Learn more about using words in the proper sense

English can be a difficult language to master. Words can be spelt the same way but used to represent completely different objects and actions. Novice learners complain about simple differences that can confuse them beyond measure. How many times do you notice someone misspelling ‘week’ as ‘weak’? It’s a common mistake which even learned and native English speakers make. Some people miss the difference completely and don’t really understand what can happen. But it’s extremely necessary to use the word in the proper sense that they are intended to convey the right meaning. The problem of using these similar sounding words has been compounded by the internet and SMS messages where short forms are the norm. But it’s an easily rectified mistake and here are a few common words that have to be understood in the proper context before they are used:

Affect – The main meaning of this word is “to influence or change” but in the field of medical terminology, psychiatrists use the word to indicate “a person’s feeling and emotions that are displayed on the face.” This mistake is not very common as the affect and effect mistake that is done by several users. Effect is used to signify “result or consequences” while affect has a completely different meaning. It’s a very common mistake but a little practice can make this problem right. Try this simple test and find out how well you’ve understood the difference-

The first blank will use the word “affect” while the next one will use the “effect” word-Do you feel that these situations will AFFECT you? What do you feel will be the EFFECT of this change?

Another common example is BASE and BASS which are pronounced the same but mean completely different things. Base refers to the “stand or pedestal” while Bass can refer to a common fish or a low note in music. This particular example is further confused by both BASE and BASS having multiple individual meanings. For example:

Do you know how to play this BASS note?
This BASS Fish you caught is really big, isn’t it?
Check the BASE of that stand please; it looks really shaky!

Does this really make much of a difference?

Yes, it does. Words and their arrangements in conversational English are really important if you want to make a good impression. But users can and do get confused with similar sounding and spelled words that cause a lot of confusions. These similar sounding words are called as Malapropism. Most Malapropism mistakes are funny and are very common. And the problem is compounded with similar sounding and spelled words that are similar in every sense except meaning!

For example – Please welcome to my humble commode!

The right word would have been “abode.” Malapropisms have also crept in over the years due to the inclusion of offshore English language words in to the day to day speech of most people. The process of learning the differences in the sense of English words can take some time. But practice does make perfect.