|-cal/-cle||Adjectives end in -cal.
Nouns end in -cle.
e.g. critical article
|callous or callus?||CALLOUS means cruel, insensitive, not
caring about how others feel.
CALLUS means a hard patch of skin or
Interestingly, skin may be CALLOUSED
(made hard) or CALLUSED (having
|can or may?||Strictly speaking, CAN means ‘being able’
and MAY means ‘having permission’. It is
best to preserve this distinction in formal
contexts. However, informally, CAN is
used to cover both meanings:
You CAN go now (= are permitted).
|caning or canning?||cane+ing=caning
CANING is now banned in all schools.
Can + ing = canning
The CANNING factory is closing down.
|capital punishment or
|CAPITAL PUNISHMENT =death
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT = beating
|cast or caste?||Use CAST for a group of actors in a play
and for a plaster CAST and a CAST in an
Use CASTE when referring to a social
group in Hindu society.
|caster or castor?||Both caster sugar and castor sugar are
Both sugar caster and sugar castor are
Both casters and castors can be used when
referring to the little wheels ﬁxed to the
legs of furniture.
But castor oil, not caster oil.
|A CENSER is a container in which incense
is burnt during a religious ceremony.
A CENSOR is a person who examines
plays, books, ﬁlms, etc. before deciding if
they are suitable for public performance
To CENSOR is to do the work of a
CENSURE is oﬃcial and formal
disapproval or condemnation of an action.
To CENSURE is to express this
condemnation in a formal written or
|A CENTENARIAN is someone who is at
least 100 years old.
A CENTURION is the commander of a
company of 100 men in the ancient
|certain or curtain||CERTAIN means sure.
Are you CERTAIN that he apologised?
CURTAINS are window drapes.
Do draw the CURTAINS.
Note that the c sounds like s in certain
and like k in curtain.
|check or cheque?||Use these exemplar sentences as a guide:
Always CHECK your work.
May I pay by CHEQUE?(not ‘check’ as in
the United States)
|clothes or cloths?||CLOTHES are garments.
CLOTHS are dusters or scraps of material.
|Both constructions are acceptable but
many people still prefer to use ‘compare
|COMPLEMENT = that which completes
Half the ship’s COMPLEMENT were
recruited in Norway.
To COMPLEMENT =togowellwith
Her outﬁt was COMPLEMENTED by well-
COMPLIMENT = praise, ﬂattering
To COMPLIMENT =topraise.
|Use COMPLEMENTARY in the sense of
completing a whole:
Use COMPLIMENTARY in two senses:
(b) free of charge
|compose/comprise||The report IS COMPOSED OF ten
sections. (= is made up of)
The report COMPRISES ten sections. (=
Never use the construction ‘is comprised
of’. It is always incorrect grammatically.
|Both spellings are correct, but the ﬁrst
one is more commonly used.
|Both refer to diseases passed to others.
Strictly speaking, CONTAGIOUS means
passed by bodily contact, and
INFECTIOUS means passed by means of
air or water.
Used ﬁguratively, the terms are
INFECTIOUS laughter, CONTAGIOUS
|A person or an action worthy of contempt
A person who shows contempt is
|CONTINUAL means frequently repeated,
occurring with short breaks only.
CONTINUOUS means uninterrupted.
|A CORRESPONDENT is someone who
A CO-RESPONDENT is cited in divorce
|council or counsel?||A COUNCIL is a board of elected
COUNSEL is advice, also the term used
for a barrister representing a client in
|A COUNCILLOR is an elected
A COUNSELLOR is one who gives
professional guidance, such as a study
COUNSELLOR, a marriage
COUNSELLOR, a debt COUNSELLOR.
|credible or credulous?||If something is CREDIBLE, it is believable.
If someone is CREDULOUS,theyare
gullible (i.e. too easily taken in).
|curb or kerb||To CURB one’s temper means to control
or restrain it.
A CURB is a restraint (e.g. a curb bit for a
A KERB is the edging of a pavement.
|currant or current?||A CURRANT is a small dried grape used
A CURRENT is a steady ﬂow of water, air
CURRENT can also mean happening at
the present time (as in CURRENT aﬀairs,