Easily Mixed Up Words (2 of 4)

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Board/ bored

Using board when meaning bored is a common mistake. Correct usage is as follows:

She was not enjoying the movie. She was bored.

They used a board as a temporary measure to cover the broken window.

Buy/ by

Carelessness can lead to the use of wrong one. Correct usage is as follows:

He passed by the house on his way to buy a car.

Complement/ compliment

Do not confuse complement (that which completes or goes well) with compliment (which is praise). For example,

The injured player returned to the field and the team was back to its full complement.

That tie certainly complements your shirt.


He said I looked handsome. I’ll take that as a compliment.

Cite / site

Cite is a verb meaning to quote or refer to or bring forward as proof. For example,

Her teacher often cited Shakespeare’s work during lessons.

Site is either a noun meaning a place or location, or a verb meaning to position or locate something. For example,

We lived near the site of a famous battle.

The planning department determined that the building was sited too close to the hospital.

Could of, would of, might of, must of

This mistaken usage is likely caused by incorrectly transcribing the have sound. For example,

I could of been a contender. I must of heard your voice.

Should be:

I could have been a contender. I must have heard your voice.

Decent/ descent

Decent means fair or reasonable while descent means the act of coming down. Correct usage is as follows:

He was a decent man.

The flight began its descent 50 miles away from the airport.

Discreet/ discrete

Discreet means keeping secrets and avoiding embarrassment. Discrete means separate and individually distinct. Correct usage is as follows:

Even though she knew about the meeting, she was discreet enough to ensure no one else found out about it.

The self-improvement programme included 7 discrete steps.

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