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Monday, October 12, 2009

CHAPTER 89:COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS

ACCEPT/EXCEPT

Accept means take something that’s offered: I proudly accept your nomination.

The noun-the act of accepting-is acceptance: I wrote my acceptance speech in three minutes.

Except, as a verb, means exclude; as a preposition, it means excluding:

I except my husband when I say, “All men are pigs.”

Nobody knows anything about good English, except George Orwell.

The noun exception can mean the act of excepting or strong objection:

I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.

I take exception to being called “a chuckle-head”.

ADVERSE/AVERSE

Adverse is related to the word adversary (opponent), and can mean contrary, unpleasant, or disapproving:

I had an adverse reaction to the medicine.

He suffered many adverse circumstances.

I was adverse to his suggestions.

Averse is related to avert (to move away from), and it means likely to avoid. It almost always requires a preposition, usually to.

She’s averse to talking about her marriage.

ADVICE/ADVISE

Advice is the noun; advise is the verb.

I advised him to move to New York, and he took my advice.

ADVISE/INFORM

To advise is to give advice; to inform is to give information.

I advised him to convert to Islam.

He informed me that he was a Buddhist.

AFFECT/EFFECT

Affect has two meanings: To assume a mood or style in a contrived manner, or to have an effect (not an affect!) on something.

He affected indifference.

His constant drinking affected his performance at work.

Effect is a verb meaning to cause, and a noun meaning result. To have an effect on means to cause a change in.

Her innovations effected a dramatic rise in sales.

The effect of his scolding was to make us all work harder.

Her attitude had a positive effect on all of us.

AGGRAVATE/ANNOY

Aggravate means make something worse.

I aggravated my sprained ankle by running a marathon.

Annoy means make angry or uncomfortable.

That deodorant commercial really annoys me.

ALLUDE/ELUDE/ALLUSION/ILLUSION

To allude to something means to refer to it indirectly. Such an indirect reference is an allusion.

She was alluding to my wife when she said, “I hope nobody’s coming with you.”

To elude someone is to slip away from him.

My boss was going to ask me for that report, but I eluded her all day.

An illusion is something that appears real, but is not, or is much less impressive than it appears to be.

China’s military strength was an illusion.

A magician’s tricks are illusions.

AMORAL/IMMORAL

Amoral can mean not related to morality or without morals.

The question of what’s good music and what isn’t is an amoral issue.

An amoral person has absolutely no sense of right and wrong.

Immoral means morally wrong.

An immoral person knows right from wrong, but misbehaves anyway.

ANXIOUS/EAGER

Anxious implies worry or fear; eager implies desire.

I’m anxious about this exam.

I’m eager to get it over with.

ANYMORE/ANY MORE

In modern American English, anymore means nowadays.

I don’t get around much anymore.

Any more means any additional.

Is there any more beer?

AS/LIKE

Although like is commonly used as a conjunction in everyday speech (like it ought to be used, like some people might say), as is more appropriate for formal speech and writing (as it’s being used in this sentence, as your boss would probably prefer).

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