Think You Know All the Right Words? Test Yourself

It's easy to go through life blithely thinking your words are spot-on, especially as a writer. Then one day an error you’ve been making grabs your attention: Surprise! You’ve been using the wrong word! Maybe today will be that day. See if this test has a word surprise for you.

Choose the correct word in each sentence. 

1. Because of their continual / continuous bickering, Karin and Evan will be separated. 

2. So far, Jacob has been able to diffuse / defuse the rising tensions between labor and management. 

3. His mother's problem began with a large callus / callous on her left foot. 

4. We plan to canvas / canvass the employees for their feedback. 

5. The new designer recommends a tan palate / palette throughout the office. 

6. Regretfully / Regrettably, neither candidate has accepted our offer. 

7. The principle / principal reason for the delay is the client's request for changes. 

8. They enjoyed fawning / fauning over the distinguished poet at dinner.

9. Her communication skills complement / compliment the tech team well. 

10. The entire family emigrated / immigrated from Guatemala in 1997. 

11. Pamela seems adverse / averse to interviewing him. 

12. We could not move in for a month because the office reeked / wreaked of chemical cleaners. 

13. His enumerable / innumerable fans can be counted on to support him. 

14. He loves word puzzles–entomology / etymology is a hobby. 

15. Please be extra careful–she always pores / pours over the numbers.  

16. This situation requires the counsel of a disinterested / an uninterested individual. 

17. We tore through the school preparing for the immanent / imminent / eminent arrival of the vice president.  

18. Hallie agreed to make discrete / discreet inquiries about the size of their next contribution. 

19. After he hanged / hung the pictures, he felt that the apartment was finally a home. 

20. Jewel and Rae, we offer you our hardy / hearty congratulations! 

 

Well, are you expecting a surprise? Below are the correct answers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Because of their continual bickering, Karin and Evan will be separated. 
Continual means "ongoing"; continuous means "uninterrupted." 

2. So far, Jacob has been able to defuse the rising tensions between labor and management. 
Defuse in this sentence means "to make less tense or less hostile"; diffuse means "to spread." 

3. His mother's problem began with a large callus on her left foot.
A callus is a thickening of the skin; callous means "unfeeling" or "hard-hearted." 

4. We plan to canvass the employees for their feedback.
Canvass in this sentence means "survey"; canvas is a fabric.

5. The new designer recommends a tan palette throughout the office. 
Palette has to do with color; palate has to do with the mouth and taste. 

6. Regrettably, neither candidate has accepted our offer. 
Regrettably means "unfortunately"; regretfully means "with feelings of regret."

7. The principal reason for the delay is the client's request for changes. 
Principal means "main" in this sentence; principle means "rule." 

8. They enjoyed fawning over the distinguished poet at dinner. 
Fawning means "attempting to please"; fauning is not a word–a faun is a mythical creature.

9. Her communication skills complement the tech team well. 
Complement means "complete"; compliment means "praise." 

10. The entire family emigrated from Guatemala in 1997.
One emigrates from and immigrates to. 

11. Pamela seems averse to interviewing him. 
Averse means "disinclined" or "opposed"; adverse means "harmful" or "unfavorable." 

12. We could not move in for a month because the office reeked of chemical cleaners. 
Reek has to do with odors; wreak means "inflict" or "bring about." 

13. His innumerable fans can be counted on to support him. 
Innumerable means "too many to count"; enumerable means "countable" and "capable of being listed." 

14. He loves word puzzles–etymology is a hobby. 
Etymology is the study of word derivations; entomology is the study of insects.

15. Please be extra careful–she always pores over the numbers. 
To "pore over" is to examine something closely. To "pour over" is to release a liquid onto something. 

16. This situation requires the counsel of a disinterested individual. 
Disinterested means "impartial"; uninterested means "having a lack of interest." 

17. We tore through the school preparing for the imminent arrival of the vice president.  
Imminent in this sentence means "about to occur"; immanent means "inherent"; eminent means "distinguished." 

18. Hallie agreed to make discreet inquiries about the size of their next contribution. 
Discreet means "careful, cautious"; discrete means "separate." 

19. After he hung the pictures, he felt that the apartment was finally a home. 
Pictures are hung; people were hanged. The past tenses are different. 

20. Jewel and Rae, we offer you our hearty congratulations! 
Hearty means "warm, enthusiastic." Hardy means "vigorous, robust." 

 

Any surprises? Please let me know how you did. I look forward to your comments and questions. 

Lynn
Syntax Training

 

 

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lynn,

    I love this kind of test! I made 4 mistakes (continuous, pours, uninterested, discrete). My first language is Italian, I reckon this helped me a lot in many situations!

  2. Am I the only one who wondered, given the nature of Roman mythology, if someone could choose to use ‘fauning’ to imply something more… bacchanalian? It’s was interesting to see how many commonly misused words have opposing meanings – in English/American, context is all.

  3. The only 2 I had to guess were 17 and 18. I didn’t even realize immanent was a word! So now I have a new vocabulary word. And to remember when to use discreet vs. discrete, I’ll remember separate and discrete both end with a vowel, consonant, silent e.

  4. Good list, Lynn!
    I was uncertain on a couple of these (4 and 10). Thanks for helping us refine our vocabularies. This reminds me of when I was young and my Dad would quiz me with the Reader’s Digest “How to Enrich Your Word Power” column.
    Cheers,
    Anita

  5. Thanks, everyone, for letting me know how you did.

    Deborah, nice work! I’m glad you got so many correct but learned a thing or two.

    Walker, that hadn’t crossed my mind. Very creative!

    Tommasso, not bad at all! You can probably avoid most of the ones you got wrong, but I am glad you learned about them here.

    Shelley, I’m glad you got a couple of surprises here. “Immanent” is not a common word. To avoid confusion (from readers), I would choose “inherent,” which many people instantly recognize.

    Anita, 4 and 10 are good ones to master. Just last night I heard a TV newscaster say “emigrated to the United States.” We know better!

    Lynn

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