Common Errors Starting with R

racism

The “C” in “racism” and “racist” is pronounced as a simple “S” sound, Don’t confuse it with the “SH’sound in “racial."

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rack vs wrack

If you are racked with pain or you feel nerve-racked, you are feeling asif you were being stretched on that Medieval instrument of torture, therack. You rack your brains when you stretch them vigor...

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raise vs raze

<p>Raise is to cause to rise, bring up and grow.</p><pre>"The raise in the rates is alarming!"</pre><p>Raze is to demolish and level with the ground either by fire or other destructive elements.</p...

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rampart vs rampant

“Rampant” is an adjective which originally meant a posture seen in animals on coats of arms: rearing up on their hind legs, but in modern times it mainly means “wild” or “very widespread.” Some peo...

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ran vs run

<p>Run means to move forwards quickly upon two feet by alternately making a short jump off of either foot. It is more like walking at a fast pace.</p><pre>"I had to run so I could I catch the bus."...

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random

Kyle can choose the shirt he’ll wear for the day at random—they’re all orange. This sort of use of “at random” to mean “by chance,” is perfectly standard. (Kyle should get some new shirts, though.)...

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rapport

Many more people hear this word, meaning “affinity,” than read it,judging by the popularity of various misspellings such as“rapore” and “rapoire.” If you get along really well with someone, thetwo ...

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rate of speed vs rate, speed

Lots of people like to say things like “traveling at a high rate of speed.” This is a redundancy. Say instead “traveling at a high rate” or “traveling at high speed.”

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ratio

A ratio is a way of expressing the relationship between one quantity and another. If there is one teacher to fifty students, the teacher/student ratio is one to fifty, and the student/teacher ratio...

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rational vs rationale

“Rational” is an adjective meaning “reasonable” or “logical”: “Ivan made a rational decision to sell his old car when he moved to New York.” “Rational” rhymes with “national.”“Rationale” is a noun ...

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rationale vs rationalization

When you’re explaining the reasoning behind your position, you’representing your rationale. But if you’re just making up some lame excuseto make your position appear better—whether to yourself orot...

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ravaging vs ravishing vs ravenous

<p>Ravaging is the present participle of ravage which means to devastate, destroy, damage and lay waste to something.</p><pre>"The storm kept ravaging during the night, it ended up capsizing the sh...

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rbi vs rbis

Some people reason that since “RBI” stands for “runs batted in,” there is no need for an additional “S” to indicate a plural, and speak of “120 RBI.” However, though somewhat illogical, it is stand...

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reactionary vs reactive

Many people incorrectly use “reactionary” to mean “acting in response to some outside stimulus.” That’s reactive. “Reactionary” actually has a very narrow meaning; it is a noun or adjective describ...

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readably vs readily

<p>‘Readably’ is an adverb that is almost never used these days. It means ‘in a way that is readable.’ “He wrote quickly but readably.” Nowadays we would most likely use ‘legibly’ instead.</p><p>‘R...

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real vs really

The correct adverbial form is “really” rather than “real”; but even that form is generally confined to casual speech, as in “When you complimented me on my speech I felt really great!” To say “real...

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realize vs realise

“Realize” is the dominant spelling in the US, and “realise” in the UK. Spelling checkers often try to enforce these patterns by labeling the other spelling as an error; but it is good to know that ...

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realtor

For some reason, this word is often mispronounced as “real-a-ter"instead of the proper “ree-ul-ter.” Incidentally, realtors insist thatthis is a term originally trademarked by the National Associat...

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reap what you sew vs reap what you sow

When you plant seeds you sow them. Galatians 6:7 says “A man reaps what he sows” (harvests what he plants, gets what he deserves). This agricultural metaphor gets mangled frequently into “you reap ...

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reason because

We often hear people say things like, “the reason there’s a hole in thescreen door is because I tripped over the cat on my way out.” The phrase“is because” should be “is that.” If you wanted to use...

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rebelling vs revolting

Even though “rebel” and “revolt” mean more or less the same thing, people who are revolting are disgusting, not taking up arms against the government.

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rebut vs refute

When you rebut someone’s argument you argue against it. To refute someone’s argument is to prove it incorrect. Unless you are certain you have achieved success, use “rebut.”

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recent vs resent

<p>Recent requires to the timeline of an occurrence, having happened shortly or a while ago - not long either ways.</p><pre>"The paw imprints is recent, the animal is still around here."</pre><p>Re...

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recreate vs reinvent

The expression “no need to reinvent the wheel” loses much of its witwhen “recreate” is substituted for the original verb. While we’re at it,"recreate” does not mean “to engage in recreation.” If yo...

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rediculous vs ridiculous

<p>Ridiculous means something or someone worthy/deserving of ridicule as they are or it is silly, frivolous and unreasonable.</p><p>"Stop being ridiculous and get back to your dorm, its late alread...

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redundancies

There are many examples of redundancies in these pages: phrases which say twice what needs to be said only once, like “past history."Advertisers are particularly liable to redundancy in hyping thei...

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reeking havoc vs wreaking havoc

<p>To reek means to stink or smell unpleasantly while havoc means violence, destruction, devastation and mayhem. Therefore, the phrase 'reeking havoc' is inappropriate and incorrect to be utilized ...

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refrain vs restrain

“Restrain” is a transitive verb: it needs an object. Although “refrain” was once a synonym for “restrain” it is now an intransitive verb: it should not have an object. Here are examples of correct ...

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refute vs reject

To refute someone’s argument is to prove it incorrect. If you attempt no such proof but simply disagree with an argument the word you want is “reject.”

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regard vs regards

Business English is deadly enough without scrambling it. “As regards your downsizing plan . . .” is acceptable, if stiff. “In regard to” “and “with regard to” are also correct. But “in regards to” ...

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regime vs regimen vs regiment

Some people insist that “regime” should be used only in reference togovernments, and that people who say they are following a dietary regimeshould instead use “regimen”; but “regime” has been a syn...

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regretfully vs regrettably

<p>Regretfully means something expressing regret or an act of a person feeling regret.</p><pre>"I reminisced on my past decisions regretfully."</pre> <p>Regrettably is used to express something th...

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reign vs rein

A king or queen reigns, but you rein in a horse. The expression “to give rein” means to give in to an impulse as a spirited horse gives in to its impulse to gallop when you slacken the reins. Simil...

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reknown vs renown

When you won the national spelling bee you achieved great renown (fame). Now you are a renowned speller (notice the -ed ending on the adjectival form). Many people mistakenly suppose that because “...

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religion

Protestants often refer to “the Catholic religion.” Catholicism is a faith or a church. (Only Protestants belong to “denominations.”) Both Catholics and Protestants follow the Christian religion.

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religion believes vs religion teaches

People often write things like “Buddhism believes” when they mean to say"Buddhism teaches,” or “Buddhists believe.” Religions do not believe,they are the objects of belief.

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religiosity vs piety

The main modern use of “religiosity” is to describe exaggerated or ostentatious showing off of one’s religiousness. A better word to label the quality of being truly religious is “piety.”

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remotely close

“Not even remotely close” is a fine example of an oxymoron. An idea can be “not even remotely correct,” but closeness and remoteness are opposites; and it doesn’t make sense to have one modify the ...

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remuneration vs renumeration

<p>Remuneration means something given in exchange of goods and services rendered. Like a payment of work done in form of salaries and wages.</p><p>Remuneration is money paid for work or a service. ...

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reoccurring vs recurring

<p>Reoccurring is when an event or situation is simply happening again, at least once but not necessarily more than that.</p><pre>"We would have arrived sooner but the car's problem reoccurred."</p...

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repel vs repulse

<p>Repel means to ward off a malignant influence or attack. It also means to turn someone away from a right, privilege, job etc. It is to reject and put off a request or demand.</p><pre>"The boss r...

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replete vs complete

“Replete” usually means “stuffed,” “full to overflowing.” After eating a complete ten-course meal, you are replete.Although it has been used as a simple synonym for “complete,” this is now an unusu...

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reply back vs reply

“Reply back” is redundant because “reply” already conveys the idea of getting back to someone. The same is true of “answer back” except in the rather old-fashioned use of the phrase to describe the...

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report into vs report on

You can conduct an investigation into a matter, like a scandal or a crime; but the result is a report on or of your findings. You don’t make a report into anything. You could eliminate “into” altog...

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repungent vs repugnant, pungent

“Repungent” is an amusing mash-up of “repugnant” (disgusting) and “pungent” (strong, especially used of smells). It is used for repulsive smells; and though it is vivid, it’s not standard English a...

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request vs ask

If you want something you can request it or you can ask for it. Many people like “request” because it sounds more formal, more elegant; but to other people it just sounds pretentious. There are man...

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resign vs re-sign

<p>‘Resign’ is a verb that means to quit a job or position. </p><pre>“The mayor resigned because of a scandal involving his finances.”</pre><p> ‘Re-sign’ means to sign again, to rehire someone by h...

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resignate vs resonate

<p>Resonate is to vibrate or sound especially in response to another vibration or sound. It is to have an effect on or impact and provide influence for or against. </p><p>Resignate is an incorrect ...

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respiratory

Even health professionals tend to mispronounce this word by smooshing the second and third syllables into one. This word has several possible pronunciations, but “resp-uh-tory” is not one of them. ...

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respond back vs respond, reply

It’s possible that some people think they have to write “respond back” to distinguish a reply from other kinds of responses, like groaning and cursing, or chucking a request in the wastebasket; but...

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restive

“Restive” can mean “stubborn,” “impatient,” or “restless,” but never “relaxed” or “rested.”

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retch vs wretch

If you vomit, you retch; if you behave in a wretched manner or fall intowretched circumstances, you are a wretch.

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reticent vs hesitant

<p>Hesitant is used to express nervousness while attempting an action.</p><pre>"He was hesitant to ride the bicycle."</pre><p>Reticent is meanwhile used to express reluctance to do or in most cases...

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retrospective vs retroactive

<p>Retrospective can be described as affecting or influencing past grievances by looking backwards and contemplating about the past.</p><pre>"Really! What a retrospective method of thought."</pre><...

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revelant vs relevant

<p>Relevant means something or someone remains current and updated about a pertinent topic or issue. It is to be germane in all ramifications.</p><p>"The decision to change our plan at any time rem...

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ringer vs wringer

<p>A ringer is a person or a device that makes something ring. You have a ringer on your phone, and a person can be a bell-ringer. </p><p>Wringer is a device that removes water from wet clothes or ...

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rio grande river vs rio grande

Rio is Spanish for “river,” so “Rio Grande River” is a redundancy. Justwrite “Rio Grande.” Non-Hispanic Americans have traditionally failed topronounce the final “E” in “Grande”, but they’ve learne...

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risky vs risqué

People unfamiliar with the French-derived word “risqué” (‘slightlyindecent”) often write “risky” by mistake. Bungee-jumping is risky, butnude bungee-jumping is risqué.

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rob vs steal

When you rob a bank, you steal its money. You can’t rob the money itself. The stuff taken in a robbery is always stolen, not “robbed.”

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rod iron, rot iron vs wrought iron

Wrought iron has been worked (wrought) by hammering and bending, often into elaborate shapes. It is distinguished from cast iron, where the iron takes on the shape of the mold the molten metal was ...

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role vs roll

An actor plays a role. Bill Gates is the entrepreneur’s role model. But you eat a sausage on a roll and roll out the barrel. To take attendance, you call the roll.

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rollover vs roll over

A rollover used to be only a serious highway accident, but in the computer world this spelling has also been used to label a feature on a Web page which reacts in some way when you roll the ball in...

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romantic

If you are studying the arts, it’s important to know that the word “romantic” is used in such contexts to mean much more than “having to do with romantic love.” It originated in the Middle Ages to ...

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rondezvous vs rendezvous

The first syllable of “rendezvous” rhymes with “pond” but is not spelled like it. It comes from a word related to English “render” and is hyphenated in French: “rendez-vous.” In English the two ele...

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root vs rout vs route

<p>A root is the part of the plant or tree in the soil. </p><pre>“The roots of this trees have grown under the sidewalk.”</pre><p> It can also be used as an adjective for the category or vegetables...

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rouge vs rogue

You can create an artificial blush by using rouge; but a scoundrel who deserves to be called a rogue is unlikely to blush naturally. Many people write about “rouge software” when they mean “rogue s...

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rpms vs rpm

“RPM” means “revolutions per minute,” so it is redundant to add an S at the end of the abbreviation—it’s already plural. Adding the S is so common among people working with engines that it’s not li...

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rubbage

Although the generally obsolete form “rubbage” persists in some dialects, many people will assume if you use it that you are confusing “rubbish” with “garbage.”

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rueben vs reuben

Diner owners who put “Rueben sandwiches” on their menus may rue the day they did so when they encounter a customer who cares about the correct spelling of this classic American concoction of corned...

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ruff vs rough

<p>Ruff is an extension of a starched frill, worn round the neck. It could also mean the colored rings of hairs or feathers round the neck of a mammal or bird.</p><pre>A. "I eventually bought the J...

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rural

In some US dialects, the second R in “rural” is not pronounced, so that it sounds like “ROO-ull” or even “rull.” The dominant standard pronunciation sounds both Rs, to rhyme with “plural.”

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rye vs wry

“Wry” means “bent, twisted.” Even if you don’t have a wry sense of humor you may crack a wry smile. No rye is involved.

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revert vs reply

The most common meaning of “revert” is “to return to an earlier condition, time, or subject.” When Dr. Jekyll drank the potion he reverted to the brutish behavior of Mr. Hyde. But some pretentious ...

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revert back vs revert

Since “revert” means “go back,” many people feel that “revert back” is a pointless redundancy. “Revert” all by itself is better.

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ridged vs rigid

<p>Rigid refers to things or ideas which are stiff and naturally uneasy to achieve.</p><pre>"The school policy is very rigid on matters of indecency."</pre><p>Ridged is a long narrow elevation of l...

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