Commonly used Confused Words in Writing

Do you use certain words interchangeably?
While writing any piece of article or a blog, you might have encountered few commonly confused words. These words appear and sound similar but have different meanings altogether.
While writing, you not only need make explicit use of the vocabulary but also understand the proper usage of commonly-used words.
Otherwise, it might confuse your reader and the result is that it might affect your documentation in terms of user experience. It may not be possible even to catch these confused words while using the spell check utility of any authoring tool.
Remember the golden rule in technical writing, “Do not be solely dependent on spell check to find out mistakes related to the choice of words”.
Let us differentiate some of the commonly used confused words in writing.
A while Vs Awhile A while, a combination of article and a noun, which means a short time or a period. It is used as a subject of a sentence usually used after ‘for’ preposition. Consider this example, “I sat for a while before continuing my journey”.

Awhile, is an adverb, which means for a short time or period, and it is used without any preceding preposition. Consider this example, “I slept awhile before the dinner”.

Affect Vs EffectAffect, is a verb, which means to have an influence or to attack or infect. Consider this example, “The weather conditions will affect the number of people”. The word “Affect” may also be used as a noun to describe a facial expression. For example, “The woman took the news of her husband’s sudden death with little affect”.

Effect, a noun, refers to something that occurs due to some action or an event. It also refers to the power to produce an outcome or achieve a result. Consider this example, “The prescribed medication had no effect on the patient’s symptoms”.

All ready Vs AlreadyAll ready, is a phrase, which refers to “completely ready” or “completely prepared”. Consider this example, “We are all ready and excited for our trip to Goa”.

Already, is an adverb, which refers to something that has happened before the present time or by this time. Consider this example, “We asked if he could accompany us to trip to Goa but he had already been there before”.

Beside Vs BesidesBeside, a preposition, which means to be at the side of or next to. Consider this example, “He was sitting besides her in the class room”.

Besides, an adverb or a proposition, which means “in addition to” or “also”. Consider this example, “Besides him, Ram and Shyam also went to watch the movie”. 

Criteria Vs Criterion Criteria is used as a plural noun, which is similar to “phenomena”. Consider this example, “Robert detailed the six basic criteria for accepting a client”.

Criterion is used as a singular noun, which is similar to “phenomenon”. Consider this example, “The only criterion used to judge a salesperson’s performance was sales”.

Comprise Vs composeComprise, a verb that refers to either “to include” or “contain”, and is used when discussing a whole that consists of parts. Consider this example, “The rock comprises of several minerals”, which also refers to “The rock ‘consists’ or ‘is made up’ of several minerals”.

Compose, a verb, which means “to make up” or “make”, and is used when discussing parts that make up the whole. Consider this example, “Many ethnic groups compose our nation”.

Callout Vs Call outCallout, a noun, which refers to an act or an instance of calling out something. It is usually used as a label in order to identify parts of an illustration. Consider this example, “You need to add callouts to this presentation to highlight few important points”.

Call out, is a phrase, which refers to speak in a loud voice or shout. Consider this example, “She called out the names of all the participants attending the music competition”.

Cite Vs Sight Vs SiteCite, a verb, refers to a short note to quote something. Consider this example, “When writing research papers, you are required to cite their source of information”.

Sight, a noun, refers to something that can be seen or to see or spot something. Consider this example, “As we grow older, our sight is affected the most”.

Site, a noun, refers to a physical location such as a house or a neighborhood. Consider this example, “Yesterday, I visited the site where our new home will be built”.

Discreet Vs DiscreteDiscreet, an adjective, refers to being careful or cautious or not to cause an embarrassment. Consider this example, “You need to be discreet before proceeding with this venture”.

Discrete, an adjective, refers to being distinct or detached from others or to be separate. Consider this example, “He divided the team into two discrete groups, performers and non-performers”.

Disc Vs DiskDisc, a noun, refers to a compact disc or a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM. Consider this example, “You need to use Windows 2000 Professional Compact Disc in order to install Win2k operating system”.

Disk, a noun, refers to a flat circular plate. Consider this example, “The hard disk consists of some important information”.

Especially Vs SpeciallyEspecially, an uncommon adjective, refers to something that is exceptional or in a noteworthy manner. Consider this example, “My mother knitted a pullover especially for me”.

Specially, a common adjective, refers to something that is used for a particular purpose or that is distinct. Consider this example, “This session has been specially conducted for the experienced IT professionals”.

Few Vs LessFew, an adjective, relate to number and refers to the things that can be counted. Consider this example, “There were fewer apples in the super market today”.

Less, an adjective, related to the amount and refers to the things that can be measured. Consider this example, “He has less than five minutes to board the plane to go to the United States of America”.

So, do you want to add any other confused word to the above list? Do comment on this blog.
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