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Ten Confusing Words That Make Smart People Seem Dumb

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No one wants to be identified as less than smart. We want to be identified as the wiz in the bunch, and the genius in the crowd. The truth is, most people could get confused by some words that do the job of making you seem dumb. Luckily, you’re not alone in the misuse of some words. While we endeavour to be less than perfect, we are cautious about our use of unfamiliar words. That’s alright because it’s those words we check to be certain we’ve got them right.


The problem is we tend to feel so sure about the other ‘not so serious’ terms. These are the terms that you use boldly when writing or giving a speech. Sure, you do a good job (in your head), but the listeners or readers want to cringe. Remember writing an essay in school and wondering if it’s ‘his’ or ‘is’? That kind of mistake is what’s prevalent in our every day communicative life. Even smart people are not an exemption.


Here are ten words that make smart people seem dumb…too.


Ten words that make smart people seem dumb



Lie vs. Lay

Sure, we know that lie means something that’s ‘untrue’. However, don’t give yourself a pat on the back yet because that’s not all. It’s the other meaning that throws us off. It also means to ‘recline’. When you need to rest on a bed, you can say, ‘I want to lie down and rest’. Meanwhile, lay requires an object, ‘Lay the book on the table’. The past tense of ‘lie’ is ‘lay’, while the past tense of ‘lay’ is ‘laid’. We know it can be confusing, but now you understand (right?).


Imply vs. Infer

To imply means to ‘suggest something without saying it outright’, and this is done by speakers and writers. Whereas, by inferring, you are ‘drawing a conclusion from what someone else implies’. Inferring is done by listeners and readers. What have you inferred from this explanation?


Nauseous vs. Nauseated

This term has become so wrongly used that the wrong use is often accepted. Meanwhile, nauseous really means ‘causing nausea’. For instance, “You make me feel nauseous”. While nauseated means ‘experiencing nausea’. For instance, “I am nauseated”.


Comprise vs. Compose

These words seem easy to remember, but they are two of the most misused words. Comprise means ‘to include’. In using this word, you put the whole before the item. For instance, “The team comprises (includes) boys and girls.” On the other hand, compose means ‘to make up’. In using this word, you put the item before the whole, “Both boys and girls compose (make up) the team.”


Farther vs. Further

Going further, we’ll make this easier. You can substitute the word Further with ‘more’ or ‘additional’. Here’s why: Further refers to ‘the degree or extent of an action or situation’, while Farther refers to ‘physical distance’. “I can’t run any farther,” but “I have nothing further to say.”

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