Using Adjectives – Get It Right!

September 21, 2011

in Creative writing

There are quite a few pairs of adjectives that sound, look and almost feel like they mean the same thing, when in fact they don’t and can make you end up looking a bit silly. So, today, I have set out 7 of the most common for you to get to grips with.

1. Alternative & Alternate

Alternative refers to a variation or to offer choice. A person can be alternative by doing something different. Alternate, on the other hand, is to switch from one thing to another. For example, a pattern can alternate.

2. Extended & Extensive 

Extended means increased in length, or “lengthened.” Extensive means “of great magnitude”. For example, “He has an extensive resume.”

3. Desirable & Desirous

If something is desirable it is attractive or offers some form of advantage. Desirous, however, is to be driven by desire. As you can see, the two are completely different things.

4. Disinterested & Uninterested

This is a close call as both words can mean apathetic, but disinterested can also imply a neutral stance, whereas uninterested cannot.

5. Exceptional & Exceptionable

In terms of mixing up adjectives this pair form a classic. Exceptional means superior or amazing, and can also refer to rare. But exceptionable, on the other hand, means offensive or undesirable; something people take “exception” to.

6. Climatic & Climactic

Climatic refers to the weather, to climate. Climactic refers to a climax, something that builds to a peak, like an orgasm.

7. Forceful & Forcible

Forceful means to be pushy, persuasive or strong. For example, “He became really forceful when I said no.” Forcible – while it can also refer to powerful – means effected against resistance through the use of force. For example, “The police used forcible restraint in order to subdue the assailant.”

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