Confused Words Exercise (266)

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)

  • Some people endanger their health by adopting a strict _____ of diet and exercise in an effort to sculpt their bodies to a desired shape.

  • _____ punishment of schoolchildren fell into disfavor beginning in the 1960s, but many parents continue to quote the proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

  • The Stevenson character Dr. Henry Jekyll had a ____ personality: one side civilized, the other brutish.

  • Break the news gently; you can’t predict how it will ____ him.

  • The stereotype of tight-fistedness aside, the ____ people respond with generosity to those in need.

Answers and Explanations

1. Some people endanger their health by adopting a strict regimen of diet and exercise in an effort to sculpt their bodies to a desired shape.

A regimen is the regulation of aspects of one’s life that affect health. Regime was once used with the same sense, but now a regime is a system of doing things: "My daily regime begins with putting the dog outside, taking my morning pill, and brewing a cup of tea."

2. Corporal punishment of schoolchildren fell into disfavor beginning in the 1960s, but many parents continue to quote the proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

Both corporeal and corporal are adjectives meaning "of the body," but corporal is the usual word used to describe what happens to the body in a literal way. Corporeal has to do with the nature of the body and is used in a context in which the body is contrasted with the spirit: "My corporeal health is of almost as much interest to my mother as my spiritual health."

3. The Stevenson character Dr. Henry Jekyll had a dual personality: one side civilized, the other brutish.

Dual is an adjective meaning "consisting of two parts." A duel is a fight between two people.

4. Break the news gently; you can’t predict how it will affect him.

Apart from psychological jargon, affect is used as a verb and effect as a noun. When you want to say that something acts on a person, use affect. When it makes sense to put "the" in front of it, use effect.

5. The stereotype of tight-fistedness aside, the Scottish people respond with generosity to those in need.

Except in certain long-established expressions such as "Scotch whisky," the word Scottish is preferred as the adjective.

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