Easily Mixed Up Words (3 of 4)

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Disinterested/ uninterested

A person who is uninterested would likely be bored while some who is disinterested would be impartial, unbiased, and not be impacted by the subject. For example, one might be disinterested in the sale of another’s house while remaining curious about the final price.

Dual/ duel

Dual means two as in a dual-controlled car with two brake pedals. Duel means an arranged fight or contest with agreed rules.

Ensure/ insure

These are often used interchangeably although in UK English ensure means to make sure while insure is to put financial cover in place.

Farther/ further

Use farther when referring to a measurable distance and use further when writing figuratively. For example,

The campsite was farther away than we had thought.

Upon further thought, I have decided not to continue with this.

Formally/ formerly

It’s quite easy to use the wrong one. Correct use is as follows:

I writing to formally lodge my complaint.

He was formerly known as Casius Clay.

Good/ well.

It helps to remember that good is an adjective (so it modifies a noun or pronoun – a person, place, or thing) and that well is an adverb (so it modifies a verb – an action or state).

He did good in his test.  He did well in his test.

He received a good result in his test.

There is an exception with reference to health.

He was sick for 7 days, but he is well now.

Hanged/ hung

Hanged should be used only with reference to a person. Hung should be used as the past tense of hang in all other situations. For example,

The murderer was sentenced to death and hanged.

The pictures were hung on the wall.

How much and how often

Sometimes much, which refers to quantity, is used when often, which refers to frequency, would be more appropriate. For example,

How much do you play golf?  How often do you play golf?

How much and how often do you feed your baby?

Illegible/ ineligible

Although quite distinct in meaning, their closeness in written form can result in mistakes. Ineligible means not qualified or authorised or unable to be considered for something while illegible means something that cannot be read. For example,

The boy was ineligible for the under-12 team because he was too old.

Her handwriting was illegible.

Imply/ infer

Imply means to hint at something while infer means to conclude or deduce something. For example,

What are you implying when you say that?

From what you say I can only infer that you do not like the man.

Mnemonic: You (with a -y) would imply (with a -y) something and I would infer it.

Later/ latter

It is easy to inadvertently add an extra t and change the meaning. Later refers to time while latter is the opposite of former. For example,

I will talk to you later.

When it comes to tea or coffee, my preference is the latter.

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