Tips for More Effective Technical Writing

Tip #20 Confusing Words

Word 1 Meaning   Word 2 Meaning
ability power to do something, physical or mental capacity ability to hold ,contain, or absorb
accept to agree with, to receive except not including, other than
adverse unfavorable, harmful averse strongly disliking; opposed
advice recommendations about what to do advise to recommend something
affect recommendations about what to do advise to recommend something
affect to change or make a difference, to influence effect a result; to bring about a result (to cause)
all ready prepared: all are ready already prior to some designated time; earlier, previously
all right satisfactory (colloquial: avoid using) alright altogether, already (colloquial: avoid using)
all together all in one place, all at once altogether completely; wholly
almost very nearly, all but most greatest in amount, quality, or degree
amount things of a unified mass: bulk, weight, or sums number things that can be counted in individual units
appraise to assess apprise to inform someone
apt suggest fitness or tendency liable implies exposure to something burdensome or disadvantageous
assent agreement, approval ascent the action of rising or climbing up
aural relating to the ears or hearing oral relating to the mouth; spoken
balance (avoid using to mean "remainder") remainder what is left over at the end
be going to + Verb changeable intention: weaker form will + Verb in principle, an "unchangeable2 intention; therefore, a promise; stronger form
beside next to; by the side of besides in addition to, moreover
between relationship of two items among relationships of three or more items
can ability, power (physical and mental) may permission, possibility, wish
coarse rough course a direction; a school subject; part of a meal
common belonging to many or to all mutual reciprocal
compare considers likenesses and differences contrast show differences
compare to stresses the resemblance of two things compare with stresses relative values (either alike of different)
complement to add to so as to improve; an addition that improves something compliment to praise or express approval; an admiring remark
continual something that recurs with sufficient frequency to be considered in a series; close recurrence in time continuous something that occurs without interruption
council a group of people who manage or advise counsel advice; to advise
credible believable creditable worthy of recognition
cue a signal for action; a wooden rod queue a line of people or vehicles
data are historically the proper combination data is gradually becoming more common in use
defuse to make a situation less tense diffuse to spread over a wide area
desert a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone dessert the sweet course of a meal
different from preferred style different than acceptable style
discreet careful not to attract attention discrete separate and distinct
disinterested impartial; unbiased; not influenced by personal reasons: indifferent uninterested not interested; not paying attention
draught a current of air draft a first version of a piece of writing
draw an even score at the end of a game drawer a sliding storage compartment
dual having two parts duel a fight or contest between two people
each other relationship of two items one another relationships of three or more items
elicit to draw out a reply or reaction illicit not allowed by law or rules
ensure to make certain that something will happen insure to provide compensation if a person dies or property is damaged
envelop to cover or surround envelope a paper container for a letter
farther distance further depth
fewer applies to number: use when counting individual items less usually used with non-countable or abstract concepts
flounder to move clumsily; to have difficulty doing something founder to fail
forbear to refrain forebear an ancestor
foreword an introduction to a book forward movement onwards, ahead
formally in a formal manner, precisely, ceremonially formerly in the past
former first of two units latter second of two units
free from standard use: devoid, lacking something free of colloquial use: avoid using
further greater in degree, quantity, or time; in addition to farther refers to space, measurable distance
genus class or kind genius great intellectual ability
healthy possessing health (people and animals) healthful conducive to health (places and foods) healthful climate
human (being) refers to people humane merciful, tender, considerate
if expresses conditions whether expresses doubt, and also expresses conditions stated in indirect questions
imply to suggest indirectly; not explicitly state infer to draw a conclusion from statements, circumstances, data, evidence
impractical more formal: not practical, lacking practical usefulness or wisdom unpractical less formal: not practical, lacking practical usefulness or wisdom
impractical more formal: not practical, lacking practical usefulness or wisdom impracticable not capable of being carried out, used, or managed
in regard to standard use; concerning or about is preferred in regards to colloquial use: avoid using
inferior to standard pair inferior than non-standard: avoid using
ingenious resourceful, talented, tricky ingenuous innocent, frank, naïve
irregardless non-standard English: avoid regardless standard English: in spite of everything
later refers to time latter second of two items (see former)
legible capable of being deciphered; to be read with ease readable capable of being deciphered; to be read with ease + interesting or easy to read
loose to unfasten; to set free lose to be deprived of; to be unable to find
maybe perhaps may be expresses possibility
moral good, proper morale refers to a condition, state, or attitude
persuade change someone's behavior convince change someone's way of thinking/beliefs
pour to flow or cause to flow pore a tiny opening; to study something closely
precede come before in time, , rank, of sequence proceed to go forward after an interruption; continue
principal most important; the head of a school; a sum of money; main, chief principle a governing rule or belief
prior to standard prior than non-standard, colloquial use
respectively severally, in a specified order respectfully in a respectful manner
sight the ability to see site a location
so good, but overly used as a conjunctive adverb (接続副詞) and weak form
therefore, thus, accordingly, …
preferred: stronger, more specific forms
stationary not moving; fixed position stationery paper for writing
storey a level of a building story a tale or account