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Bare/bear, allowed/aloud, advice/advise, and break/brake

We've got a bunch going all at once, here: learn to tell the differences between these eight frequently-confused words.

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Video transcript

- [David] Hello grammarians, hello Eman. - [Eman] Hello. - [David] Today we're going to be talking about four sets of frequently confused words. The one that I want to begin with is advice and advise. How do we keep these two words straight? Well, first of all, advice with a 'c' is a noun and advise with an 's' is a verb. These are really easy to screw up because they look very similar and you'd think that they have approximately the same sound, but the 'c' is advice actually ends up having a sss sound, an 's', and the 's' in advise ends up having a zzz sound, a 'z' sound. Let's use these both in a sentence. Bertram gives terrible advice. Mopewa advised us not to surf on a full stomach. So the word advice, the noun, contains another noun, the word vice, which is kinda like a, it's a type of clamp usually tightened by means of a metal screw and you turn it with a handle. In my context, in my experience, I've used it in woodworking projects to keep pieces of wood still. You want to clamp something while it's being glued together. You've got two pieces of wood, let's say this little piece of red wood and this little piece of blue wood. You want to glue them together, hold them still with a vice. If you remember that a vice is noun, you can remember that advice is a noun. And when you advise someone, yes, you are giving them advice, but this is the verb form. - [Eman] Now we have two other words that sound the same, but are very different. We have aloud and allowed. Now, they are both adjectives, but they have different spellings and different meanings. Let's start with the first aloud, which is spelled A-L-O-U-D. Note that it has the word loud in it, which can help us remember that this word talks about something being spoken loudly. Let's use that in a sentence. Ginny muttered aloud. - [David] So when we say aloud A-L-O-U-D we mean it is audible, it can be heard. It contains that word, aloud. Cool. What's this next one? - [Eman] Allowed with two 'l's. And a good way to remember this is to think about the word legal, which has two 'l's. If something is legal, it is also allowed, or permissible. Let's think of an example. Oliver allowed no peppers in his soup. - [David] Very allergic. - [Eman] He's very allergic, yes. Similarly, you might be allowed to drive at 60 mph because it is legal to drive at that speed. - [David] Sweet. Let's move on to our next set. Over here we have break and brake. These are both nouns and verbs, right? To break something is to crack it in half or to split or just to ruin or destroy something, but it also refers to the results of a crack or a split. Like you could say the break in a vase. Whereas brake, also a noun and a verb, refers to slowing stuff down. So to slow down or the mechanism that does the slowing. We have here both a verb form and we have here the verb form and the noun form. - [Eman] How do you remember the difference between them? - [David] Let's take it from the decision point. I'm writing a sentence and I'm trying to figure out which one I want to use. Let's just imagine we've got this un-word, brak, here. Now, if I want to use the break and destroy sense, in order to do that I just have to break the word in half and put that 'e' right in the middle. I broke the word in half, I put the 'e' right in the center, and that means that I've cracked the word. But let's say I've got brak over here. I want to slow down its forward momentum. I'm going to put that 'e' (mimics braking noise) right at the end. It looks sort of like a spring, we want to halt its momentum by putting that 'e' at the end. So let's put these into a sentence. Jesse breaks a vase. And how do we remember to say breaks with 'e-a-k'? Well, we put the 'e' in the middle. We break the word in half, we put the 'e' in the middle. Let's do the other one. Paolo slammed on the brakes. And how do we remember we want to have the 'e' at the end? Well, the 'e' is trying to slow Paolo down. We're trying to halt that momentum by putting that spring-looking 'e' at the end of the word. This one's one of my favorites. It's the difference between bear, B-E-A-R, and bare, B-A-R-E. Now the word bear, E-A-R, can be either a verb or a noun. When it's a noun it's this critter, but when it's a verb it means to carry. And B-A-R-E is an adjective meaning naked or empty. When I say bear as a verb, I mean that in the sense of bearing a burden, if you've heard that expression. Or if you've ever heard somebody say, I can't bear it! That literally means I can't carry it, but metaphorically means I can't withstand it. Bare is something more like, the cupboards were bare, meaning empty. Open up the cupboard, a fly comes out, something like that. So how do we keep these two words separate? Well, all you have to remember is this simple mnemonic: E before A, take it away. A before E, everyone can see that you are naked, or that your cupboard is empty. Those are just a couple of mnemonic devices, just memory aides that will, ideally, assist you in keeping these sets of words straight. You can learn anything. David out. - [Eman] Eman out.