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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: PAIRS OF WORDS

There are many pairs of words that closely resemble each other in spelling or pronunciation, but differ in meaning. In the following pairs of words, the meanings of each part of the pair is given:

farther, further farther is the comparative degree of the adverb far; it should be used to indicate distance.
further contains the idea 'to a greater extent' or 'additional'.
fewer, less fewer indicates number and should be used only with a plural noun.
less indicates quantity and should be used only with a singualr noun.
centre, middle centre is always apoint: the centre of a circle is the point equidistant from all the points on the circumference.
middle is a less exact word and refers to an area or a place roughly midway between the extremities.
discovery, invention discovery is the finding or revealing of something that is already in existence.
invention is the making or creation of something new ( a machine, an instrument).
council, counsel a council is an advisory, legislative or administrative assembly of men.
counsel is advice; it is also a legal term for the legal advisors in a law-case.
stationary, stationery stationary is an adjective meaning 'not moving' or 'motionless'.
stationery is a noun and is a general name for writing-materials.
human, humane human is an adjective referring to 'man'. it should not be used as a plural noun instead of 'human beings'.
humane means 'kind' or 'compassionate'.
emigrant, immigrant emigrant is a person who leaves his own country for the purpose of settling in another country.
An immigrant is a person who comes into a foreign country for the purpose of settling there.
practice, practise practice is a noun.
practise is a verb.
Other pairs of words in which c indicates the noun and s the verb are: device, devise; advice, advise; prophecy, prophesy.
weather, whether weather is a noun.
whether is a conjunction (similar to 'if').
begin, commence, start start is used when there is an idea of putting in motion or of physical action.
commence is a rather formal word; it is best reserved for official language.
begin is used in all other senses.
continual, continuous continual means 'going on all the time, but with beaks or pauses'(e.g. continual dripping of a tap)
continuous means 'unbroken' (e.g. a continuous line)
credible, credulous, creditable credible (=able to be believed) means 'believable'
credulous indicates too great a dreadiness to believe
creditable means 'praiseworthy'
eligible, illegible eligible means 'able to be chosen', and so 'suitable'
illegible means 'unable to be read'
eminent, imminent eminent means 'distinguished' or 'outstanding'
imminent means 'threatening', 'about to happen'
ingenious, ingenuous ingenious means 'very skillful' or 'clever'
ingenuous means 'innocent' or 'frank'
affect, effect affect is a verb meaning 'to pretend, to assume, to produce an effect on'
effect as a noun means 'a result', an 'impression', or, in the plural 'property'. As a verb, to effect means 'to bring about or 'to accomplish'.
between, among between is most often used when the object represents two persons or things
among is used when the object represents more than two persons or things.
elder, older elder as an adjective is restricted in use to show greater age in family relationships.
older is the normal comparative adjective to indicate greater age.
possible, feasible possible means 'able to be', 'able to be done', 'able to happen' (dt. eventuell)etc.
feasible means 'practicable', and is much more restricted in its use than 'possible'.
surgeon, physician, general practioner (GP) surgeon is a medical practioner who specialises in performing operations.
physician is a medical practioner who is qualified in all aspects of medical practce but who does no operations.
general practioner (GP) (dt. Hausarzt)
intolerable, intolerant intolerable means 'unable to be tolerated or endured'.
intolerant means 'not tolerant', refusing to recognise others' opinions or beliefs, having no patience with others' shortcomings.
popular, populous popular refers to the people (so the poular choice is the choice of the people). By extension 'popular' means 'liked by the people'.
populous means 'densely populated'
annoy, aggravate annoy means 'to irritate, to upset'
aggravate means 'to make worse something that is already bad. A person can be annoyed, but not aggravated.
lend, loan, borrow lend is a verb and cannot be used as a noun (dt. ausleihen, verleihen)
loan should be used only as a noun.
borrow dt. sich leihen, borgen


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