Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: Born and Borne

The distinction between these two words is quite tricky as born and borne are both forms of the verb to bear, but born relates to birth or origin and borne relates to being carried, transported, supported or transmitted. Born is used to describe the result of birth and by extension to describe a natural ability to do a particular job. It is also used in connection with the beginning or origin of something: He was born and brought up in Leeds. She is a born violinist. He is a Russian-born scientist living… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: ambiguous and ambivalent by Angela Caldin

Ambiguous is an adjective meaning unclear, vague, confusing or capable of being understood in more than one way: The wording of the section of the law under discussion was ambiguous and therefore hard to interpret decisively. The ending of the film was ambiguous so that many who saw it were puzzled about what the director had intended.   Ambivalent is an adjective which means being uncertain about how you feel or having two opposing feelings at the same time:     He wanted to tell the truth but at the same time… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: Tortuous and Torturous

One letter makes all the difference: The adjective tortuous means winding, crooked, marked by repeated twists and turns. In an abstract sense, it can also mean complex, devious, complicated, tricky to handle: They had to take a tortuous route over the mountains to escape. The path to peace in the Middle East is still as tortuous as it has ever been. The plots of soap operas become increasingly tortuous as they compete to attract viewers. The adjective torturous means painful in a cruel way, causing torture, or extremely slow and difficult: Training for a marathon can… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: Rein and Reign by Angela Caldin

You often see mistakes with these two and that one letter ‘g’ makes a big difference. Reins are long, thin straps used to control a horse and the word is often used figuratively to indicate that a person is in control of something: He held the horse’s reins tightly and felt the animal champ on the metal bit between its teeth. When her father retired she successfully took over the reins of the family business. To give a horse free rein is to hold the reins loosely to allow the animal freedom… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Words easily confused: Instil and Install by Angela Caldin

Instil This means to put a feeling, idea, attitude, behaviour or principle gradually and by continuous effort into someone’s mind, so that it has a strong influence on the way they think or behave. It is related to the mind: Parents usually decide to instil good manners into their children from an early age. Some would say it is part of a teacher’s job to instil confidence into his or her students. Install This has three distinct meanings, deriving from the word stall meaning place or seat. It is related to physical… Read More