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Commonly Confused Words

You keep using that word…

Do you often wonder what the difference is between wander and wonder? What about the difference between a barista and a barrister? We’ve got you covered! Today’s edition includes five different words which are very often confused for the wrong one. Time to bust some spelling myths and crack the code!

Contents

Barista and Barrister

Let’s not confuse these two words. If you live in Melbourne, you probably know what a barista is. If you work in the city, you may even get a coffee from one every single day. Whether yours is a double shot latte, cappuccino, skinny flat white, mochaccino, or soy frappe, baristas are there to help you get through your day!

A barrister is a type of lawyer who will represent you in court.

In terms of pronunciation, barista has the emphasis on the -is, whereas barrister has the emphasis on the double r.

A barista vs a barrister

Sort and Sought

You probably wouldn’t write sought instead of sort, but you might well write sort instead of sought! Let’s look at the difference between these two words that are pronounced exactly the same!

You probably know what sort means so let’s look at it through examples:

  • Can you please sort this data in alphabetical order?
  • Go upstairs and sort out your room!
  • The manager needed to stay back to sort out a dispute among his staff
  • My Tinder date was a bit of an odd sort.

Sought is not as commonly seen, but it’s the past tense of to seek:

  • Darryl sought counsel from a barrister over the airport expansion dispute
  • The stray dog sought shelter from the cold and rain
  • She went to the nightclub and sought out her friend.

As you can see, you can quite easily use other words instead of sought. Looked for, searched, seek out…

Now, often you will see the phrase sought after, especially in real estate. It means something is in demand. A real estate ad might say something like a highly sought after apartment. Or, if job advertisements tickle your fancy, you may well be a sought after candidate for a sought after position!

Consider the difference between sort out and sought out.

Not only did we get sought after wrong, we’re also missing a comma after ‘flaw’.

sought after typo
I guess you could say this Facebook post contains a sought after typo. No? Okay… Not my best joke.

Asterisk and Asterix

If you don’t pronounce these words correctly, they may well end up sounding the same! You know sometimes when people accidentally say ‘arx’ instead of ‘ask’? Think of it like that!

An asterisk is the symbol on your keyboard that most resembles a star – * Hold down the Shift key and press 8. Asterisks have quite a few uses. Traditionally, they were used to denote a footnote. You use an asterisk somewhere on a page and then you scroll down and there’s a little note at the bottom of the page to give a touch more info, or a reference of some sort. I even used one in an earlier blog post! Check out Past and Passed.

Later on in life, the asterisk was used to replace letters when you’re typing bad words…

What a f***ing idiot this di**head is!!

I guess you could still use asterisks in instances like that but I think these days, people are more likely to just write the actual words, to be honest.

Nowadays, asterisks are commonly used in place of passwords or a PIN when you’re typing it in somewhere. You type in your password of abc123 and on the screen it says ******. It’s like some kind of wizardry.

But… The most important usage of asterisks these days is when you make a typo in a group chat and you want to correct yourself. That’s when you use an asterisk or two and write the correct word. It’s just common internet etiquette isn’t it?

Fred: Thanks for drawing up those contracts for me. Your the best!
Steve: Sorry, Fred, my what is the best?
Fred: **You’re

Wow! That was a lot of info on asterisks! Okay so then what’s an asterix? Well, Asterix is a comic book, or the main character from this comic book (the smaller one in the following image).

Asterix vs Asterisk

Orchard and Orchid

Once again, similar-looking words, but their pronunciation is different.

An orchard is a big block of land with fruit trees, for example, an apple orchard. The ch in orchard has a ch sound, like you hear in ‘cheese’.

orchard
An orchard

An orchid on the other hand, is a type of flower. They’re commonly given as gifts as they look ornamental. The ch in orchid makes a k sound like you hear in ‘kid’.

orchid
An orchid

Now, can you have an orchard of orchids? That’s a thinker.

Wander and Wonder

These words are commonly used interchangeably and it’s no wonder as to why. They both look very similar!

Wander, pronounced like ‘yonder’, refers to walking around with no particular purpose or destination. When you’re at the shopping centre with your significant other and they decide to go clothes shopping, you go for a bit of a wander don’t you? Similarly, when you’re out drinking with your mates in the city, what do you do afterwards? You wander around the city, possibly in search of kebabs.

Wonder, pronounced like ‘thunder’, refers to thinking about something curiously:

  • I wonder what will happen to Alex now that he failed his exam
  • Question number 4: What are the seven Wonders of the World?
  • The child stared in wonder as the magician pulled the rabbit out of the hat.
Wonder vs wander

I thought of a really good hack for this one, in case you get confused. Think of a magic wand and its pronunciation. It’s the same with wander.