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Write the Right Word: More Sound-alikes

Whether to use “capital” and “capitol” can be confusing. They sound alike but aren’t interchangeable.

A capital is where a seat of government is located. For instance, Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota.

Capital also refers to money, and sometimes includes equipment or property belonging to a person or business. For example: “The producer had enough capital to buy more land.”

A capitol is the building that houses the U.S. or a state government. For example: “The North Dakota Capitol is 21 stories tall.”

Two other words that be confusing are canvas and canvass.

A canvas is a strong, heavy cloth used for items such as sails and tents, or as a covering. It’s also a surface on which artists paint. For instance: “He covered the pile of wood with a canvas tarp.”

A canvass is a survey or review. For example: “Election officials will meet Thursday to canvass the votes from Tuesday’s election.”

Canvass also can mean to solicit something. For instance: “Joe Smith will canvass his neighbors to see how they feel about the proposed street lighting project.”

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