Confused Words Exercise (42)

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.)

  • Any business leader with a ______ of sense would say this is the perfect time to borrow money to rebuild the country.

  • In an integrated curriculum, subjects are not dissected and separated into _____ chunks.

  • She finally _____ in her silliness and got back to work.

  • A company’s name change always _____ the business.

  • He never seemed _____ by my requests.

Answers and Explanations

1. Any business leader with a whit of sense would say this is the perfect time to borrow money to rebuild the country.

This sentence refers to a modicum, or small amount, of sense; a whit is a small amount.

2. In an integrated curriculum, subjects are not dissected and separated into discrete chunks.

The chunks in question are discrete (meaning "separate"), not discreet (meaning "prudent" or "unobtrusive").

3. She finally reined in her silliness and got back to work.

The person restrained her behavior as if controlling a horse with reins; reign means "to rule," which may erroneously lead writers to think that the idea is of ruling one’s behavior.

4. A company’s name change always affects the business.

As a verb, effect means "to bring about." Here, the meaning is "causes an impact," which is the definition of affect. (A company’s name change does not bring about the business, but one could write that "A company’s name change effected a loss of income for the business, though caused or "resulted in" would be a better choice.)

5. He never seemed fazed by my requests.

Faze means "disconcert," while the verb form of phase refers to carrying out in stages or introducing by stages. Requests can be phased, but one cannot be phased by them.

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