Rappel vs. repel

To repel is (1) to ward off or drive back, (2) to cause aversion or distaste, or (3) to present an opposing force. To rappel is to descend a vertical surface, especially a cliff face, by sliding down a rope with a device that provides friction. The words are easily mixed up, and the misuse of repel in place of rappel is especially common. Examples Rappel Then hikers leave the trail and go down a gully, rappel down a cliff, cross a creek and hike another 150 meters to get to the base of the … [Read more...]

Repel vs. repulse

The verbs repel and repulse are generally used interchangeably in modern English, but they do have slightly different senses. Both mean to ward off or keep away, but repulse usually refers to physical actions, while repel (which is different from rappel) is more likely to be used figuratively or to denote emotional states. So the adjective repulsive actually corresponds with repel rather than repulse. Examples They were met by waves of police and security forces who used water cannon, tear gas … [Read more...]

In excess of

In excess of is wordy for more than, over, or exceeding, and it could usually be shortened to one of those words or phrases. For example, consider how much better these sentences would sound if in excess of were shortened: All in all, Zynga has already helped raise in excess of [more than?] $4 million in Haiti relief funds. [Fox News] Most priced in excess of [over?] $50 per bottle, the wines sell out quickly every year. [Napa Valley Register] She's sold more than 4 million albums in each … [Read more...]

Interment vs. internment

Internment is the act of detaining a person or a group of people, especially a group perceived to be a threat during wartime. The United States, for instance, infamously put many Japanese-American citizens into internment camps during the second world war. Interment is what happens when a deceased person is laid to rest. It refers primarily to the burial, but it can denote all the parts of the burial process. Interment comes from the verb inter, whose participles are interred and interring. … [Read more...]

Recur vs. reoccur

Something that recurs happens repeatedly, perhaps at regular intervals. Something that reoccurs happens again, but not necessarily repeatedly or at regular intervals. For example, the sunrise recurs, and an unpredictable event that happens to occur more than once---such as an earthquake or a financial crisis---reoccurs. Examples Recur Fresh off Golden Globe and SAG Award victories, the HBO drama will add this British actor in a recurring role on season two. [TV Fanatic] Seizures might … [Read more...]

Licence vs. license

In American English, license is both a noun and a verb, and licence isn't used. For example, one who is licensed to drive has a driver's license. In all the other main varieties of English, licence is the noun, and license is the verb. So, for instance, one who is licensed to perform dental surgery has a dental surgeon's licence. Examples U.S. A judge on Monday threw out a legal challenge to Illusions magic bar's entertainment license. [Baltimore Sun] During the 90-minute operation, the … [Read more...]


Series can be either singular or plural, depending on context. For example, you might write, "All of those television series are very good, but this series is my favorite." Dictionaries do list a plural of series---serieses---but instances of this form from this century are extremely rare. Examples Singular Harman International said Tuesday that its JBL Studio 1 loudspeaker series is now available. [Dealerscope] Aired in late 2009, this unmourned five-part series starred Tamzin Outhwaite … [Read more...]

Stadia vs. stadiums

Both stadia and stadiums are accepted plurals of stadium. Neither is right or wrong, but stadiums is far more common. This is the case throughout the English-speaking world, and it has been for several decades. English-speakers are not required to know the rules of Latin grammar, and most Latin-derived words with long histories in English are now pluralized in the English manner. We do still prefer some Latin plurals by convention, however, but stadia is not one of them. Besides, stadia has … [Read more...]


The noun species, referring especially to a group of organisms sharing common characteristics, can be either singular (e.g., that species is purple) or plural (e.g., these species are yellow). This is the convention in scientific writing, and it is usually followed elsewhere. Related Series The word does share a Latin origin with the singular noun specie, but species and specie have diverged in meaning over the centuries and are now unrelated in all their main uses. Specie now refers … [Read more...]

Imply vs. infer

To imply is to express something indirectly. For example, you might imply that it's time for a guest to leave by saying that you are getting tired. To infer is to surmise or conclude, especially from indirect evidence. For example, if you were to tell a guest that you're getting tired, the guest might infer that it's time to leave. More broadly, infer means to deduce. For example, when the sky grows dark in the middle of the day, you might infer that it's probably going to storm. Infer has … [Read more...]

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist