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May 9, 2018

We’re back with another set of similar sounding words with entirely different meanings.

Our illustrious Henderson Writer’s Group el-presidente, Linda Webber, has been presenting grammar lessons each week on the back of our meeting agendas. The gist of them are the improper use of words.

As a reminder, I’ll add the standard intro below before I get into the word list.


I once wrote a screenplay with my bud, Doug Lubahn, a famous musician. During our correspondence, I once told him I was waiting with “baited” breath instead of “bated” breath. He’s never let me live that one down.

The proper use of words is something a lot of (especially) new writers don’t always get. So, for your reading pleasure, below is a list of words and how to use them properly.

The list is not near complete, so that’s why this is called Grammar Lesson Two.

Once again, my many thanks to Linda Webber, who has gone through the trouble to compile these words all in one place for me to steal and present to you here at Fred Central.

These are common words that are often used out of context. They can be a quandary for a writer, and a quick trip to a dictionary, or on line. We’ll start with a common one.


Passed is a form of the verb to pass. It’s merely the past tense of pass with the “ed” added on.

I’ll pass it on to you.

I passed it on to you.

The law was passed in 2017.

Now past is a bit different.

It can be an adjective, an adverb, a noun or a preposition.

As a noun, it refers to a specific span of time.

It hasn’t worked in the past.

He never talks about his past.

As an adjective, it something that’s gone in time.

Let’s forget our past differences.

Their best days are past.

As a preposition, it goes from one side of something to the other.

Corey rushed past her.

Don drove past the house.

As an adverb, it’s sort of the same as a preposition.

…going past

…ran past

…walked past

Just know this. Past is NEVER a verb. That’s a big red flag.


Broach: To raise a subject or discussion

Jerry decided to broach the subject to the group before the meeting.

Brooch: A piece of jewelry

Nassar grabbed the gold brooch off the night stand and headed out the door.

Canvas: A type of strong cloth

Marie stretched the canvas tight before applying the base coat.

Canvass: To seek people’s votes

The party canvassed the neighborhood for the mayor.

Cereal: A grass producing an edible grain or a breakfast food made from grain

I eat cereal every morning for breakfast.

Serial: Happening in a series

Son of Sam was a serial killer.

Chord: A group of musical notes

Lucy tried to stretch her fingers to make a B chord on the guitar.

Cord: A length of string or a cord-like body part

The kidnapper grabbed his hands and tied a thick cord around his wrists.


Once again, thanks to Linda Webber for her hard work putting these original words together!

Happy writing!

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