Words Written Wrong, or “To Air Is Human”

Something is wrong with that quote, “To air is Human”. Caught it? Of course! It is a mix up of the word “air,” meaning “the gaseous mixture that makes up the atmosphere,” with “err” a mistake. I have started to compile some words that make me stumble, some are just spelling errors that I have to correct, but others are mixing up the meaning of the words, and that is not a good thing for a writer.

word image

  1. Peek/peak/ pique:

Peek is a verb meaning to look from a place where one is concealed. (Think of the double ‘e’ as eyes – thus, peek).

Peak can be either a verb – to reach capacity or maximum value: or a noun such as a projecting part of something or the top of a mountain or something similar to that.

Pique can be a verb meaning to arouse interest, anger, or resentment: or a noun meaning a feeling of resentment or anger. (For some reason – I assume since they all sound the same I want to put in a ‘c’ in front of the ‘q’).

  1. Its/It’s:

‘Its’ is the possessive form of ‘it’, i.e., belonging to ‘it.’

While It’s is the contracted form of ‘it has’ or ‘it is.’ (I find this is often just a spelling mistake, but occasionally I do forget that I want the possessive form of ‘it’ rather than ‘It is’ or ‘it has’).

  1. Loose / Lose:

Loose can function as a verb meaning “to free” or “to release,” but its most common use is as an adjective to mean, “not tight.” (The double ‘o’ indicates a ‘free’ use of ‘o’)!

Lose is a verb that has various connotations of loss. For example, a person may lose his way in the woods. The past tense of lose is lost. Example: to lose a sister or one’s life.

  1. Lightening/lightning:

Lightening comes from the verb to lighten, “to make lighter.”

Lightning is “the visible discharge of electricity between one group of clouds and another, or between the clouds and the ground.” (Until recently I have been spelling the electrical charge all wrong! I can’t believe I haven’t paid attention to how it is spelled but just relied on spell check. Who knows how many times I have gotten these two words confused)!

  1. Lay / Lie:

Lay – to put or to place – lay always has an object.  Example: Lay down your homework here. (Homework is the object).

Lie – to recline – Lie has no object. Example: Tell your dog to lie down. 

  1. Envelop / Envelope:

Envelop is a verb meaning “to surround.”  Example: “Come, let me envelop you in my arms.” Envelop is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable.                    Envelope is a noun meaning a “container for a letter.”  Example: “She placed the letter in the envelope and sealed it with a kiss.” For envelope, the stress in pronunciation falls on the first syllable.

  1. Forward / Foreword:

The adjective forward describes something that is in front of or ahead of something else. The noun foreword is a preface, a brief introductory statement that stands at the front of a book. (An easy way to keep them straight is to pay attention to the word in foreword. A foreword is made up of words).

So here is my list of words I confuse more than I should. Do you have words that trip you up? I’d love to hear from you. Just leave your comment below.

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