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Write the Right Word: Spelling Can Affect Words’ Meanings

Just a few letters can make a big difference in the meaning of a word. Here are four examples:

  • Accept/except

“Accept” means to receive. For example: “I accept your offer to give me a ride.”

“Except” means to exclude. For instance: “I will take all of the books except the dictionary because it is too heavy to carry.”

  • Adverse/averse

“Adverse” means unfavorable. “I hope we don’t have adverse weather the day of the groundbreaking.”

“Averse” means reluctant or opposed to something. “She is averse to change.”

  • Allusion/illusion

An “allusion” is an indirect reference to something or someone. “He alluded to an earlier argument.”

An “illusion” is an unreal or false impression. “The painter created the illusion of motion in his masterpiece.”

  • Principal/principle

A “principal” is someone or something first in rank, authority or importance. “He is the principal at the new high school.” Principal also is the amount of money borrowed in a loan.

A “principle” is a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force. “All internal combustion engines work on the same principles.”

Ellen Crawford, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

Filed under: Written Communication
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