Let’s talk about monster words. Can you think of some monstrously long words?
Apart from the name of ‘that Welsh town that’s almost impossible to pronounce’ (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch), which has 58 letters, you’ll probably think of antidisestablishmentarianism (28 letters).
Rain, reign or rein? People often make mistakes when choosing between homophones (words that sound the same but have different spelling and different meanings). I see errors in the use of ‘reign’, ‘rein’ (and, occasionally, ‘rain’) almost every week.
‘Thus’ or ‘therefore’? There is endless confusion about these two words. But be warned: the confusion is made even worse by faulty (read, ‘plain wrong’) advice offered on several so-called ‘language learning’ sites.
The difference between the two words is quite straightforward.
‘Appraise’ or ‘apprise’? Are you confident about which you should use?
As an editor, I frequently correct errors in the use of these similar sounding words. Sometimes, predictive text is to blame; the tools don’t always know the difference and often seem to prefer ‘appraise’…
If you were to ask one hundred people for the definition of ‘trite’, I predict a large percentage would say it means ‘silly’, ‘superficial’, ‘inconsequential’, ‘trivial’ or something similar. That’s not what it means, though.
We can use one or more of those words to describe something which also happens to be trite, but the words aren’t directly related. None of the words is a synonym of ‘trite’.
When it comes to absolute adjectives, either it is or it isn’t.
You’ve probably heard statements like ‘That’s a fairly unique design’ or ‘He has a very unique style’. The problem is that ‘unique’ is what we call an absolute adjective. Something is either unique (the only one of its kind) or it isn’t; there are no degrees of uniqueness.