GrammarPhile Blog

Clash of Words

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 20, 2013 5:30:00 AM

p versus qHere are some interesting word choices people too often fumble. Make sure you don't!

  • pendant, n.; pendent, adj. A pendant is an item of dangling jewelry, especially one worn around the neck. What is pendent is hanging or suspended.
  • pleaded; pled. The first is the standard past-tense and past-participial form {he pleaded guilty} {they have pleaded with their families}. Better writers avoid pled.
  • practicable; possible; practical. These terms differ in shading. What is practicable is capable of being done; it's feasible. What is possible might be capable of happening or being done, but there is some doubt. What is practical is fit for actual use.
  • protuberance. So spelled. Perhaps because protrude means "to stick out," writers want to spell protuberance (something that bulges out) with an extra r (after the t). But the words are from different roots.
  • predominant; predominate. Like dominant, predominant is an adjective {a predominant point of view}. Like dominate, predominate is a verb {a point of view that predominates throughout the state}. Using predominate as an adjective is common but loose usage.
  • purposely; purposefully. What is done purposely is done intentionally, or "on purpose." What is done purposefully is done with a certain goal in mind. An action may be done purposely without any particular interest in a specific result--that is, not purposefully.
  • proved; proven. Proved is the preferred past-participial form of prove {it was proved to be true}. Use proven as an adjective {a proven success}.
  • people; persons. The traditional view is that persons is used for smaller numbers {three persons}, and people with larger ones {millions of people}. But today most people use people even for small groups {three people were there}.

Source: Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.



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Topics: word choices, which word is correct

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