Part 2 of 3—Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

This blog is the second in a three-part series that focuses on reviewing certain words which sound and look similar. You also can review the initial list presented on November 7, 2011. As business writers, one goal should be to develop the ability to use words correctly. Using words wisely and correctly is certainly the mark of a talented and skilled writer!

Word Meaning Example
Bare Means “to reveal or expose,” “scant,” “to face up to something” She will bare her deepest fears to the group.
Bear Aside from the fact this word is used to refer to a specific animal, this word can also be used to mean “to carry something heavy.” This word is typically used to describe something burdensome or long suffering. Michael brought the full weight of his office to bear on this matter.Writing this report will be a “bear” of a job!
Between Refers to two people or two things This discussion is between Jack and me.(Caution: don’t use the pronoun “I” here). Reason: The word “between” is a preposition, and any pronouns used with prepositions must be in the objective case—me, us, her, him, you, them, or it.
Capital When used as an adjective, this word means “chief” or “of foremost importance.”An uppercase letter.When used as a noun, this word should be used to mean (1) “the city the serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government, (2) a large or “principal sum of money,” or (3) a crime “punishable by death.” The church is developing a capital campaign to celebrate its anniversary.The first letter in a sentence should always begin with a capital letter.Austin is the capital of Texas.
Capitol/capitol This word refers to the building in which a state legislative body meets.When the word is capitalized—Capitol—it refers to the building where the U.S. Congress meets. The Alabama state legislators will meet at the state capitol to vote on next year’s funding.The United States Senate agreed to meet at the Capitol this evening to discuss this matter in detail.
Cease Means “to stop” The group received a “cease and desist” order from city hall.
Seize Means “to take by force” or “to grasp” The federal marshal and his deputies seized the illegal shipment immediately.
Complement Means “to complete something” or “to mutually supply what the other part lacks” Dexter feels his writing skills will complement Mary’s research skills.
Compliment Means “to flatter” or “to give free” may offer complimentary movie passes with the purchase of the Kindle Fire tablet.
Assure Means “to give someone confidence” Mr. Smith, I can assure you [give confidence] that the project will be completed on time.
Ensure Means “to make certain” I want to ensure [make certain] that nothing goes wrong at the dinner.
Insure Means “to protect against loss” Mary will need to insure [protect against loss] her diamond ring for $100,000.
Farther Refers to “actual distance” The drive from Chicago to Dallas was farther [in actual distance] than Joe expected.
Further Refers to “a greater degree” or “greater extent,” “additionally” Let’s meet tomorrow and discuss the proposed budget cuts further [to a greater extent].
Hear To be perceived by the ear I can hear the couple arguing right now.
Here Means “in this place” We plan to meet here next Monday.
Home Means “to target” something Elliot will home in on [target] the excessive expenditures.
Hone Means “to sharpen” All business students need to hone [sharpen] their spreadsheet skills by taking an Excel class.
In Refers to a position within The letter is in the file.
Into Refers or implies entry Mark walked into the meeting 30 minutes late
In to Refers the word “in” acting as part of a verb phrase or adverb and the word “to” acting as part of the prepositional phrase or infinitive phrase. All sales reports are to be sent in to the sales manager. (In is an adverb in the verb phrase are to be sent in; “to” is a simple preposition for the prepositional phrase to the sales manager.)Mr. Davis came in to see me. (In is part of the verb phrase came in; “to” is part of the infinitive phrase to see.)

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.