Words Commonly Confused Part IV

Alternate and alternative

Alternate means every other or second of a series. Alternative means the other possibility or option.

You could take the bus as an alternative to train.
There was no alternative, so I agreed to the terms.
I visit my parents on alternate days.

Bazaar and bizarre

The noun bazaar refers to a street market in many parts of Asia. Bizarre means amusingly strange or unusual.

She went to the bazaar to buy some vegetables.
She dresses in a bizarre manner.

Breath, breathe and breadth

Breath is the air inhaled. Breathe is a verb. To breathe is to take in and blow out air in order to stay alive. Breadth refers to the distance from side to side.

Before you dive in, take a deep breath
Breathe deeply in open air.
In a square the breadth is equal to the length.

Cease and seize

To cease is to stop something. To seize is to take hold of something, often by force.

At last the war has ceased.
The rain has ceased.
He seized the letter from her hand.
The customs officials have seized the smuggled goods.

Cent and scent

Cent is a common currency subunit. Scent means a pleasant smell.

100 cents make one dollar.
I like the scent of jasmine.
They followed the scent.

Consistent and constant

Consistent means reliable.

He is one of the most consistent players in the team.

Constant means that which happens repeatedly or all the time.

I am tired of these constant visits to the doctor.
Our housing society provides a constant supply of fresh water.

Disinterested and uninterested

Disinterested means impartial. Uninterested means having no interest in something.

The judge must always be a disinterested party in a trial.
I was uninterested in the show so I left early.

Eligible and illegible

Eligible means qualified. Illegible means unreadable.

Only post graduates are eligible for this post.
His writing is illegible.

Formally and formerly

Formally means officially. Formerly means in the past.

They have formally announced their decision to launch the project.
He was formerly a minister.

Forth and fourth

Forth means onward. Fourth is the ordinal form of four.

They went forth like warriors.
The meeting is scheduled to be held on the fourth of February.