A writer wants, no needs, no Must, get the right word for the right meaning. And many words can easily finds their way into a sentence where they do not belong. Loath, for instance, means unwilling or reluctant, as in “I am loath to go to Seattle Seahawk game and watch them self destruct once again in the fourth quarter.” Loathe, on the other hand means to dislike greatly or abhor, as in, “I loathe to go to a Seattle Seahawk game and watch them self destruct once again in the fourth quarter.”
As you can see, sometimes different words can have the same meaning at times. I can loath and loathe at the same time for the same reason.
But there are more problem words. Let’s try again. Illegible and unreadable are not the same thing. Illegible means the document can not be read because the handwriting is so poor it is undecipherable. Unreadable can’t be read because what was written is not interesting, or incomprehensible, that it makes no sense, even though you can read the words.
The other day I was bugged with the ‘which word is it’ problem when I wanted to write the word that means the origin of words. But I typed ‘entomology’ and that is the study of insects. It drove me buggy because I could not think of the correct word-it is etymology. You can see how easy it is to confuse those two words. Those words are troublesome, but not as bad as capitol or capital.
But words do not have to sound similar, as illegible and unreadable indicate. If you think humorous and comical mean the same, sorry, they have different meanings. I will let you research those words and I will quiz you later.
I bring all this up as another example of proofreading problems. It is more than spelling, more than grammar, more than punctuation. It is also, and arguably more important, to get the right word with the right meaning in the right sentence. You might be legible in your writing, but if you confuse the reader too much you become unreadable. I hope this blog is not confusing you.
I will leave with the problem of ‘is and are.’ Is means singular as in he is, she is, or it is. Are is plural as in ‘we are’. However, when the subject is elusive, it is the authors discretion to use either word. In other words, two times three IS six and two times three ARE six are both correct.
I don’t know how I can learn a foreign language when I am still trying to figure out English.
My legible website
My hopefully readable e-books at Amazon