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July 13, 2022

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

Our illustrious former Henderson Writer’s Group el-presidente, Linda Webber, presented grammar lessons each week on the back of our meeting agendas. The gist of them were 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 (RIP), 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 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 the last of the series, and it’s Grammar Lesson Eight.

            Once again, my many thanks to Linda Webber, who went 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 online.


Cereal                         A grass-producing edible grain, or a breakfast food made from grains

Sasha at her cereal with lots of milk.

Serial                          Happening in a series

The old science fiction serial played a half-hour episode each week.

Chord                         A group of musical notes

Fred learned a new chord on guitar the other day.

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

The cords of muscle rippled through is body when he lifted the three-hundred pound barbell.

Climactic                    Forming a climax

It was a climactic ending to an otherwise dull story.

Climatic                      Relating to climate

Those climatic events had to do with hurricanes.

Coarse                                    Rough

The coarse cloth felt like sandpaper on her skin.

Course                        A direction, a school subject, part of a meal

Captain Johnson set a course for Hawaii.

Complacent                Smug and self-satisfied

His complacent attitude was sure to lead to a major mistake.

Complaisant               Willing to please

Holder’s second banana was so complaisant, it turned Jenny’s stomach.

Complement              To add to so as to improve, or an addition that improves something

The addition of the breadfruit was a complement to the ship’s crew diet.

Compliment               To praise or express approval, or an admiring remark

Ruby blushed at the compliment from the senator.

Desert                         A waterless, empty area or to abandon someone

The Mojave Desert isn’t as dead and dry as some think it is.

Dessert                        The sweet course of a meal

The kids couldn’t wait for the dessert of ice cream.

Discreet                      Careful not to attract attention

Remember to make discreet inquiries to the bad guy doesn’t catch on.

Discrete                      Separate and distinct

Those are discrete issues from what you proposed.

Disinterested              Impartial

We come from disinterested parties.

Uninterested              Not interested

I find it uninteresting.

Draught                      A current of air

The draught of warm air caught him as he opened the door.

Draft                           A first version of a piece of writing

I settled down with the first draft of the manuscript and began the editing process.

Draw                          An even score at the end of a game

After all of those plays, it ended up with a draw.

Drawer                       A sliding storage compartment

She slid the drawer closed after stashing her diary.

Dual                            Having two parts

The carburetor had dual chambers.

Duel                            A fight or contest between two people

Snelling died in a duel with Hampton.


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

            Happy writing!

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