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Don’t be fooled by these words that are not words


This issue will focus on five words. Two of them are not words, but are commonly misspelt words. The other three might be words, but often used incorrectly.


Greatful and Grateful

Simply put, greatful is not a word. The word you’re looking for is grateful. It’s an easy mistake to make considering great is such a widely used word, however, the root of grateful doesn’t come from great, but gratitude. When you’re grateful for something, you’re showing appreciation or being thankful; it doesn’t have anything to do with being great.

Seperate and Separate

Once again, seperate is not a word. This is a common misspelling of separate. If ever you get confused, just sound it out. Separate has two different pronunciations, depending on how it is used:

As a verb, it’s pronounced sep-ar-ate. Maybe in school you may have heard this sentence: “If you two don’t stop talking, I will separate you!” Your fence separates your property and your neighbour’s. Sep-ar-ate.

As an adjective, it’s pronounced sep-rate, e.g. The granny flat is separate to the rest of the house.
Even though as an adjective it’s not pronounced as sep-ar-ate, sound it out anyway if you think you’ll get confused, as there is no sep-er-ate; only sep-ar-ate.

Let’s use a sentence which uses both forms of the word:

You can separate the various fields by putting the content on separate lines.

See? That first one is sep-ar-ate and the second is sep-rate.

Discrete and Discreet

While discrete is a word, it’s not a commonly used one and the word you most likely want is discreet.

Discrete: This means separate or detached in some way. Distinct is a better word; or individual.

  • Crimson, Burgundy and Maroon are all discrete shades of red.
  • This Lego building looks like one big block, but it’s actually made up of multiple discrete parts.

As you can see, discrete is not a very common word, but it does exist, so you should know about it.

Discreet: This means being careful or cautious so as to keep something private or confidential. Many adult stores have signs saying ‘Discreet entrance at the back’ or some variation. You might not want people seeing you go in there, so you take a secret way where you can slip in unnoticed. Or maybe your friend wants to tell you about a boy she secretly likes but doesn’t want to announce it to the world, so she comes over to you and quietly talks softly to you, discreetly.

If ever you get confused, just think of this rhyme: It’s sweet to be discreet. Your friend would appreciate you being discreet and keeping a secret. Sweet and discreet both have 2 e’s so that’s how you can remember.

Shinning and Shining

A little like above with Discrete and Discreet, although Shinning is a word, you probably mean Shining.

Shinning has two meanings:

  • The action of quickly climbing up something, e.g. a pole or tree, using your arms and legs.
  • The action of kicking someone in the shins (usually in sports).

Shining relates to shine, e.g. The stars were shining brightly in the sky; She was shining with excitement, as the guy she secretly had a crush on out of the blue asked her out.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you might remember their parody of the movie The Shining which they called The Shinning.

Upmost and Utmost

Upmost isn’t a terribly common word and it means something at the highest order, rank or position, e.g. the upmost floor of a building. Even searching google right now for examples, I really can’t find many. Like I said, it’s really not a common word these days and it’s highly possible that you mean utmost.

Utmost means extreme or greatest. It’s used when something is very serious or important, e.g. This letter is of the utmost importance; My mobile phone company is doing their utmost to try and keep my business.