Fluent in Speech and Affluent in Wealth

By Maeve Maddox

Some speakers and writers are beginning to use the word affluent in contexts that call for fluent.

Here are some examples of incorrect usage I’ve notice on the web:

a good vocabulary is necessary… everyone should be well rounded and affluent in their own language.

[Name] has over 14 years of real estate experience, is affluent in Spanish and specializes in new home and residential sales.

[Name] was baptized in November 2006. She is affluent in Spanish, but her English is very weak.

[Name], who is affluent in Spanish, works with Hispanic students.

I need someone who is affluent in Spanish and I also would like to know about what they would charge for this.

I now realize that not everyone is affluent in Spanish.

Both fluent and affluent come from Latin words related to the idea of moving water: fluere, “to flow”; affluere, “flow toward.”

In modern usage, the most common definitions of the two words are these:

fluent [flū’ənt] : flowing or capable of flowing, especially with ease or freedom

affluent [ăf’lū-ənt] : having an abundance of goods or riches

The misuse reflects a nonstandard pronunciation of affluent that puts the stress on the second syllable instead of the first.

Here are some examples of the correct use of affluent:

Are Affluent Teens The Latest Victims Of Mental Illness?

These are affluent singles and couples who live in the chic high-rise neighborhoods of many big cities, owning swank condos and apartments.

An Increasingly Affluent Middle India Is Harder to Ignore

A person may live in an affluent neighborhood, but is fluent in a language.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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6 Responses to “Fluent in Speech and Affluent in Wealth”

  • reinkefj

    And, don’t forget our old friend, “Effluent”. Which is what I produce regularly on my blog. LOL, yet another reader.

  • sniff

    I too have seen “effluent” used in place of fluent with unintended hilariousness as the result. My personal favorite was in a job posting at a waste water treatment plant looking for an employee “Effluent in English”.

  • JC

    Careful of the effluents, though.

  • PreciseEdit

    Your first example made me laugh. (“everyone should be well rounded and affluent in their own language.”) Poetic justice, perhaps.

    In this comment to a blog post, the writer is ridiculing people for using words they don’t understand when making blog post comments. (If I’m looking at the same source, that is.)

    Even so, I wonder if this word choice error is a case of people writing according to what they hear (or think they hear) without reflecting on its correctness. Certainly, mistakes such as this show how the writing process differs from the editing process.

  • Joyce

    Great tip and I am always looking for for writing tips to keep me motivated and producing on my internet marketing blog.

  • parker gastonge

    I have lately noticed some articles that were written using the word affluent where I thought the word fluent was what the writer really meant to use,I was wondering if what I learned in high school was wrong.I would also like to know if proof readers still exist in todays world.

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