Relying on spell-check and grammar utilities in your computer program isn’t the best way to make sure that you’re using the right words. Many words sound alike, and if you’re not sure of the correct spelling, you might accidentally insert one version, thinking that you’re using the other. If the incorrect word is still correctly spelled, your computer won’t catch the mistake, and if the word is the same part of speech, the grammar-checking utility won’t notice either. It’s up to you to learn the differences in spelling, pronunciation, and use of these often-confusing word pairs.
bazaar / bizarre
Pronunciation: buh-ZAHR / bih-ZAHR
Definition: an outdoor marketplace / strange or unusual
Example: We enjoyed walking around the huge bazaar in Marrakesh, but we thought the stall selling only cooked snails was a little bizarre.
grisly / grizzly
Pronunciation: GRIH-zlee / GRIH-zlee
Definition: disgusting, horrible / a very large bear
Example: After the grizzly attacked the campers, it was up to the park rangers to clean up the grisly remains.
magnate / magnet
Pronunciation: MAHG-nayt / MAHG-net
Definition: a wealthy person / something that attracts
Example: At the cocktail party, the publishing magnate proved to be a real magnet for all the aspiring authors in attendance.
rational / rationale
Pronunciation: RAH-shun-uhl / RAH-shun-AHL
Definition: sensible, logical / justification
Example: The rationale provided by the politician for his support of the new tax law doesn’t seem to be very rational.
regal / regale
Pronunciation: REE-guhl / reh-GAYL
Definition: royal, proud / to provide in abundance
Example: Each time Ellen came back from her dates with George, she would regale me with descriptions about how his regal bearing got them past the guards at even the most exclusive nightclubs.
urban / urbane
Pronunciation: UR-buhn / ur-BAYN
Definition: relating to a city / sophisticated
Example: Even for university students who were raised in small towns away from urban centers, it usually only takes a few months in New York or Paris for them to develop the urbane attitude that comes from living in a cultural metropolis.
Cross-posted on the Ultimate Spelling blog.