Confusing words in English

Honored to witness the historical Inauguration and swearing in ceremony for the 45th President of the United States!” tweeted Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos), who is US President Trump’s nominee for Secreta

Published: 30th January 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2017 12:29 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Honored to witness the historical Inauguration and swearing in ceremony for the 45th President of the United States!” tweeted Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos), who is US President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. 

The tweet that went viral shamed Betsy and made people raise the question whether she is the right person to be the Education Secretary.  A volley of tweets slammed Betsy for her grammatically incorrect tweet.  Below are a few reactions from members of the Twitterati.


 Some middle school kids corrected education secretary Betsy DeVos Tweet, hilarious.
  Historic. Take a class in English.


After The Washington Post mocked Betsy for tweeting the ungrammatical tweet, she deleted the original tweet and put up a corrected tweet:  Honored to witness the historic Inauguration and swearing-in ceremony for the 45th President of the United States! This edited tweet too has a few errors.  


She incorrectly used the word ‘historical’ in the tweet. ‘Historical’ means ‘concerning history’ and it refers to past events whereas ‘historic’ refers to an event that is very important.


 There is historical evidence that Jallikattu has been practiced as a sport in Tamil Nadu for many centuries.
 Pro-jallikattu protests across Tamil Nadu in January 2017 is a historic event.


Which is correct:  a historic or an historic? The usage a historic and an historic are common in both American and British English though they show a preference for ‘a historic’. English language learners come across numerous confusing words that sound alike but have different meanings.

Here are some examples of such confusing words: assure/ensure/insure, complement/compliment, disinterested/uninterested. To assure means to tell someone that everything is fine or to remove doubt, to ensure means to make certain that something will happen or guarantee something, and insure means to issue an insurance policy or to protect financially. Here are examples of how these words are used in sentences:


The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu assured that he would take legal measures to ensure justice for the people in the Jallikattu issue.


Political parties in Tamil Nadu demanded a presidential ordinance to ensure Jallikattu events this year.
A complement is something that completes something else or a thing that contributes extra features to something else in order to improve its quality. The synonyms of complement are accompaniment, addition and finishing touch. A compliment is a polite expression. It’s a nice thing said about someone. Both the words can be used as verbs also.


 Fish and fries complement each other.
 He received a marveleous compliment from the Principal.
Similarly, disinterested means ‘impartial’ but uninterested means ‘not interested’.
 The TV anchor is known for her disinterested views.
 I am totally uninterested in the issue.

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