Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Versus: Some Commonly Confused Words

Some common word confusions require too brief an explanation to stand alone as a blog topic. Rather than think up outrageous examples and filler to make up a
longer post, I’ll address a few of them at a time here.

Continuous Versus Continual

Something continuous happens or exists without a break. Continual occurrences, however, happen repeatedly at intervals and usually refer to time rather than an object. You can therefore have continuous fences along a busy block and continual interruptions from unrestrained pets when you are painting them.

Desert Versus Dessert

Remember, the after-meal treat earns an extra “s” because it’s sweet. (I warned you that these were short.)

Flaunt Versus Flout

Flaunting your assets makes you a show-off or a braggart. Flouting the rules makes you a scofflaw or a brat. You cannot flaunt the rules, unless you’ve a written copy of which you are, for some reason, exceedingly proud.

Stationary Versus Stationery

While stationery must be stationary, unless someone moves it, the opposite makes no sense. An object may be stationary in that it is not moving. An object may be stationery only if you use it to write. Thus your paper and envelopes are termed stationery, whether you have them in your bag or your desk.

Let me know if there are other terms with which you struggle in your writing.




Your title reminded me of a common mistake I see - "verses" versus "versus."



Ha, I never even thought of that one. I'll have to add it to my list. Thanks, both of you!