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08/02/13 Troublesome words | Grammar Newsletter - English Grammar Newsletter

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Past vs. Passed
This pair is among the most notorious of homonyms and are regularlyand incorrectly
swapped. To make the confusion worse, not only do the two words sound similar, they
are often used in similar situations. Past is a noun, adjective, and adverb, and passed
is generally used as a verb or adjective. To determine the use and meaning, examine
the rest of the sentence: read it in context.
Noun: In the past, television had much fewer commercials.
08/02/13 Troublesome words | Grammar Newsletter - English Grammar Newsletter
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Gerund: hints and
tips [infographic]
10 Musical Idioms Seven tricky pairs
of confusing words
Adjective: Over the past week, Bob has really helped out.
Verb: The red car passed the blue car, or Because he studied homonyms all night,
Fred passed his English test.
The time for action is in the past.
The time for action has passed.
Lie vs Lay
When used as verbs, these words are frequently confused and are among the most
difficult to keep straight. A way to remember: lie is doing and lay is putting.
The verb forms of lie: lie (present,) lay (past), and lain (past participle).
The verb forms of lay: lay (present), laid (past), and laid (past participle). Layed is not a
word and is incorrect.
After lunch, you should lie down.
The lions lie in the tall grass, watching the zebras.
The bed was messy, as if someone had lain in it.
Lay the hammer on the table.
Phyllis laid her pencil down and turned her test in.
The electricians had worked all week and had laid a thousand feet of wiring.
Rise vs Raise
Similar to lie and lay, rise is an action that is performed, and raise is an action that is
performed on an object.
When I rise in the morning, I like to read the paper.
The motto for the Portland Trailblazers is Rise With Us.
Frankie rose late for work today and had to rush.
The Sun Also Risesa novel by Ernest Hemingway
Families prefer to raise their children in a quiet neighborhood.
Raise your glasses in a toast to hipposwhere would we be without them?
I raised my pillow to hit the alarm clock.
You can tell a birds about to fly away when it raises its wings.
Proceed vs Precede
Proceed means to advance or carry on, especially after an interruption.
After lunch, we shall proceed with the tour.
The chicken proceeded to lay half a dozen eggs.
Hopefully the party proceeds as planned, despite the rain.
Precede refers to something that comes before.
Dark skies and winds precede a storm.
The Stone Age preceded the Bronze Age.
Breakfast precedes lunch.
There are lists of homonyms on the web, as English is riddled with words that sound
similar yet have different meanings and/or spellings; some of them are very common and
are used in everyday conversation and writing. There are no quick rules on them, and
most are just a matter of memorization and reading the words in context. Can you think
of any others that still confuse you?
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