Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

20 March, 2022

Some English words appear to be similar, but they have different meanings.

Here are some of them:

Worthwhile / worth

If something is worthwhile, it is important or useful or you gain something from it.

Tom wanted to do a worthwhile job.

As an adjective, ‘worth’ means ‘to have a value in money.’

Your house must be worth a lot of money now.

Wrack / rack

‘Wrack’ is another spelling of ‘rack.’ It means ‘to make someone suffer great mental or physical pain.’

Grace’s face was racked with pain. As a noun, a ‘rack’ means ‘a frame or shelf that has bars or hooks on which you can put things, as in a magazine rack.’

Wreath / wraith

A wreath is a circular band of flowers offered as a memorial at funerals. A wraith is a ghost or apparition.

Yoke / yolk

A yoke is a wooden bar used for keeping two animals together, especially cattle, when they are pulling heavy loads.

Yolk is the yellow part in the centre of an egg.

You / one

If you wish to address the reader, use ‘you’ instead of the pronoun ‘one.’ The word ‘you’ has the additional advantage of informally but directly addressing the reader.

Your / yours

The word ‘your’ means ‘belonging to you or belonging to an unspecified person’ Is that your opinion?

‘Yours’ identifies a particular entity belonging to you.

Is this yours?

Yours faithfully / yours sincerely

This is the traditional formal closing at the end of business communications or letters to strangers. The word ‘yours’ does not have an apostrophe.

‘Yours sincerely’ is preferred when the writer is addressing a named or known person. If you want to indicate a degree of friendliness or closeness, use ‘sincerely,’ ‘truly’ or some other variation.


Abbreviations and acronyms

An abbreviation is a short form of a word or expression. An acronym is a word made up from the first letters of the name of something such as an organisation.

AA: Alcoholics Anonymous or Automobile Association

ABBA: (acronym) Swedish pop group (Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, Annifrid)

A-bomb: Atomic bomb

ACCA: Associate of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants

AD: anno domini (Latin) in the year of our Lord

Adv: adverb

Advt: advertisement

AEROFLOT: (acronym) Soviet Airlines

AFP: Agence France Presse

AGM: Annual General Meeting

AI: artificial intelligence

AIDS: acquired immune deficiency syndrome

aka: also known as

am: ante meridiem (Latin) before noon

anon: anonymous (usually refers to an author unknown)

AP: Associated Press

ASEAN: (acronym) Association of South-East Asian Nations (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines)

ATM: automatic teller machine

AV: audio-visual

Ave: avenue

BA: Bachelor of Arts

BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation

BBQ: barbecue

BC: Before Christ

BCom: Bachelor of Commerce

BDS: Bachelor of Dental Surgery

BEd: Bachelor of Education

BEng: Bachelor of Engineering

b / f: brought forward

bn: billion

br: branch

Bro: brother

BSc: Bachelor of Science

b / w: black and white

CB: Central Bank

CCTV: closed circuit television

CD: Compact Disk

CEB: Ceylon Electricity Board

cf: confer (compare)

CIA: Central Intelligence Agency (United States)

CID: Criminal Investigation Department

COD: Cash / Collect on Delivery

co-ed: Co-educational

Col: Colonel

cont: Continued

Corp: Corporation

CP: Communist Party

CPU: Central processing unit

CTO: Central Telegraph Office

CV: Curriculum Vitae (a summary of a person’s career and attainments)

Dept: department

DG: Director-General

Dip: diploma

Div: division

DIY: do it yourself

DJ: Disc Jockey

Dr: Doctor

DVD: Digital Video Disc

EC: European Community

Ed: Editor

ELT: English Language Testing

Email: electronic mail

ENT: ear, nose and throat

ESP: Extra-Sensory Perception

esp: especially

et al: et alii (and others)

ex: former

FAX: facsimile transmission

fd: forward

Feb: February

Fest: festival

fem: female