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The English language has so many peculiarities that make it so special. A slight variation in the spelling or similar pronunciation creates lot of confusion. The words which are alike in spelling but different in meaning are known as “Homonyms”. Some words are pronounced similarly but have a slight variation in spelling. Such words are called “Homophones”. Being professionals of finance and accountancy, we use English on various platforms, Business Communications and Transactions. The attempt of this article is to throw some light on certain words and usages which often confuse us. The auto correction or spell checker available on the computers may correct some of the words but we must be aware of the actual and appropriate words by ourselves to avoid mistakes. Here are some of the words which often confuse us:

1. STATIONERY and STATIONARY:

Stationery- used for mentioning the items like pencil, pen, clips etc., relating to office use. Here observe the alphabet “E” after “N”. The other word with same pronunciation is “Stationary”- means “Not Movable, Fixed”. Here the alphabet “A” is used after “N”. Examples:

i) The Printing and Stationery expenses are very high this year.
ii) The instrument is not movable. It is stationary.

2. PRINCIPLE and PRINCIPAL:  

“PRINCIPLE” is used to mention the “RULES”. Easy way to remember is the common “ LE” at the end of the two words- Principle-Rule.

“PRINCIPAL” is used to indicate the main person of an organization and also the loan component. Ex.

1. The principal repayment will reduce interest burden.
2. He has got some principles in life.
3. Mr A is the principal of this Institution/College

3. AFFECT and EFFECT:

These two words are often confusing even for native speakers. For easy remembrance, I give you two equations:

“Affect= Action” – Both words start with “A”: “AFFECT” means influence, Change, Transform. This is also used to express feelings. Most commonly used as a VERB.

“Effect = End Result”- Both words start with “E” “EFFECT” means result, consequence, outcome. Most commonly used as a NOUN.

The following sentences explain the usage of these words.

a. Company earnings are the primary factor that affects the stock price ( used as a verb, = influences)
b. Dividends have little long term effects on stock prices ( used as a noun, =consequences)
c. This year the cuts on education in the budget affected the students.
d. Exposure to corporate sector has the effect of brightening his career.
e. The sale of personal effects will not affect your tax burden.
f. The Swachh Bharat cess on Service tax is applicable with effect from 15th November,2015.

4. WHETHER- WEATHER-WETHER:

Whether” is a conjunction used to indicate a conditional choice. “Weather” refers to current atmospheric conditions. But “Wether” has got different meaning. It refers to a male goat which is castrated. See, how careful we are to be in selecting the words. Let’s form sentences with these words.

a. WHETHER: Please check whether the auditor gave his consent before accepting the audit.
b. WEATHER: We may have to postpone the meeting as the weather is not fair today.
c. WETHER: The black wether is weighing more than the white wether.

This sentence is used all the three homonyms- “The shepherd worried whether the bad weather would affect the wether”- is it clear now?

5. ANNUAL – ANULL:

Though the spelling and pronunciation are different for these two words, missing one letter “A” will change the meaning. Annual return- return made for a year.

ANNUL- The assessment order was made annul- made void, no longer valid.

6. BOARD OF DIRECTORS- BORED OF DIRECTORS:\

The Board of Directors is a collective noun. Instead of typing “ Board”, if “ Bored” is typed, the secretary may be fired.

7. PREMISES- PREMISE:

“Premises” is NOT the plural form of “Premise.” A tract of land and building or part of the building is “Premises”. But “Premise” is something assumed or taken for granted.

a. He has accepted the appointment on the premise that there would be an increment every year.
b. The landlord will not allow structural changes to the premises.
c. The tenant undertook the repairs of the premises on the premise that his owner would reimburse the expenses.

8. ADOPT- ADAPT- ADEPT:  

The meaning of these three words is better known in the following sentences.

a. The Board of Directors adopted the annual accounts;  (approved, taken record of)
b. The company workers adapted themselves to the new environment.(Adjusted or accustomed)
c. The professionals are adept in financial and technical analysis.(Experts, Skillful)

These are some of the words where we must be careful in drafting the reports, letters or financial statements. These common mistakes are committed even by native speakers. By being little conscious while using these words we can eliminate mistakes in the reports/ statements.

-SHIVAJI PRASAD BHIMAVARAPU

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