Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2nd 5 of Top 10 Commonly Confused Words

#6: It's/Its


The car won't start because its battery, or it's battery, is dead?

Answer: its

How to Remember It:

The word it's means "it is" or "it has," while its means "belonging to it."

In the sentence above, "it is battery" or "it has battery" doesn't work – so the correct version has to be its.

Similarly, in the sign shown here, "it is/has accessories" and "it is/has enclosure" don't make sense, so it's wasn't the right choice.

#7: Pore/Pour


When you're attentively studying, are you poring over or pouring over the materials?

Answer: poring

How to Remember It:

One reason this word trips us up is that both pour and pore are often followed by over.

But in this case it probably helps to think literally. When we're intently studying something, nothing is actually pouring (i.e. flowing, leaking) onto the object of study; in fact, if something did pour onto what you're poring over, your task would be far more difficult. The less familiar verb pore is correct.

(Pore actually has the same root as pour, but of course that only adds to the confusion.)

#8: Fewer/Less


Does the average American family have less than two kids or fewer than two kids?

Answer: fewer

How to Remember It:

Fewer refers to things that can be counted (fewer kids, fewer chairs). Lessusually refers to quantities of things that can't be counted (less coffee, lessagitation).

However, under certain circumstances less, not fewer, is more commonly used with countable things. For example: Less than twenty miles, less than five dollars, and 1500 words or less, are considered standard.

As for the express lane at the supermarket, "ten items or fewer" follows the general rule, but "ten items or less" is also widely accepted and more often used.

#9: Flounder/Founder


If your ship fills with water and sinks, does it flounder or founder?

Answer: founder

How to remember it:

When something founders, it loses its foundation. (Founder and foundationhave the same root.)

To founder is to collapse, sink, or fail.

One source of confusion here is that the meaning of the verb flounder is similar: to flounder is to struggle to move or get one's footing, or to proceed or act clumsily or ineffectually. People can flounder, but ships founder.

#10: Principal/Principle


Is the person in charge of a school the principal or the principle?

Answer: principal

How to remember it:

A couple of mnemonics based on letters are useful here: the principal is your pal. Principle, like rule, ends in "l-e."

source : www.merriam-webster.com

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