Maria Murnane

A former PR executive who abandoned a successful career to pursue a more fulfilling life, Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly...

Are you mixing up these words?

Some words are hard to remember. I have to look up “supercilious” every time I come across it. Others are confusing. I still don’t get what “camp” means when used as an adjective. Others are hard to remember and confusing. For the life of me, I don’t know how to use “cheeky” correctly.

Then there are the dreaded words, or pairs of words, that are so similar it’s easy to mix them up. Here are some common ones:

Affect & Effect

For the most part “affect” is a verb, and “effect” is a noun:

  • This heat is affecting my game (correct)
  • I feel the effect of the heat (correct)

Occasionally “effect” is a verb when it means “to bring about”:

  • She wants to effect change as governor (correct)

Pique & Peak

These two are usually mixed up in the expression “piques interest”:

  • That book description piques my interest (correct)
  • He climbed to the peak of the mountain (correct)

Uncharted & Unchartered

These two are usually mixed up in the expression “uncharted territory”:

  • This is uncharted territory for us (correct)
  • That yacht is unchartered for tomorrow (correct)

Moot & Mute

These two are usually mixed up in the expression “a moot point”:

Moot means “irrelevant.”

  • The seating chart debate is a moot point because they canceled the wedding (correct)

Mute means “silent/to make silent” or “unable to speak.”

  • She is mute on the subject, preferring to let her art speak for her (correct)
  • He muted the TV so he could hear what she was saying (correct)
  • He’s been a mute since birth but can hear perfectly (correct)

Which word pairs trip you up? Please let me know in the comments so I can address them in a future post!

-Maria

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