Avoiding Common Errors With Some Definitions
13 minutes • 2594 words
Patriarchal, patrilineal, patrimony, patrilateral, patricidal:
Patriarchal: Where the social order is handed down from father to son, as in patriarchal order of society.
Patrilineal: Where the lineage is handed down from father to son; for example, where Amit Bose’s son is Ajit Bose, Ajit’s son is Anil Bose, and so on.
Patrimony: “Father’s property”. But “mother’s property” is not matrimony. Matrimony means “marriage” (e.g., matrimonial relations).
Patrilateral: It means “related to father’s side”.
Patricidal: The old Latin verb cide means “to kill”. Thus:
patricide killing one’s own father matricide killing one’s own mother fratricide killing one’s own brother infanticide killing children homicide killing persons suicide killing oneself (suis means “I am”) pesticide a substance to kill pests insecticide a substance to kill insects Special and especial: Special means “extra”. Especial means “particular”; especially means “particularly”.
Today a special train will run from Calcutta to Puri due to the Chariot Festival (Rathayatra) being held in the city. That person who came from Italia, especially, is a good painter.
Far, farther, further: Far means “distant”. Farther means “more distant”, it is the comparative degree of far. Further means “more afront” [“more ahead”].
Purulia is far from Anandanagar. Asansol is farther [than Purulia] from Anandanagar. He went one step further.
Spirituality and spiritualism: Spirituality means “pertaining to spiritual matters” or “concerning the Cognitive Principle”. Spiritualism means “the cult of spirits, ghosts, etc.”
Veracity and voracity: Veracity means “truthfulness” or “concerning truthfulness”. Voracity means “overeating”, “gluttony”.
Observation and observance: Observation is a noun form of the verb to observe, meaning “to watch” or “to scrutinize”. Observance means “ceremony”.
He was kept under strict observation. He did not take part in the social observance.
School: It means “to remould”. It comes from the French word école.
Duty: Duty means “that which should be done”. [In traditional English] in this sense, the word is always singular.
Duty also means “tax”. In this sense it is used in the plural number also.
In modern English, duty in the sense of “what should be done” may also be used in the plural form.
Mercenary and missionary:
Mercenary: In old Latin, mercene meant “cash money”, so mercenary means “one who works for money or for any other reward”. Mercenary soldiers means “paid soldiers, hired soldiers”.
Missionary: Missionary means a “person who works for a noble cause”. The word missionary is derived from the root verb mit. Mit means “to do something worthwhile, something noble”.
Note: As per the rule, if the suffix -ion is added to a verb ending in a consonant other than -t, the noun-form ends in -sion; for example, provide → provision, collide → collision. When the root verb ends in -t, the noun form is -tion. The only exception is mit: the noun form will not be mition, it will be mission.
opt option quest question omit ommission commit commission permit permission submit submission Vernacular and colloquial: Vernacular means “the undeveloped language of local uncultured people or backward people”. So it is a somewhat derogatory word.
Colloquial means “spoken”. Colloquial language means “spoken language”. Those whose natural tongue or “kitchen language” is not English, do not usually learn colloquial English, which does not come within the framework of written English. For example, we write will not, but in colloquial English we say won’t. Again, in written English we write do not, but in colloquial English, we say don’t.
Doldrums and pell-mell: Doldrums means a “state where not a single object is functioning properly”. Suppose three persons are producing music to different tunes simultaneously. That is the state of the doldrums. Pell-mell means “a state where things are not in proper order”.
While inspecting the office, I found the records and registers in pell-mell order.
Old, antique, ancient: Old means “time-honoured”. Antique means “time-honoured, but not desirable”. Its noun form is antiquity. Ancient means “time-honoured, and also desirable and respectable”.
Old man, old system, old English. Antique habits. Sanskrit is an ancient language.
Little progress, a little progress, the little progress: Little progress means “no progress”, for example, “The patient has made little progress,” meaning “the patient has made no progress.” A little progress means “some progress”. The little progress means “the progress” particularized, but negative.1
Many and many a: Many means (1) “more than two”, (2) “not easy to count” (just like the word score, which has two meanings: “twenty” and “many”). Many a is plural in use, but the [associated] verb is used in the singular.
Many boys are going to school.
There’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.
Many a youth and many a maid, Dancing ’neath the greenwood shade.
Corporal and corporeal: Corporal is the Latin adjective for “body”. In English the adjective is “bodily.” Corporeal is also an adjective for “body”, but it denotes something not within physical inference.
The difficulty is one of corporal nature. The cuckoo is not a corporeal bird, it is a heavenly entity.2
Aquatic and aqueous: Aquatic is a Latin adjective for aqua (“water”). Aqueous is also a Latin adjective for aqua (“water”), used in the sense of “having the characteristics of aqua”.
A fish is an aquatic animal. A thorough laboratory test should be done through aqueous experiment.
Marine and maritime: Marine is a Latin adjective for “sea”. Maritime is also a Latin adjective for “sea”, but it is used when the sea does not come within the scope of inference.
He is a student of the Marine Engineering College. South Bengal has a maritime climate.
Financial, economic, pecuniary, fiscal, monetary, exchequer: Financial: “concerning money matters”. Economic: “concerning money matters so far as receipt and expenditure are concerned”. Pecuniary: “concerning money matters so far as the capacity to spend is concerned”. Fiscal: “concerning money matters so far as the financial matters of government are concerned”. Monetary: “concerning money matters” (t́ákápaysá, টাকাপয়সা3). Exchequer: “concerning the government treasury”.
Native: Its etymological meaning is “indigenous”. But the British colonizers disdainfully called the local Indians and Africans “natives”, and thus it acquired a derogatory meaning.
Use and usage: Use means “utilization in vogue”. Usage: When a system is followed for a long period, it is called usage.
The chewing of betel is not in use in Iran now.
The usage of applying vermilion dates from the Austric period.
One another and each other: When something regarding more than two parties is concerned, we are to use one another.When the same concerns two parties, we are to use each other.
Ram, Shyam and Jadu are fighting with one another. Ram and Shyam are feeding each other.
Punishment, atonement and disciplinary action: Punishment: When someone does something wrong or commits a crime, he or she gets punishment from the court of law. Atonement: When someone does something wrong from a moral or ethical viewpoint, he or she receives self-punishment. One word for “self-punishment”, of Latin derivation, is atonement. Disciplinary action: When someone gets punishment for unsatisfactory organizational outturn, it is called disciplinary action.
Childish and childlike: Childish means “like a child” in a derogatory (negative) sense, for example, childish behaviour. Childlike means “like a child” in the positive sense, for example, childlike simplicity.
Rural and rustic: Rural means “pertaining to the countryside or village”. It is used in a positive sense. Rustic is used in a negative sense. For instance, we say rural banks, but rustic persons. The Bengali term for rural is grámya (গ্রাম্য), and for rustic, geṋyo (গেঁয়ো).
Appreciation and depreciation: Appreciation [taking the word in its original sense] means “giving recognition or the proper price or the announced price”. [It came to mean “an increase in price” as well.] Depreciation: When a negative [movement in ] price is announced, it is depreciation. Depreciation is the opposite of appreciation.
Irregular account/balance and inefficient account/balance: Irregular account/balance: When an amount is spent in an irregular way and recorded on an irregular form, it is called an irregular account. Suppose Rs. 100 is to be spent, but the amount spent is Rs. 120. Then the amount of Rs. 20 is an irregular balance. This expenditure should not have been made, since one had no authority to do so.
Expenditure which should not have taken place is called irregular expenditure.
Inefficient account/balance: A balance in the account which cannot be closed in a recognized way with the sanction of competent authorities is called an inefficient account/balance. For a proper closure of such a balance an order for write-off is to be obtained from the higher authorities.
Abound with and abound in: Regarding a container, abound in and abound with may both be used; whereas regarding the contained, only abound in may be used.
Snakes abound in Thailand. Thailand abounds in / abounds with snakes.
Historical truth and universal truth: Historical truth means a fact recorded in history, either in black and white or as a part of common people’s parley, for example, " Bengal is famous for mulberry silk." This fact is recorded in history, but in future Bengal may or may not remain famous for mulberry silk. Universal truth means a truth that remains unassailed by historical changes, for example, “Honesty is the best policy.”
Bring and fetch: There is a basic difference in use between bring and fetch. Suppose someone is standing at a distance. If one asks that person to bring water, the verb bring should be used. But when someone is standing nearby and one asks that person to go and bring water, then the verb fetch should be used. As such, the verb fetch means to “go and bring”. In India, in many cases, there is confusion between bring and fetch. Students hardly learn the correct use of fetch. Teachers should pay a little more attention to the proper use of fetch.
Compare with and compare to: When the comparison shows similarity amongst different objects, the preposition with is used after compare. When dissimilarity is shown amongst different entities, that is, when contrast is shown, the preposition to is used after compare.
A human may be compared with a tailless ape. The Vindhya Mountains cannot be compared to Lake Sharashanka.
Here the Vindhya Mountains have been contrasted with Lake Sharashanka.
Tumbler and glass: Is it correct to say, “Bring me a glass of water”? The answer is no: tumbler is the proper word for a “glass”. When a tumbler is made of glass, it is called a glass tumbler. Thus when we say, “Bring me a glass of water,” it is wrong. We should say, “Bring me a tumbler of water.” In old English, tumbler was always used in this sense, but in modern English, glass is fast replacing the word tumbler.
You and thou: About six hundred years ago the word thou was used in place of you (singular) in English. But it is no longer used. Now the word you (coming from the French word vous) is used in place of thou (coming from the French word tu). As in French tu is fast being replaced by vous, in modern English, thou has become almost obsolete, and now it is restricted to addressing God only.
The second-person singular verbal form (thou hast) was made by adding one -t after the verb concerned[, in old English]. The -th added after the verb [to form the third-person singular] was [also] the usage of old English: for example, seeth, goeth.
Quarter and quarters: Quarter means one-fourth. Quarters means a specified locality. Nowadays the word quarter is also used to denote a specified abode in a singular sense. It is used in the sense of “residential quarters”.
Author and writer: Author means “one who writes books”. We should not use the word writer in the sense of “author”. Writer means “clerk”. Writers’ Building4 means “a building of clerks”.
Marketing and shopping: When someone goes to a market for the purpose of selling, he or she goes for marketing. When someone goes to place for the purpose of purchasing, he or she goes for shopping.
Taught and touched: In old English, there were two verbs: touch and toutch. Touch was used where tactuality was involved, and toutch was used in the sense of imparting knowledge (its past-tense form was toutched). As the words were very similar in pronunciation, and there was a great possibility of confusion [between] their present-tense forms [on the one hand, and their past-tense forms on the other], the verb toutch was changed into teach in the present, and taught in the past.
No other alternative: correct or incorrect? “There is no other alternative”: This is grammatically incorrect, as alternative means “other way”; so other alternative means “other other way”, which suffers from the defect of duality. The correct sentence should be, “There is no alternative” or “There is no other way.”
Put on and put off: To put on means “to start the work”. To put off means to “end the work” or “to extinguish”.
Put on your shoes. Put off your shirt. Put off the light.
Spare and spareable: Spare means “extra, additional”. Some people wrongly use the word spareable for spare. Spare is both an adjective and a verb. One should say “a spare pencil” and not “a spareable pencil”.
Similar and identical: Similar means “almost the same”, whereas identical means “exactly the same”.
Trinity and trio: Trio means “a collection of three different entities or objects” whereas trinity means “one entity expressed in three forms”.
Popular and populous: Popular means “liked very much by people”. Populous means “thickly peopled”, that is, “inhabited by a large number of people”.
C.R. Das was a popular leader. Tokyo is a populous city. (It means Tokyo is a thickly-peopled city – here peopled is a rare verbal use of the word “people”.)
Industrious and industrial: Industrious means “hard-working”. Industrial means “of or belonging to industry”.
Tom is a very industrious student. The country’s industrial production increased by 18% this year.
Farm and firm: Farm is a place of agricultural activity, whereas firm is a place of industrial or commercial activity.
Cannibal and carnivorous: Cannibal means a “human eating a human’s flesh”; carnivorous means “any living being living on flesh or meat”.
Wood and woods: Wood means “any firewood”. Woods means “forest”.
Effect and effects: Effect means “result”. Effects means “personal bag and baggage”.
Enquire and inquire: Both have the same meaning, but inquire was formerly used more than enquire; the latter has acquired greater popularity in recent times.
Unsatisfactory and dissatisfactory: Unsatisfactory means “not satisfactory”; dissatisfactory means “that which was satisfactory but is now removed from the sphere of satisfaction”.5
Contiguity and continuity: Both words mean “extension”. Contiguity is used in the case of land and continuity is used in the case of ideas.
Calcutta is in territorial contiguity with Diamond Harbour. While concluding his speech on microvitum, he added a few sentiences in continuity to his original speech.
Rudimental and fundamental: Rudimental is the adjective form of root, and fundamental is the adjective form of fundament and of fundamentum. Fundament means “base”; fundamental means “basic”.
There is a fundamental difference between Prout and Marxism. He has no rudimental knowledge of spirituality.
The three R’s: Q. What is the meaning of the three R’s? A. Reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.
(1) For example, “The little progress you have made is of no practical value.” Here progress refers to particular achievements, but in a derogatory way. –Eds.
(2) An allusion to a Wordsworth poem. –Eds.
(3)) Meaning currency notes and coins. –Eds.
(4)An important state-government building in Calcutta. –Eds.
(5) This meaning stems from the nature of the prefix dis-. (Just as disconnect implies that previously something was connected.) –Eds.