Often confused words: quiet / quite, terrific / terrible, owe / own
Many English language learners often have trouble correctly using the following pairs of words: quiet/quite, terrific/terrible, owe/own. Here is a brief explanation of each to help clarify the difference:
Quiet / quite
Quiet is the synonym of “silent,” while quite is used to mean “very,” and is a bit formal in usage. The confusion comes from the pronunciation of each word which is very similar. Quiet has two syllables (QWHY-et), while quite has just one syllable (QWHITE). Here are some examples:
I prefer to work at home because it is more quiet. (silent)
He was quite hungry after working hard all day. (very)
Terrific / terrible
The similar pronunciation and spelling of these two words also leads to confusion; however, they are quite different in meaning. Both are adjectives, but terrific is a positive word meaning “great” or “fantastic.” Terrible, on the other hand, is negative and means “bad” or “not pleasant.” Here are some examples of how they are used:
That pizza was terrific! I could have eaten the whole thing by myself. (positive)
That movie was terrible! I left the theater before it ended. (negative)
Owe / own
The same confusion with pronunciation exists here because both sound very similar and are difficult to distinguish in speech. Both have the same /oh/ sound. The only difference is the /n/ at the end. Owe is a verb that is used when someone has to repay something, with respect to money, a favor, etc., or is in debt to someone. Own can be used as either a verb or a possessive adjective. As a verb, own means to be in possession and responsible of something: the owner of something (a house, a car, land, etc.). As a possessive adjective, it is used when describing someone as the sole owner of something. Here are some examples:
I owe him a big favor after he helped me paint my house. (in debt)
She owes the bank a lot of money after taking out a loan for her car. (in debt)
I have never owned a house, but I would like to. (in possession and responsible for)
I would like to buy my own house someday when I have the money. (sole owner)
Underline the correct word to complete the sentence.
1. I prefer to live in a (quiet / quite) neighborhood.
2. I gave you $10 dollars and you returned $5 to me. You (owe / own) me $5 more.
3. This book is (terrible / terrific). It is so boring!
4. The teacher was (quiet / quite) upset with the students because of their bad behavior.
5. Manuel Antonio is (terrific / terrible)! There are so many interesting things to see!
6. I want to order my (owe / own) food because I don’t like what the other people like.
7. He is a (quite / quiet) student who doesn’t participate in class.
8. How many CD’s do you (owe / own)? I have more than 100!
9. Some people think the taste of beer is (terrific / terrible). They prefer wine.
10. I just did a big favor for you. You (owe / own) me one!
Answers to last week’s Check Yourself
1. We have 5 classes to make up because of holiday cancellations. (reconcile / recover)
2. I could tell that he was making up the story by the look on his face. (put in order / invent)
3. It’s a good idea to make up right away with a co-worker after an argument to maintain a healthy work atmosphere. (reconcile / invent)
4. My son refused to make up his room. (constitute / put in order)
5. A computer is made up of many complex circuits. (put in order / constitute)
6. We have to make up for lost time. (recover / invent)
7. He’s always making up stories that never happened to him. (put in order / invent)
8. Many types of ethnicities make up the US population. (constitute / recover)
9. Giving flowers is a good way to make up with a loved one. (reconcile / put in order)
10. I never feel like making up my bed in the morning. (put in order / recover)