Tag Archives: exacerbate

Misused words that make me want to scream #1

27 May

Floor.

This word gives me countless headaches. To be more specific, people’s misuse of the word ‘floor’ give me countless headaches.

Why is it that people don’t seem to understand that the surface you walk on outdoors is the ground, whilst carpet, wood, lino, tiles and marble surfaces with a roof protecting them from the elements are all classified as flooring.

Dictionary.com defines floor as ‘that part of a room, hallway, or the like, that forms its lower enclosing surface and upon which one walks’. How hard is that to understand?

I’ve heard of people who mix up left and right (resulting in the hilarious mime where they have to hold up their two hands, Glee-style, to see which index finger/thumb combo forms the letter ‘L’). I’ve also come across people who have certain words they always confuse (accept and except, conscious and conscience, etc) and I’m not exempt from word confusion myself. My own tricky combo is exacerbate and exasperate.

Despite appearances, I’m not a wholly intolerant person. I’ll patiently explain the difference between these pairs of confusing words to students and friends who don’t mind me correcting them. But when I point out that a friend’s friend couldn’t possibly have fallen on the floor when he fell off his bike, I’m greeted with rolling eyes and a phrase I’ve grown to dislike: ‘Same difference.’ No, it’s not the same. He fell on the ground.

The thing is, the people who make this mistake are otherwise intelligent, articulate, well-read members of society. So why do they make this mistake? Is it for the same reasons that people confuse similar-sounding words? Or does it stem from laziness or some ignorant kindergarten teacher twenty-plus years ago who implanted this mistake without realising?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that it bugs the hell out of me.

Edit: Looks like WordPress suffers from word confusion too…

Proofreading Fail

Advertisements