Posted by: Idioma Extra | August 19, 2010

Thursday Tidbits


Confusing Words

Which of the following is correct:

  1. He didn’t accept the free trip to Aruba.
  2. He didn’t except the free trip to Aruba.

If you chose #1, you’re right!

In English, there are a plethora of words that sound almost identical but have vastly different spellings and meanings.

Look at the following examples:

Accept vs. Except

-accept:  to agree to receive or do something (Mary accepted the invitation.)

-except:  not including or leaving out (Except for Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica has only had male presidents.)

Elicit vs. Illicit

-elicit:  to draw out a reaction, reply or answer (The teacher elicited the students’ knowledge.)

-illicit:  not allowed by law or ethics; illegal (The man was sentenced to life in prison for possessing illicit photos.)

Pole vs. Poll

-pole:  a slender, long piece of wood or metal (Firefighters slide down a pole rather than use stairs.)

-poll:  election voting (We took a poll to see how many employees wanted to work from home one day a week.)

Stationary vs. Stationery

-stationary:  still, not moving (The foundation of the house is stationary.)

-stationery:  writing materials and supplies (I bought Isabel Allende some stationery for her birthday.)

Check Yourself

See if you can fill in the blanks below with the correct word (note: you may have to change the tense of the word depending on the context of the sentence):

  1. I forgot my fishing __________ last weekend when we went to the lake.
  2. After getting married, Brooke used her __________ to write ‘thank you’ cards to her friends and family.
  3. The teacher did not __________ my excuse that my dog ate my homework.
  4. Children cannot bring _________ materials to school.
  5. Tourists throwing trash in the jungle __________ a strong response from Costa Ricans.
  6. In a 1999 __________, 75% of Americans said they were happy!
  7. __________ for the boys, everyone had to wear a traditional Guanacaste dress.
  8. Hollywood’s headquarters are _________ in California.

Answers from last week’s Check Yourself:

  1. My favorite _color/colour____ is turquoise.
  2. I saw Phantom of the Opera last night at the National __Theatre/Theater________.
  3. A _dialogue/dialog_____ is a conversation between two people.
  4. “Could you do me a quick _favor/favour_________ and meet me at the call _centre/center_________ where I work?
  5. In libraries, most card _catalogues/catalogs_________ are now electronic.
  6. I put flowers on John Lennon’s grave in order to __honor/honour______ him.
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