advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Alternate/alternative

As a verb, alternate means ‘to succeed in alternation’ (The two speakers alternated in answering questions form the audience); as a noun, ‘a substitute (I can’t attend the conference, but we’re allowed to send an alternate); as an adjective, ‘occurring by turns’ (The cake consists of alternate layers of cake, whipped cream and fruit filling)

Alternative involves a choice between two options: An alternative choice to cake is fresh fruit.

Forceful/forcible

Forceful means ‘powerful, effective’; forcible is ‘using force or violence’.

The lawyer made a forceful plea for clemency on behalf of the accused; The complainant alleges that her treatment by the mall’s security guards amounted to forcible confinement.

 Militate/mitigate

The first is to ‘lend support, have force’; the second, to ‘alleviate, make less severe, moderate.

The totality of the circumstantial evidence militates in favour of a finding of guilt; The youth of the accused and her lack of a previous criminal record are mitigating factors that should be considered in sentencing her.

 Complex/complicated

These are interchangeable, both meaning (1) involved or intricate and (2) made up of different elements, compound.

We tend, I think, to say complex litigation but a complicated problem.

 Every one/everyone

Two words in the ‘each and every’ sense, one where you could substitute everybody.

I ate every one of the sandwiches BUT Everyone ate a sandwich.

In spite of/despite

Actually, no difference in meaning.

Despite (shortened from the earlier in despite of) perhaps sounds a little more old-fashioned?

Although or even though would also work.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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