Commonly confused words

What exactly is the difference between respectable and respectful, childish and childlike? These words might sound similar but they have different meanings. In this lesson we will take a look at some commonly misused words.

Incorrect: There is no alternate; he must go to jail.

Correct: There is no alternative; he must go to jail.

Alternate means ‘every second’. It cannot be used in this sentence. Alternative is similar to ‘the other option’.

Incorrect: He lectures on alternative days.

Correct: He lectures on alternate days.

Incorrect: I like the childish simplicity of his character.

Correct: I like the childlike simplicity of his character.

Childish means silly or annoying. It does not mean the same as childlike.

Incorrect: I am the righteous owner of this estate.

Correct: I am the rightful owner of this estate.

Righteous means ‘virtuous’, ‘morally good or correct’. Rightful means ‘legally accepted as right or correct’.

Incorrect: That man has sent a respectable letter to me.

Correct: That man has sent a respectful letter to me.

The word respectable is wrongly used. If a person is respectable, then he / she accepts the moral or social standards of the society. Respectful means feeling or showing respect.

Incorrect: Monday follows Tuesday.

Correct: Tuesday follows Monday.

In this structure ‘follows’ means ‘comes after’.

Incorrect: I am sure that my confidant will not get shaken.

Correct: I am sure that my confidence will not get shaken.

The word confidant is incorrectly used in this sentence. Confidant means ‘someone you trust’. Confidence is your belief in your own abilities.