Happy Wednesday! I apologize for not putting up a blog post last week, I was too busy getting Soul Rebel polished! So glad it’s done – it comes out Friday, and I hope y’all really love the book!
Ok, so today, we’re going to do Part II on mixed up words. I keep seeing them, so pick up your pencils, or your mouse to copy and paste, and commit these to memory!
These are the words:
- Wandering/wondering – I am not sure if this mix-up is a cultural thing or what, but I frequently see these two words interchanged, especially when editing documents from folks in the UK. Wandering is a verb meaning to walk or roam around, usually looking for something, or when someone is lost. Wondering is a verb meaning to internally question something. These words aren’t even close, and rarely are they interchangeable, yet one little letter seems to confuse people.
Test: He sat wandering/wondering which tie to choose with his suit.
Yep, it’s wondering, because he’s thinking/debating.
She was wondering/wandering around the forest, looking for her mate.
Definitely wandering. I suppose she could have been wondering around in the forest, but then you’d say, “She was wondering where her husband was as she wandered around the forest.”
- Sat/Set. These two get mixed up so much! I am constantly fixing this. Sat is a past tense verb meaning to be seated/take a seat. It’s an action a person does with their body. Set is also a verb, meaning to place or put something. So you don’t want to say, “She sat the baby on the chair while she used the restroom.” The baby being placed or put on the chair, he/she is not sitting on it him/herself. You would also not say, “I set on the sofa and waited for the TV program to come on.” Sure, you put yourself there, but unless you’re standing on your head or something, we’re going to assume you are sitting on your butt on the couch, therefore, you SAT on the couch, you did not set on it. Although, in parts of the South, you will hear people speak it this way. It’s wrong, but I’m not gonna correct how they speak down there because you aren’t going to change them. Plus they have guns down there. Bless their hearts.
- Lightning/Lightening. This one drives me to drink (although that doesn’t take much these days) and it’s SO COMMON. These two words aren’t close. Lightning is a two-syllable noun. It’s that scary light show that cracks across the sky (like Carrie Underwood sings) during a fierce storm. Lightening is a three-syllable verb meaning to make something lighter. “As I was lightening my hair with bleach, I looked out the window and saw lightning.” Easy, right? If you’re furiously typing out a story about a scary storm and your characters are running like crazy to escape it, and you just want to type that “e” in the middle of the word, please, for the love of all that is holy, JUST DON’T!
- Alter/Altar – also commonly mixed up. Alter is a verb meaning to adjust, change, or modify something. Altar is a noun meaning a holy place or a raised pedestal. “Father O’Malley asked me to alter the altar.” Ha! This is one of those things where you’re just going to have to commit it to memory if it doesn’t look right to you. It jumps out as wrong to me immediately, but not everyone has my talent <heh>. Jot it down and memorize it!
- Aisle/Isle. This one is also mixed up A LOT. They are not interchangeable in any way, shape, or form. Aisle is the long runway a bride usually walks down, or the side of a theatre next to the seats. Isle is a short or slang for “island.” Spell check won’t catch these, so you need to. And honestly, the word “isle” is rarely used in modern literature, especially modern fiction, so if you ever use that word, make sure you think twice as you’re typing it. ADD THE A!
- Vain/vein. I hope these two aren’t very confusing for people. Vain is an adjective meaning proud, conceited, or narcissistic. It can also mean worthless and empty. Vein is a noun for that little blue body part that runs under your skin and takes blood through your body. It can also mean a stripe, streak, or seam. It is also a noun meaning mood, or manner, and I think this is why the words get mixed up. If you’re going to say that Johnny tried in “vain” to get his girlfriend back – you need to use the A spelling since that means worthless or empty. If you’re going to use it to describe a mood, you’ll say, “His face betrayed the sad vein he felt in his heart.” – not many people use the word in this context, but I have seen it. I’d stick to this spelling for the body part. But that’s just me… no need to confuse your reader. It’s not nice!
- Eek/eke – this one is funny and simple. Eek is almost a slang to describe someone’s exclamation of being frightened or startled, and is only used in dialogue. Eke is a verb meaning to barely do something or barely get something done. And let’s be real, we’re only going to use this word when we’re saying something like, “He eked out a meager existence on the farm…” or “’I’m sorry,’” he eked out.” Keep the eek word for your horror novels, or perhaps a romance book for an exclamation after she bites her lip or bats her eyelashes and he rejects her.
- Drug/Dragged. People. These words do not mean the same thing. The past tense of drag is not drug, it is dragged. Drug is obviously a medicine or narcotic. That’s all.
- Message/massage. I don’t know how people mix up these words, but they do. I would hope you could look at the sentence and see something doesn’t look right. I don’t even think this needs explaining, but please do a search of your document and make sure you used the right word in your story!
- Taunt/Taut. This is a very, very common error I see. Taunt is a verb meaning to tease, mock, smear. Taut is an adjective meaning something is very tightly wound, extended, or stiff. Please don’t say that Jake has very taunt muscles, it will just make me laugh at the visual. Recently, I even saw someone say a guy’s muscles were “taught” – yes, it’s pronounced like “taut” but obviously not the same meaning, since taught means to instruct or teach. Proper use of each: “She taught him to taunt his fellow students because of their lack of taut muscles.” Got it, romance writers? 🙂
- Dinning/Dining. Oh, how I wish “dinning” wasn’t a real word, but sadly, it is. Because dinner is spelled with two Ns, a lot of people think that dining – meaning to eat – should be spelled that way, too. But it’s not. Dinning is a verb meaning to hammer or instill something. So, if I were you, I would just never, ever use the word dinning with two Ns and you won’t ever get confused. So… just don’t.
- Quite/Quiet. Yeah, this one happens like, everyday. They are obviously two different words and most of the time I see quiet spelled at quite. Spell check isn’t gonna fix this for you, so please do a document search and read the sentence. Look closely. They’re so similar that it’s hard to see, but it’s a very common error! I always laugh when I see, “Be quite!” I think, “be quite… what?” 🙂
Okay! I think I’ve rambled on long enough, and I was gonna try to come up with a clever little sentence combining all these words, but I need to make dinner, and trust me, I’m not me when I’m hungry, and neither is my family.
Until next time,