Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

27 June, 2021

Some words in English look similar but they have different meanings. Here is a selection of such words.
Converse / inverse
The converse of a fact, word or statement is the opposite of it.
Some teachers welcomed the change, but for the majority of them, the converse was true.
Inverse is the complete opposite of something.
In mathematics ‘inverse’ and ‘obverse’ are used to refer to the faces of a coin or medal.
Convict / impeach
To convict is to find a person guilty of an offence against the law.
A woman was convicted of shoplifting.
To impeach is to bring a charge or accusation against someone.
The governor was impeached for using state funds improperly.
Convince / persuade / induce
To convince is to make someone feel certain that something is true.
The lawyer’s arguments did not convince the judge and he found the accused guilty of robbery. To persuade is to urge, encourage or influence someone to accept a point of view or course of action.
After a series of tense discussions the parents persuaded their daughter to stay in the hostel.
To induce is to persuade someone to do something, especially something that does not seem wise.
Nothing would induce me to vote for him again.
Corporal / corporeal
‘Corporal’ means ‘relating to the body.’
Corporal punishment was abolished in Britain in 1986.
‘Corporeal’ means ‘relating to the body, rather than to the mind, feelings or spirit.’
Most people try to satisfy their corporeal desires.
Corps / corpse / copse
A ‘corps’ consists of two or more army divisions. A ‘corpse’ is a dead body. A ‘copse’ is a thicket of trees or bushes.
Correspond to / correspond with
If you correspond with someone, you exchange letters with them.
‘Correspond to’ means ‘to be in harmony with.’
If two things correspond, the information in one relates to the information in the other.
The numbers correspond to the points on the map.
Correspondent / co-respondent
A ‘correspondent’ writes or exchanges letters with another. A ‘co-respondent’ is the ‘other party’ in divorce proceedings.
Council / counsel / councillor / counsellor
A ‘council’ is a body of people, usually elected for the purpose of advising or administering the affairs in a city or country. A ‘councillor’ is a member of such a council. A ‘counsel’ is someone qualified to give advice, especially in legal matters. A ‘counsellor’ is the same as counsel but the term is widely applied to anyone giving advice on some aspects of personal problems.
Couple / pair
A ‘couple’ refers to two things or people.
The married couple was given a warm welcome.
The word ‘pair’ refers to two things that are mutually dependent.
Give me a pair of scissors.
Covert / overt
‘Covert’ means ‘concealed, secret or disguised.’ ‘Overt’ means ‘open to view.’
There was a covert deal between the two organizations.
There was an overt attempt to silence their political opponents.
Credible / creditable / credulous
‘Credible’ means ‘believable.’ ‘Creditable’ means ‘deserving credit or praise.’ ‘Credulous’ means ‘having the naïve willingness to believe something.’
John was unable to give a credible explanation for his behaviour at the party.
Janet did a creditable job of impersonating Celine Deon.
Some finance companies thrive on credulous investors.
Criterion / criteria
‘Criterion’ is a standard that you use to judge something.’ ‘Criteria’ is the plural form of ‘criterion.’ Academic ability is not the sole criterion for admission to certain colleges.
To qualify for a scholarship, students must satisfy certain criteria.
Crucial / cardinal
Something that is crucial is extremely important, because everything else depends on it.
Foreign aid is crucial to the government’s economic policies.
‘Cardinal’ means ‘very important or basic.’
Vaccination against Covid 19 virus is an issue of cardinal importance.