5 Commonly Confused Words That Make You Look Stupid

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Do you know the difference between these words?
Let's face it, now that almost everyone uses the internet for at least a portion of their daily communication, spelling counts more than ever. Whether you're looking for a job or just sending an email to your boss, a co-worker or a client, poor spelling leaves the recipient with a bad impression and can even make them question your competence.

This is why it's important to make spell-check a habit. The problem is, even the best spell-checker can't catch every mistake. For example, if you misuse a word, but spell it correctly, you're not going to be alerted to the problem.

The English language is tricky and there are so many words that sound alike but are spelled differently. These homophones can confuse even the best of us, and added to that, there are many words that look similar but have completely different meanings. Words like these wreak havoc on emails, blog posts and even cover letters and resumes.

Here are 8 commonly confused words. If you've ever mixed up one of these, don't feel too bad, it happens all the time.
  • Regimen/Regiment/Regime- According to Dictionary.com, a regiment is "a unit of ground forces, consisting of two or more battalions or battle groups, a headquarters unit, and certain supporting units." A regimen, however is a regulated course of diet, exercise or lifestyle that is designed to make someone healthier. So, a regiment may have a strict exercise regimen but you can't try to lose weight by sticking to a regiment of exercise. To make things even more confusing, there is the word "regime". Although it looks a lot regiment and regimen, it means a system of government.


  • Weary/Wary - I see this mistake frequently and it always makes me laugh a little. "Weary" means physically or mentally exhausted or being impatient and dissatisfied with something. "Wary", on the other hand, means being on guard and alert to danger. You can be weary of hearing your co-worker talk about their upcoming vacation, but if you say that you are wary of their plans, it would imply that you feel somehow threatened and are worried that their vacation may be simply an attempt to sabotage your job.


  • Epitaph/Epithet - This word mix-up is often seen in news reports. You see, a epithet is a word or phrase that has negative meaning and is generally something that you wouldn't feel comfortable repeating in polite company. For example, news reporters may say that a building was vandalized and racial epithets were spray painted on the walls. They say it that way in order to avoid having to repeat the exact slurs. An Epitaph however, is a message or quote that is written on a gravestone.


  • Per Se/Per Say - This isn't actually a case of confusing two words. While "per" and "say" are both valid words, together they don't make much sense. However, "per se" is a latin phrase that means in and of itself. For example, using the word per or say isn't wrong, per se, when used instead of "per se", it make the writer look stupid.


  • Principal/Principle - If you are talking about the head administrator of a school, the correct term is principal. Another use of the word principal is when you are talking about a sum of money. For example, when you send a little extra money to the mortgage company, you are trying to pay down the principal. A principle, however, is a rule or a guiding value. Just remember that a principal wants to be your pal.

There are many other words that are commonly confused on the internet. Sometimes they are fun to laugh at, but when you are sending professional emails and status updates, watch out for these types of mistakes.What are some other words that you have seen misused online? I would love to hear them.

By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for Administrativejobsblog and Nexxt. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.



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