs. Compose
These are two of the most commonly misused words in the English language. Comprise means to include; compose means to make up.
It all comes down to parts versus the whole. When you use comprise, you put the whole first: “A soccer game comprises (includes) two halves.” When you use compose, you put the pieces first: “Fifty states compose (make up) the United States of America.”
I hope you learnt something new now. What other commonly misused words do you know of and what’s their correct usage?