In the process of

In the process of is wordy for currently, which itself is almost always unnecessary. In most cases, the phrase could simply be removed with no loss of meaning. This might be hard to believe, but consider the examples below. Each sentence would mean exactly the same if in the process of were removed: Delaware County Sheriff deputies discovered the lab Thursday after receiving a tip that someone was in the process of cooking meth. [News on 6] The coal portion of TransAlta's plant is in the … [Read more...]


The adverb currently is almost always unnecessary. It usually just restates information already conveyed through verb tenses and can be dropped with no loss of meaning. Consider these examples: A 31-year-old Pennsylvania man is currently in stable condition after leaping off a Manhattan-bound Staten Island Ferry yesterday evening. [Gothamist] The Denver Zoo is currently training three of its gorillas to be the newest members of the Great Ape Heart Project. [Denver Post] Sarah Palin, … [Read more...]

Obsolescent vs. obsolete

Things that are obsolete are out of date or no longer in general use. Things that are obsolescent are fading from general use and soon to become obsolete. For example, the Windows XP operating system (released in 2001) is not obsolete because some people still use it, but it is obsolescent because it will presumably be falling out of use in the coming years. Things that are obsolete are usually not so out of date that they've been forgotten, however. When obsolete things are forgotten, they … [Read more...]

Impassive vs. passive

The adjectives impassive and passive may seem like they should be opposites (im- sometimes being a negative prefix), but they are actually somewhat similar in meaning, especially when they describe people. Someone who is impassive lacks emotion or doesn't show emotion. Someone who is passive is inactive, submissive, or nonresponsive. Impassiveness is a lack of emotion, whereas passivity is a lack of responsive action. More generally, passive means (1) receiving an action without acting in … [Read more...]

Psychiatry vs. psychology

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders. Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. Psychologists may work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts, but they generally can't prescribe medication (at least in the U.S.). Examples The board suspended the doctor from practicing psychiatry and ordered him to take a medical ethics class. [] In one remarkable … [Read more...]

U.S. state demonyms

StateAlabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South … [Read more...]

Chasten vs. chastise

Chastise means to punish or castigate. Chasten means to discipline or subdue. Chastisement is harsher, and chastening can be subtle and event gentle. Only chastisement would involve physical force or violence (though these are not essential to its meaning). Chastening usually comes in the form of verbal or social cues or formal rebuke. Both verbs are rooted in the adjective chaste, and they were interchangeable until the early 19th century, when they began to differentiate. They have not … [Read more...]

Marshal vs. martial

Martial is only an adjective, and it is narrowly defined. It describes things that are (1) of or related to war, (2) related to the armed forces, and (3) characteristic of or befitting a warrior. Marshal (with one l) is broader. It can serve as a noun referring to (1) a person holding one of various official positions, (2) a military officer, (3) an officer of the law or fire department in the U.S., or (4) a person in charge of a parade or ceremony; or as a verb meaning (1) to arrange or … [Read more...]


Participles are versatile adjectives (sometimes adverbs) formed by adding -ing or -ed to the stem of an infinitive verb. Participles like laughing, breathing, and stunning are present participles, and words like baked, blanketed, and cracked are past participles. While there are no irregular present participles, irregular past participles are numerous---for example, eaten, written, sung, hung, done. These are irregular because they don't end in -ed as most past participles do. Participles … [Read more...]

Lightening vs. lightning

Lightening is a present participle corresponding to the verb lighten, where to lighten is to make light or lighter. For example, we might say that a person who has been losing weight is lightening, or that an aging man's hair is lightening to gray. Lightning refers to an abrupt, discontinuous natural electric discharge in the atmosphere---i.e., the flash of light associated with thunder. Examples Lightening Besides lightening the mood with bright colours, fun shapes and pretty patterns, … [Read more...]

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