Understanding Confusing Words – Part 1

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019


understanding-confusing-words

In the last post we looked at some ways to learn new words – reading with context, flashcards, word group lists and studying by comparing words.

We had discussed about identifying words that are confused easily. In this post we will look at some examples involving these confusing words.

Now, will a misunderstanding cost you marks in the exam? Not necessarily so, because like we discussed last time, no questions simply ask for meanings of words. However, when you’re reading a block of text and reach this word where you are not quite sure of the meaning, that is enough to cause a problem.

The best thing to do next is read these words, understand the subtle difference, use it in a sentence or two and you’re good to go!

Let’s start with the easy set

Lie vs. Lay – An easy rule of thumb is to replace the words with sit and set. If sit makes sense (e.g., sit down) then lie should be used (lie down). If the sentence works with set (e.g., set the book on the table) then lay should be used (lay the book on the table).

You lay down a book on the table and then lie on the sofa. ‘Lay’ is used for the object while ‘Lie’ is used for the person

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Lose vs. Loose – You lose your book and your pant could be loose. Lose can mean “fail to win”, “misplace”, or “cease to be in possession”. Loose can mean the opposite of tight, or the opposite of tighten

It’s vs. Its – When you don’t want to say ‘It is’ say ‘It’s’.
Confusing? Don’t worry, just remember – You buy the shirt because you like ‘its’ colour. (What quality belonging to it did you like? – Its colour)

And when someone asks you what is the colour of the shirt and want to say ‘It is blue’ just say ‘It’s blue’

Affect vs. Effect – The verb affect means “to influence something”, and the noun effect means “the result of”. Try to remember it in the following manner: If something affects you it usually has an effect on you.What is the effect of demonetization on the economy? Did it affect the poor adversely?

Then vs. Than – Than is for comparing things. Then is for showing a sequence of events. He said “I am thinner than a stick” and then gobbled up his sandwich.

Moving on to a slightly more difficult set:

Insure vs. Ensure vs. Assure – To assure is purely to intend to give the listener confidence, to ensure is to make certain of, and to insure is to purchase insurance.

So when you go to the minister and submit a grievance, he will assure you that someone will look into the matter. Then he asks the officer on duty to ensure that the problem is solved.

Stationary vs. Stationery – Stationary means “fixed in one place and not moving,” like a stationary lamp-post or building. Stationery refers to materials used in writing, such as paper, pens, pencils, and ink.

Isle vs Aisle – Both are pronounced the same way but an isle is an island. An aisle is a corridor through which one may pass from one place to another.

Bonus fact – when two words have the same spelling, but different meanings they are called homonyms (e.g. the price is fair, let’s go to the fair)

Also, if two words sound the same but have different meanings, they are called homophones (e.g. pick a flower, bake with flour)

Adverse vs. Averse – Adverse means unfavorable, contrary or hostile. Averse means having a strong feeling of opposition. An easy way to remember is that you can substitute ‘harsh’ in place of adverse and the meaning should not change. e.g. They sailed despite adverse weather conditions.

Using averse is like saying ‘did not really want to’ e.g. He was averse to taking his medicine

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Credible vs. Credulous – Something that is credible is capable of being believed. If your friend tells you about this report that eating cupcakes makes you taller, you know that the source is not credible. ‘Credible’ can apply to both things and people.

Credulous means having or showing too great a readiness to believe things. Someone who is credulous is too willing to believe and hence easily tricked or taken advantage of.

Tortuous vs.Torturous – Tortuous means ‘full of twists and turns’, as in: The travellers took a tortuous route. Torturous means ‘involving or causing torture’, as in: They had a torturous five days of fitness training.

Disinterested vs. Uninterested – If you’re disinterested, you’re unbiased. A judge in the courtroom must be unbiased so she can be disinterested.

But if you’re uninterested, you’re bored. So the next time you want to tell someone you are bored, let them know you’re uninterested (and not disinterested)

Appraise vs. Apprise – To appraise is to estimate the value of something, for e.g. “the interviewer’s job is to appraise and evaluate.” On the other hand, apprise means to tell or letting people know about things.

Remember that in companies you have an appraisal meeting with your manager where she evaluates your performance and gives you feedback.But if you are late for this meeting, you are supposed to apprise her of the same.

If you read the last 10 words in this set, now is a good time to try to recall them and run them once in your head.
But why do this? Simply because, new words are easy to remember the first time, but if you don’t familiarize yourself with them, very soon you will forget all the new words you learnt.

Moving on to the next set of words:

Enervate vs. Energize – Enervate means to sap off energy or strength. It is the opposite of energize. So long lectures can enervate you, while a glucose drink will energize you.
Fortuitous vs. Fortunate – Fortunate is lucky, but fortuitous means by chance or accident. Fortuitous is closer to serendipity which also means by chance.

A news report said “More fortunate refugees have been taken in by local families.” However, meeting a friend from school at the movie theatre is a fortuitous event.

Invoke vs. Evoke – The word evoke means to bring something forth or to recall something to the conscious mind. It typically implies some type of emotion, imagery, or memory. For e.g. The comic strip will evoke laughter from its audience or This painting evokes childhood memories.

The definition of invoke has a number of meanings, including to assert (something) as authority, to appeal (to someone or a higher power) for help, or to conjure up (to invoke spirits of the past). For e.g. The president invoked martial law to stop the protests or He invoked the law to win the case.

Invoke is more direct and active than evoke in that all of these examples have an action that is being actively or intentionally performed

Ambiguous vs. Ambivalent – Even though the prefix “ambi-” means both, ambiguous has come to mean unclear or undefined. For e.g. The election law is written in an ill-defined, ambiguous way.

If you are ambivalent about something, your feelings about it are contradictory or mixed: you feel two (or more) ways about it. For e.g. She’s deeply ambivalent about the issue and can argue both sides very effectively.

When choosing between ambiguous and ambivalent, consider whether you are describing something that is unclear or vague: that’s ambiguous. If it’s a fluctuation in attitude or feeling, that’s ambivalent.

Paramount vs Tantamount – Paramount means best. Something that is paramount is of chief concern or supreme in rank. The word is often used in somewhat redundant phrases such as of paramount importance. For e.g. The best interests of the client are paramount.

Tantamount means equivalent. It describes the relationship between two things rather than the status of a single thing. For e.g. Breaking off negotiations at this point is tantamount to a declaration of war.

So that’s all for now. We will continue with more such words in the next post.

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CAT Exam 2018 Questions from Verbal Ability – Odd One Out

Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q1: Displacement in Bengal is thus not very significant in view of its magnitude.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q2: In many cases time inconsistency is what prevents our going from intention to action.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q3: Translators are like bumblebees.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q4: As India looks to increase the number of cities, our urban planning must factor in potential natural disasters and work out contingencies in advance.?
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q5: Much has been recently discovered about the development of songs in birds.?
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q6: Our smartphones can now track our diets, our biological cycles, even our digestive systems and sleep-patterns.?

CAT Exam 2018 Questions from Verbal Ability – Summary

Verbal Ability – Summary – Q1: The conceptualization of landscape as a geometric object first occurred in Europe and is historically related to the European conceptualization of the organism, particularly the human body, as a geometric object with parts having a rational, three-dimensional organization and integration.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q2: Production and legitimation of scientific knowledge can be approached from a number of perspectives.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q3: Artificial embryo twinning is a relatively low-tech way to make clones. As the name suggests, this technique mimics the natural process that creates identical twins. In nature, twins form very early in development when the embryo splits in two.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q4: A Japanese government panel announced that it recommends regulating only genetically modified organisms that have had foreign genes permanently introduced into their genomes and not those whose endogenous genes have been edited.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q5: Should the moral obligation to rescue and aid persons in grave peril, felt by a few, be enforced by the criminal law?
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q6: The early optimism about sport’s deterrent effects on delinquency was premature as researchers failed to find any consistent relationships between sports participation and deviance.?

CAT Exam 2018 Questions from Verbal Ability – Parajumbles

Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q1: The eventual diagnosis was skin cancer and after treatment all seemed well.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q2: Impartiality and objectivity are fiendishly difficult concepts that can cause all sorts of injustices even if transparently implemented.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q3: But now we have another group: the unwitting enablers.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q4: The woodland’s canopy receives most of the sunlight that falls on the trees.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q5: Self-management is thus defined as the ‘individual’s ability to manage the symptoms, treatment, physical and psychosocial consequences and lifestyle changes inherent in living with a chronic condition’.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q6: It was his taxpayers who had to shell out as much as $1.6bn over 10 years to employees of failed companies.?
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q7: They would rather do virtuous side projects assiduously as long as these would not compel them into doing their day jobs more honourably or reduce the profit margins.?
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q8: In the era of smart world, however, ‘Universal Basic Income’ is an ineffective instrument which cannot address the potential breakdown of the social contract when large swathes of the population would effectively be unemployed.?

CAT Exam 2018 Questions from Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension – Set 1: Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship between elephants and people has dramatically changed,” [says psychologist Gay] Bradshaw.
Reading Comprehension – Set 2: The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions.
Reading Comprehension – Set 3: [The] Indian government [has] announced an international competition to design a National War Memorial in New Delhi, to honour all of the Indian soldiers who served in the various wars and counter-insurgency campaigns from 1947 onwards.
Reading Comprehension – Set 4: When researchers at Emory University in Atlanta trained mice to fear the smell of almonds (by pairing it with electric shocks), they found, to their consternation, that both the children and grandchildren of these mice were spontaneously afraid of the same smell.
Reading Comprehension – Set 5: Economists have spent most of the 20th century ignoring psychology, positive or otherwise. But today there is a great deal of emphasis on how happiness can shape global economies, or — on a smaller scale — successful business practice.
Reading Comprehension – Set 6: NOT everything looks lovelier the longer and closer its inspection. But Saturn does. It is gorgeous through Earthly telescopes.
Reading Comprehension – Set 7: More and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions and philanthropic organisations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon: ‘metric fixation’.
Reading Comprehension – Set 8: The complexity of modern problems often precludes any one person from fully understanding them.
Reading Comprehension – Set 9: Grove snails as a whole are distributed all over Europe, but a specific variety of the snail, with a distinctive white-lipped shell, is found exclusively in Ireland and in the Pyrenees mountains that lie on the border between France and Spain. ?
Reading Comprehension – Set 10: Will a day come when India’s poor can access government services as easily as drawing cash from an ATM?

CAT Exam 2017 Questions from Verbal Ability – Odd One Out

Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q1: Over the past fortnight, one of its finest champions managed to pull off a similar impression.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q2: Although we are born with the gift of language, research shows that we are surprisingly unskilled when it comes to communicating with others.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q3: The water that made up ancient lakes and perhaps an ocean was lost.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q4: Neuroscientists have just begun studying exercise’s impact within brain cells — on the genes themselves.
Verbal Ability – Odd One Out – Q5: People who study children’s language spend a lot of time watching how babies react to the speech they hear around them.

CAT Exam 2017 Questions from Verbal Ability – Summary

Verbal Ability – Summary – Q1: Both Socrates and Bacon were very good at asking useful questions. In fact, Socrates is largely credited with corning up with a way of asking questions, ‘the Socratic method/ which itself is at the core of the ‘scientific method, ‘popularised by Bacon.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q2: North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis) look like easy meals for birds, but they have a trick up their sleeves—they produce whistles that sound like bird alarm calls
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q3: For each of the past three years, temperatures have hit peaks not seen since the birth of meteorology, and probably not for more than 110,000 years.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q4: A translator of literary works needs a secure hold upon the two languages involved, supported by a good measure of familiarity with the two cultures.
Verbal Ability – Summary – Q5: To me, a “classic” means precisely the opposite of what my predecessors understood.

CAT Exam 2017 Questions from Verbal Ability – Parajumbles

Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q1: This has huge implications for the health care system as it operates today, where depleted resources and time lead to patients rotating in and out of doctor’s offices
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q2: Before plants can take life from atmosphere, nitrogen must undergo transformations similar to ones that food undergoes in our digestive machinery.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q3: The implications of retelling of Indian stories, hence, takes on new meaning in a modern India.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q4: This visual turn in social media has merely accentuated this announcing instinct of ours, enabling us with easy-to-create, easy-to-share, easy-to-store and easy-to-consume platforms, gadgets and apps.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q5: The study suggests that the disease did not spread with such intensity, but that it may have driven human migrations across Europe and Asia.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q6: Scientists have for the first time managed to edit genes in a human embryo to repair a genetic mutation, fuelling hopes that such procedures may one day be available outside laboratory conditions.
Verbal Ability – Parajumbles – Q7: The process of handing down implies not a passive transfer, but some contestation in defining what exactly is to be handed down.

CAT Exam 2017 Questions from Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension – Set 1: Typewriters are the epitome of a technology that has been comprehensively rendered obsolete by the digital age.
Reading Comprehension – Set 2: The end of the age of the internal combustion engine is in sight. There are small signs everywhere
Reading Comprehension – Set 3: During the frigid season…it’s often necessary to nestle under a blanket to try to stay warm.
Reading Comprehension – Set 4: Creativity is at once our most precious resource and our most inexhaustible one.
Reading Comprehension – Set 5: Do sports mega events like the summer Olympic Games benefit the host city economically?
Reading Comprehension – Set 6: Scientists have long recognized the incredible diversity within a species.
Reading Comprehension – Set 7: This year alone, more than 8,600 stores could close, according to industry estimates, many of them the brand -name anchor outlets that real estate developers once stumbled over themselves to court.
Reading Comprehension – Set 8: I used a smartphone GPS to find my way through the cobblestoned maze of Geneva’s Old Town, in search of a handmade machine that changed the world more than any other invention.
Reading Comprehension – Set 9: Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species come hard-wired with specialized brain areas to create congnitive maps of our surroundings.

Other posts related to Verbal Ability

What Sherlock Holmes can teach you about Parajumbles in CAT
Tips and Tricks to Solve Para-Jumble Questions for CAT Exam
4 Rules to Crack the Paragraph Completion questions in the CAT
Let Sherlock Holmes help you solve Sentence Exclusion questions in CAT
Fact Inference Judgement – Tips to Solve FIJ Questions in CAT 2019
How to solve problem on Syllogism in CAT Exam
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Online Coaching Course for CAT 2019

a) 750+ Videos covering entire CAT syllabus
b) 2 Live Classes (online) every week for doubt clarification
c) Study Material & PDFs for practice and understanding
d) 10 Mock Tests in the latest pattern
e) Previous Year Questions solved on video


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