Yes, I Used To Be an English Teacher
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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Yes, I Used To Be an English Teacher

When you are editing y our manuscript, keep a sharp lookout for the following words.  They differ by only one letter but have different uses and meanings.


ADVICE is a noun similar to recommendation.
    I didn’t ask for Samantha’s advice, but she gave it to me anyway.

ADVISE is a verb similar to recommend.

     The doctor advised me to drink more water when I exercise.

ALTAR is a raised structure in a church.
     The congregation stood and faced the altar.

ALTAR means to change.
     The book is great; don't alter a word of it. (HAH!)

CAPITAL is a noun referring to a city or money, as well as an adjective that means main or precedes the word punishment

     Our capital goal is to raise the capital needed to fund the new project.

CAPITOL is a government building

     Which architectural styles were popular when this capitol was built?

CAVALRY is a horse-mounted military unit.
     During the Civil War, cavalry units still ranked as elite troops.

CALVARY is a hill mentioned in the Bible.
     The crucifixion took place at Calvary.

CITE is a verb meaning mention

     Be sure you cite at least five sources in your next research paper.

SITE is a noun referring to location (whether physical or on the Internet)

     There are mixed opinions about the best site for the new residence hall.

COMPLEMENT is a noun or verb that refers to completeness
. Note that “comple” begins both complement and complete.
     Bethany always wears a scarf to complement her outfit.

COMPLIMENT is a noun or verb similar to praise

     Although his stage persona is extroverted, Boswell gets embarrassed every time someone compliments his acting abilities.

DESERT is a noun referring to a dry place or climate and a verb meaning leave
    love water too much to live in a desert. 
Although Mary went to the party with Jon, she deserted him as soon as she found her other friends.

DESSERT  is a noun referring to a sweet food. The extra “s” in this word comes from the sweetness.

     My favorite dessert is warm chocolate cake with coconut ice cream.

FARTHER is the preferred word when describing physical distance

     If I lived farther from campus, perhaps I would get more exercise.

FURTHER generally refers to figurative distance or distance in time. 

     Housing is an important topic; let’s discuss it further tomorrow.

ITS is the possessive form of the pronoun IT.
     The cow jumped over its fence.

IT"S is a contraction of IT IS.
     it's time to build a higher fence.

PRINCIPAL is an adjective meaning main or most important and a noun identifying a sum of money or the head of a school. Remember the saying, “The principal of your school is your pal”?

     The principal reason we hired Mr. Jones as the new principal is that he is extremely creative. [And I admit that sentence is too wordy!]

PRINCIPLE is a noun similar to rule or belief.

     Maxine adhered to three basic principles when she wrote her novels: revise, revise, revise.


STATIONARY means not moving.
     Although the scenery was dull, Jules enjoyed exercising on the stationary bicycle in his basement.

STATIONERY is a noun referring to paper and other writing .  Notice the “er” in both stationery and pper.

Mikaila writes so many letters that she buys new stationery every month.