English is a Confusing Language

For my first blog of the year, I thought I would talk about common misuses of wording in the English language. This is something I see quite frequently as an editor and proofreader. For those who don’t speak English as their primary language, it can be very confusing, given that many words have alternate meanings.

Here are some words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have quite different meanings:

Take the case of Assure, Ensure, and Insure:

Assure means to promise; to give assurance.
Ensure and Insure both mean to make certain – to guarantee.
Insure is usually in reference to taking necessary measures, beforehand, as in an insurance policy.

Let’s look at another example: Beside or Besides.

Beside means next to. Besides means in addition to or other than.

Another example is Compare versus Contrast.

Compare means to examine the qualities of more than one item so you can discover similarities or differences. Contrast means to examine two or more items, specifically to differentiate them.

In one final example, let’s look at the differences in meaning between the words Council, Counsel and Consul:

A Council is an advisory or legislative body.

Counsel means to give advice, or when used to describe a person, it refers to an attorney.

A Consul is a foreign service agent, stationed abroad.

By learning the exact meanings of words, you can ensure that all your documents: i.e. blogs, web content, reports, etc., actually mean what you “think” they mean.

When in doubt, hire a writer or editor to review your work before you finalize it or post it on social media.

Writer For Hire provides editing and proofreading services in addition to writing fresh, unique and customized content for businesses. For more information, email: