Wednesday Words & Woes: “A” for Effort!

Frequent readers of my blogs know that each Tuesday I publish a “Tuesday Tricksters” list of miserable words – known as homophones (words that sound the same, or nearly so, but are spelled differently and mean something different) – because they’re so easy to misuse!

One of my readers (Asesh Datta) asked if I could just remind folks of the perils of word pairs where one of the pair starts with an “a” and the other doesn’t. If English isn’t your first language – heck, even if it is – these words can cause you to think you’re writing one when you’re writing the other.

Thanks to Asesh for the suggestion!

Some of the word pairs listed below do share a common understanding, and that makes them even more difficult. If the definitions of a few of them are too close for your liking, find a synonym and use it.

Here is a short list of some to be careful of:

Abide (v.): to put up with; tolerate (John can’t abide incompetence.); to stay with or remain (Abide with me.)
Bide (v.): to stay; continue; to dwell; reside, to wait (to bide one’s time)

Across (prep.): on, at, or from the other side of (The houses are across from each other.); (adv.) on the other side or from the other side (Jan is walking across the bridge.)
Cross (v.): to go from one side to another (I will cross the street.); to mark with an “x” (I will cross that out.); (adj.): annoyed (I was cross with her.); (n.): a crucifix

Arise (v.): to get up, as from a sitting or prone position; to awaken and get up (I will arise at dawn.); to move upward; ascend; to come into being; originate (He hoped that a new spirit of freedom was arising.); to result, issue, or proceed (Some mistakes arise from a basic misunderstanding.)
Rise (v.): to move from a lower to a higher position; ascend (Hot air rises.); to increase in size, volume, or level (The river rises every spring.); to increase in number, amount, or value (Prices are rising.); to increase in intensity, force, or speed (The wind has risen.); to increase in pitch or volume (The sound of their voices rose and fell.)

Alone (adj.): entirely separated from others (She was alone in the park.)
Lone (adj.): a singular a thing or person (a lone rider; the Lone Ranger)

Awake (adj.): not sleeping (I was awake when she called at 5 a.m.!); (v.): to rouse from slumber (I usually don’t awake at dawn.)
Wake (v.): to rise up out of slumber (I usually wake up around 7.); (n.): a preburial vigil of a corpse; the track or trail left in the water by a moving ship or boat

Aware (adj.): on one’s guard; vigilant; knowing or realizing; conscious; informed (She is always aware of her surroundings.)
Ware (n.): a good or a thing (goods or things) that can be bought or sold, or pottery made from clay; usually used in the plural form (wares)

And just to make things a little more difficult, remember that ware is a sound-alike of where and wear.

You’re welcome. 🙂