Similar Adjectives and Adverbs Distinguished
Since every person should acquire an accurate and varied vocabulary, your attention is again directed to the study of certain words commonly misused. It is, of course, impossible to present here a complete list of similar words.
They constitute a study of importance and would require a large book. The intention of the lesson is to present a few of the most common illustrations and to show how such words can be studied, with the aid of a good dictionary.
All definitions are taken from the New Standard Dictionary. ContinuaL Renewed in regular succession; oft’en repeated; very frequent as, continual interruptions.”
Continuous. Connected, extended, or prolonged without separation or interruption of sequence; unbroken; uninterrupted; unintermitted.
Continuous describes that which is absolutely without pause; continual, that which often intermits, but as regularly begins again.
1. Continual interruptions made it impossible to complete the work according to contract.
2. Mr. Johnson’s connections with this concern have covered fifteen years of continuous service.
FEW, LESS Few. Small or limited in number; not many; only a small number of. . Less. I. Smaller, as in capacity, quantity, or scope; not so large, great, or much; used as the comparative of little as, ‘Hess time.”
2. Lacking full number or quantity; smaller by subtraction or omission as, ”a year less a month.” 3. Of smaller import, of slighter consequence; inferior. use few when speaking of numbers; less, when speaking of capacity, quantity, or scope.
1. We have received fewer orders than usual. (Do not say less orders unless you wish to indicate their size rather than the number of them.)
2. There is less demand for cotton goods than there was a year ago.GRAND, SPLENDID Grand, i. Of imposing character or aspect; magnificent in proportion, extent, or belongings as, ”grand scenery “; “a grand palace.”
2. Characterized by striking excellence or impressive dignity; inspiringas, ‘ ‘a. grand idea ” ; “a grand oration. ” 3 . Preeminent by reason of great abihty or high character; noble; worthy of exalted
respect as, “the grand old man.” Splendid, i. Giving out or reflecting brilliant light; brightly
2. Magnificent; imposing; gorgeous as, “a. splendid pageant.” 3. Inspiring the imagination or causing emotions of great admiration; illustrfous; grand; glorious; heroic as,
“splendid achievement.” The foregoing definitions make clear the distinction in meaning between these words. You should not allow yourselves to fall into the habit of speaking of everything that pleases you as grand or splendid, though sometimes either is correct. These words are correctly used in the following expressions
1. grand jury i. splendid display
2. grand review of troops 2. splendid necklaces
3. grand cathedral 3. splendid pageant
4. grand opera 4. splendid parade
5. grand river 5. splendid sunset
6. grand old man 6. splendid costumes
7. grand result 7. splendid coronation robes
8. grand bridge . 8. splendid stone (diamond)
9. grand fireworks 9. splendid achievement
10. grand achievement 10. splendid scenery
Hardly, i. In a hard or rough manner; rigorously; harshly ;oppressively; severely; unfavorably as, “to deal hardly with one.” 2. With difiiculty or great pains as, ”Seamen’s wages are hardly earned.” 3. Almost not; not, with few exceptions; not wholly; barely: noting that the qualified clause is untrue, but lacks little of being true as, ‘ ‘He had hardly escaped when he was recaptured.”
4. Not quite; not, though almost: a euphemism for not, noting that the qualified clause is untrue, though approaching very nearly to truth as, “That is hardly the way to do it.”
5. Improbably; not likely as, “He will hardly take such a risk.” Scarcely, i. Only just; with difficulty or with little lapse of time; barely: signifying that the qualified attribute or action is true, but lacks little of being untrue as, “I had scarcely spoken.”
2. Not quite; hardly: negativing the qualified word, but asserting that it lacks but little of truth as, “You will scarcely maintain that proposition.” Scarcely is often improperly used for hardly. In strict usage scarcely has reference to quantity; hardly, to degree.
You may rightly say, “It is scarcely dun hour to nightfall” and “He will hardly finish his task before nightfall.” Do not say scarcely than as, ‘Scarcely had I recognized him than he addressed me.” In such sentences, use no sooner than. HEALTHY, HEALTHFUL Healthy, i. Having health; being in a condition of health; sound; well as, “a healthy body.”
2. Conducing or tending to health, etc. Healthful. Efficacious in promoting health or causing health;
sanative; salubrious as, “a healthful climate.” Healthy is most correctly used to signify possessing or enjoying health or its results as, ‘a. healthy person “; ”a healthy condition.” Healthful signifies promoting health, or tending, or adapted to confer, preserve, or promote health as, “a healthful climate.” MAD, ANGRY Mad. I. Disordered in mind; lunatic; insane; crazy.
2. Subject to overmastering emotion; excited intensely or beyond self-control; inflamed or infatuated, as with jealousy, terror, or grief. Specif, I. Strongly moved by desire or curiosity; eager; infatuatedas,
‘mad for gold.”
2. Wild with animal spirits; extravagantly gay.
3. Distracted with trouble or anxiety, as mad with grief; angry; furious; enraged. 4. Uncontrollable, as an animal through rage or disease, especially rabies. 5. Proceeding from or indicating a disordered
mind; rash, as a mad project.
6. Tumultuous or uncontrollable in movement or action: said of things, as a mad torrent. Angry, i. FeeHng anger; moved by violent resentment or indignation against the agent or cause of the trouble as, “angry with his brother.”
2. Showing or wearing the marks of anger; caused, occasioned, or aflfected by or as by anger as, ”an angry sky.” 3. Med.: inflamed as, “an angry sore.” 4. Vexed, grieved, etc. Mad in the sense of angry is colloquial. Do not say, ”You make me mad” or “I am mud at you.” In about nine cases out of ten the correct word is angry. You may very properly speak of a mad man, meaning an insane person, of a mad scheme, or of a mad dog.
NOWHERE, NOWHERES Nowhere, somewhere, and some place are correct. Avoid nowheres,
somewheres, and someplace. Do not say nowhere near for not nearly. REAL, VERY Real. I. Having actual existence; not theoretical or imaginary as, “That is a real instance of success.”
2. Being in fact according to appearance or claim; genuine; not artificial, false, spurious SIMILAR ADJECTIVES AND as, ”real diamonds.”
3. Philos. Having actual being, whether spiritual or material; etc.
4. Law. (i) Relating or pertaining to, or arising out of, lands. \2) Civ. Law. Relating to or connected ith things, including things movable and immovable, as distinguished from persons. Very. i. In a high degree; in a large measure; extremely; exceedingly as, ”very generous. Do not say, “I am very pleased to meet you” or ”He was very provoked.” You should say, ”I am very much pleased” or ”He was very muck provoked.” Avoid the very common error of using the adjective real for very.
The foregoing definitions leave no doubt about the distinction in meaning between the two. Do not say, “This book is real deep.” Say, “This book is very deep.” Here are several incorrect expressions: “real tired,” “real hungry,” “real pretty,” “real busy,” and “real unjust.” Very or really is correct in each case. RESPECTFULLY, RESPECTIVELY Respectfully. With due respect. Respectively.
As singly or severally considered; singly in the order designated as, “John, James, and William were elected president, secretary, and treasurer respectively.” In closing a letter in which Yours respectfully is to be used, be especially careful not to use respectively. SOME, SOMEWHAT Some. I. Of indeterminate quantity; of indefinite number or amount as, “He bought some land in Texas.” 2. Appreciable
yet limited in degree or amount; moderate as,
“The report is in some measure true.”
3. Conceived or thought of, but not definitely known: used to express ignorance or uncertainty in regard to the person or thing referred to as, “Some person drove past” or “He may fall into some ditch.”
4. Logic. Part at least; etc. 5. Colloq. Of considerable account; noteworthy or eminent As an adverb the word som£. has the following meanings: i. Colloq. In an approximate degree; as nearly as maybe estimated; about as, “Some eighty people were present.”
2. Dial, or Prov. Somewhat as, ”He was some tired” or “I like it some.” Somewhat. Adv. In some degree; to some extent sls, *’somewhat hastily,” “somewhat more than a year ago.” Remember, therefore, that some should not be used in the sense of somewhat. Do not say, ”Business is some better this year.” It is incorrect to say, “Shipments were delayed some” for ‘Shipments were delayed somewhat.” NICE, AGREEABLE Nice. I. Characterized by discrimination and judgment; discernin as, “a nice criticism.”
2. Refined and pure in tastes and habits; refined; hence overparticular; dainty; modest; fastidious; etc. From the above definition it is clear that nice in the sense of agreeable or attractive is colloquial. All such expressions as “nice time,” “nice man,” “nice business,” etc. are incorrect. APT, LIKELY, LIABLE Apt. I. Having a natural or habitual tendency (to); liable, likely, or given (to) as, “Iron is apt to rust.”
2. Adapted by nature; naturally gifted; fitted; able as, “apt to rule.”
3. Adapted to the purposeas, “an apt illustration.” Likely, i. Apparently true or real; easily credible; plausible; probable as, “a likely explanation.” 2. Reasonably expected; showing a tendency; etc. Liable, i. Exposed, as to damage, penalty, expense, burden, or anything unpleasant or dangerous; open; contingently subject; with to as, “liable to insult or injury.” 2. Justly or legally responsible; answerable as,
“The endorser is liable.” 3. Having a tendency, inclination, or likelihood (to do something unfortunate or undesirable); likely (with unfavorable sense) as, “All men are liable to err.” There are some places in which these words are exact synonyms and one may, therefore, be used for the other. For example,
you will note that likely is given as one of the meanings of liable and that both likely and liable are given as synonyms of apt. Words that have the same meaning in some cases, however, have different meanings in others, and the selection of the correct word where the meanings are different is important.
If you eliminate the first definition of apt, because this meaning of the word is the same as one of the meanings of the words liable and likely, you get its distinctive meanings, naturally gifted and
adapted to a purpose. Neither liable nor likely has these meanings. Similarly in the first two definitions of liable you get its distinctive meanings, exposed to danger and legally responsible. Neither apt
nor likely has these meanings. The distinctive meaning of likely is the first one given plausible.
Neither apt nor liable has this meaning. So much for the distinctive meanings that is, the place where
one cannot be substituted for the other. But even where the meanings are similar there is a slight difference. Apt refers t o a natural tendency; liable, in the sense of likelihood, refers to something unfavorable; and likely refers to something expected merely.
Thus you say “Iron is apt to rust” when you have in mind its natural chemical qualities; you say ”Men are liable to err” when you have in mind an undesirable possibility; and you say “That man is likely to do wrong” when you have in mind a real probabiUty. None of the three words is wrong in the sentences just given, but the slight shade of difference in them is worth noting.
The following is a list of similar words to be studied with the help of the dictionary or a good book of synonyms: adequate, enough, sufficient disinterested, uninterested apparent, seeming due, owing credible, creditable exceptionable, exceptional delicious, delightful funny, odd, peculiar desirous, anxious human, humane
new, novel, modern
pitiable, piteous, pitiful
plenty, plenteous, plentiful
surprised, astonished, astounded