Contrasing Words – Continual and Continuous, and their friends.
People often confuse words. They say this when they mean that. Here are some often-confused pairs that we do not want you to confuse ever again.
CONTINUAL & CONTINUOUS. Use continuous when describing something that keeps going on, without stopping. Use continual when describing something that goes on frequently, but in fits and starts.
- The ski boat has been in use continually [on and off] over the past week.
- The skiers have been practicing continuously all morning and I haven't been in the boat even once!
CONVINCE & PERSUADE. Use convince when your meaning is to "win people over to your point of view." Use persuade when your argument gets them to change their minds or their actions.
- Jokibell has convinced all of us [made us believe] that Texas is the only place to live, but we have not yet been persuaded [motivated] to move there.
- I could probably be persuaded [swayed] to enter the Yellow Rose of Texshus Barbecue Contest if you could convince [make me believe] that my applewood-smoked squirrel ribs could win.
FARTHER & FURTHER. Confine your use of farther to references involving physical distances. Use further in all other situations.
- How much farther do we have to go to reach Sandy's Flight Deck?
- I need to discuss this further [more] before I condemn Sassafras to a lifetime diet of no fried chicken.
- Aim for the red buoy that is farther [in distance] from the boat than the blue one.
FEWER & LESS. Use fewer when referring to a number of items or persons. Use less when referring to a single amount.
- There was less space [a single amount] in the boat than I thought, but there were also fewer divers [a number of items] than advertised.
HISTORIC & HISTORICAL. Use historic to describe any event that marks a milestone. Use historical when that event–or any event you may be referring to–warrants mention in a history book.
- I understand that Harrison's historical society [people interested in history] met yesterday in their new headquarters. What a historic [monumental] occasion that was! [Ed. note: In American form, NEVER use an before historic.]
LEND & LOAN. Use lend as a verb that means to "give on a temporary basis," and loan to describe whatever it is being given.
- Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me [not loan me] your ears.
- I got a low-interest loan from the bank today.
Thank you to my friends at ProofreadNOW.com Sign up for their newsletter, it's free. Their services are fantastic. Don't submit your articles without having them look through it one last time.