Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

26 September, 2021

Some words in English appear to be similar but they have different meanings. Here are some of them.
Genial / congenial
To be genial is to be friendly, pleasant and good-tempered. To be congenial is to relate to and to share your friendliness with others of similar disposition.
Kathy always had a genial smile on her face.
Frank is a very congenial colleague.
Genteel / gentle
‘Genteel’ means polite, gentle or graceful.
Myla broke into a genteel run.
‘Gentle’ means kind and careful in the way you behave.
Swapna’s father was a very gentle, caring person.
Geriatric / elderly
‘Geriatric’ means relating to the medical care and treatment of old people.
Dr Donald is a specialist in geriatric medicine.
‘Elderly’ is a polite way of saying that someone is old or becoming old.
A well-dressed elderly woman joined the queue to get the vaccine.
Get / secure
‘Get’ means to receive something that someone gives you or sends you.
We get loads of presents during Christmas.
‘Secure’ means to get or achieve something that will be permanent, especially after a lot of effort.
The construction company secured a Rs 200 million contract to put up a multi-storey building.
Gourmand / glutton
A gourmand is someone who likes to eat and drink a lot.
A glutton is someone who eats too much.
Gradation / graduation
‘Gradation’ means a small change or difference between points on a scale.
There are many gradations of colour between light and dark blue.
‘Graduation’ means the time when you complete a university degree.
On graduation Celine became an art teacher.
Graduate / postgraduate
When you complete your first degree you become a graduate. A postgraduate student studies for more advanced qualifications.
Grammar / syntax
‘Grammar’ means the rules by which words change their forms and are combined into sentences.
The teacher asked me to check my spelling and grammar.
‘Syntax’ means the way words are arranged to form sentences or phrases.
Gratuitous / gratuity
‘Gratuitous’ means said or done without a good reason, in a way that offends someone.
Some children’s books include gratuitous violence.
‘Gratuity’ means a small gift of money given to someone for a service they provided.
Gregarious / egregious
‘Gregarious’ means enjoying the company of others and tending to flock together.
‘Egregious’ means blatantly, deliberately bad, or bald-faced.
Harry is an egregious liar.
Grisly / grizzly
‘Grisly’ means extremely unpleasant and involving people being killed or injured.
There was a series of grisly murders in recent times.
‘Grizzly’ when applied to hair and bears means grey or streaked with grey.
Guarantee / warranty
A guarantee is a formal written promise to repair or replace a product if it breaks within a specified period of time.
The company offers a ten-year guarantee on all their refrigerators.
A warranty is a written agreement in which a company selling something promises to repair it if it breaks within a particular period of time.
My car is still under warranty.
Guess / suppose
‘Guess’ means to answer a question or form an opinion when you are not sure whether you are correct.
You can guess what happened next.
‘Suppose’ means to say you think something is true although you are uncertain about it.
I suppose you’re right.
Gynaecologist / obstetrician
A gynaecologist specialises in diseases of the urinary and genital organs of women. An obstetrician deals with all aspects of childbirth.
Hale / hail
‘Hale’ means robust and healthy. ‘Hail’ means to attract attention.
At 89 Ethel is still hale and hearty.
After coming out of the theatre, we hailed taxi.