Pairs/Groups Of Words Often Confused – Part 5 of 6

Words, Mistakes

Pairs/Groups Of Words Often Confused – Part 5 of 6

by: Laraine Anne Barker

PASSED, PAST

Passed is the past tense of pass. Past means a time that has gone.

“Time passed and we all forgot the incident.”

“In times past it was the custom for women to wear hats in church.”
PEACE, PIECE

Peace means the absence of war (or even noise); piece is a portion of something.
PEAK, PEEK, PIQUE

Pique means to excite or irritate; peek means to peep or snoop; peak as a noun means the summit or tip, and as a verb means to climax. So, you pique someone’s curiosity; you don’t peek or peak it. If someone annoys you, you become piqued rather than peeked or peaked.
PLAIN, PLANE

Plain means obvious, also unadorned or lacking in good looks; plane is a carpenter’s tool or an abbreviation of aeroplane.
PATIENCE, PATIENTS

Patience means forbearance; patients are people under medical care.
POUR, PORE

You pour sauces, gravies, etc, over your dinner, while pore means to study something–so, “pore over the book”, not “pour over the book”, which reads as though you might be damaging the book with an unnamed liquid substance!
PRESENCE, PRESENTS

Presence means being near at hand; presents are gifts.
PRINCIPAL, PRINCIPLE

Principal means chief or main, also the amount borrowed in a loan; principle means regulations or ideals.

“The principal reason for the company’s failure was lack of money.” (or)

“The new principal is making a real difference to our school.”

“We are paying both principal and interest each month on our mortgage.”

“She is completely without principles and would steal from her own mother.”

“The principle of a clause like this in your employment contract is to protect you against unfair dismissal.”
QUIET, QUITE

Quiet means without noise; quite when used in fiction usually means moderately, but can also mean totally or entirely. Use of the wrong word here could, of course, simply be a typing error that went unnoticed in the proof-reading stages!
RAIN, REIGN, REIN

Rain is the water that comes down from clouds; reign means to rule; rein is a strap, usually leather, for controlling an animal, especially a horse.
RAISE, RAZE

These two are exact opposites. Raise means to lift or build up and raze means to pull down:

“We will raise the reputation of our village to new heights.”

“He instructed his army to raze the village to the ground.”
REALITY, REALTY

Reality is real life; realty is real estate.
REFERENCE, REVERENCE

I don’t know if this confusion is common. I didn’t even realise the words COULD be confused until I saw one wrongly used in something written by … a writer! Maybe it was just a typing error. Reference is something referred to, reverence means respect.
RESIDENCE, RESIDENTS

Residence is a house; residents are the people who live there.
RESPECTFULLY, RESPECTIVELY

Respectfully means politely; respectively means in the order stated.

“The containers stood in a row and were numbered 1, 3, 2, 5 and 4 respectively” means they were standing in this order rather than numerical order.
RIGHT, RITE, WRITE

Right means correct; rite is a ceremony, usually religious; write means to make words.
ROAD, RODE

Road is a long surface for cars and other vehicles; rode is the past tense of ride.

About The Author

Laraine Anne Barker writes fantasy for young people. Visit her web site at http://lbarker.orcon.net.nz. Fantasy for Children & Young Adults</a> for FREE stories and novel excerpts. Sign up for the NOVELLA OF THE MONTH CLUB, absolutely FREE!

This article was posted on February 4, 2002