Word choice is a critical tool when writing a story, as improper word choice can significantly, though unintentionally, change the meaning of a sentence. Below are a few similarly spelled words that often cause authors grief.
Affect vs. Effect
Affect is the verb form of the word. One affects something or someone. For example, “Heat affects ice by melting it.”
Effect is the noun form of the word. An effect is the symptom of an action. For example, “The effect of heating up ice is that it melts.”
Alter vs. Altar
To alter something is to change it. For example, “The team altered the size of the stadium to fit more fans.”
An altar is a religious table of worship.
Anecdote vs. Antidote
An anecdote is a short account of something amusing or interesting, usually used to illustrate a point.
An antidote is something used to counteract poison or some other undesirable element.
Compliment vs. Complement
This one’s a bit tricky. Both have noun and verb forms.
The verb form of compliment is to give an expression of esteem. The noun form is the expression itself. An example of the verb form: “I complimented her on her nice hair.”
The verb for of complement is to fill up or complete. The noun form is the object or person that completes it. An example of the verb form: “White wine complements chicken and fish, while red wine complements red meat.”
Nauseous vs. Nauseated
This may be one of the most commonly misused words, so pay attention folks.
When someone feels like vomiting, they feel nauseated. When something causes someone to feel like vomiting, that thing is nauseous.
Hope that clears things up. 🙂