Spelling counts: make sure you use these words correctly

Spelling counts: make sure you use these words correctly
Updated on 3 March 2015

Do you know the answer? Read on to find out which one is correct!

There are many (perhaps countless) homophones in the English language. These are words and phrases that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are three commonly confused homophones worth knowing:

1. A while vs. awhile A while refers to a period of time. In this construction, ‘while’ acts as a noun. “I haven’t read any good books in a while.”

Awhile is an adverb and means for a period of time. “I’m going to think about this awhile.”

In many cases, you can replace ‘awhile’ with the prepositional phrase ‘for a while.’ If you have a hard time remembering the difference between the two, you might want to adopt the prepositional phrase strategy.

2. Stationary vs. stationery Stationary means not moving. “Today I’ll ride the stationary bike in my living room instead of going for a ride outside.”

Stationery is writing materials, envelopes, office materials. “I bought some nice stationery to use for thank you notes.”

Discreet vs. discrete Discreet means respectful of privacy or secrecy; quiet; diplomatic; inconspicuous. “I don’t want anyone to know about my secret, so please be discreet.” “The cabin was nestled in a discreet corner of the forest.”

Discrete means individually separate and distinct and is often use in mathematical contexts. “The syllabus was broken down into three discrete sections.”

The correct answer is discreet. Did you answer correctly? What other words do you hate to see confused?

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