Choose or chose? Loose or lose? Ensure or insure?

SpellCheck is a wonderful tool featured in my word processing software. It’s saved me from many typos. But navigating the spelling waters is tricky when it comes to correctly spelled but incorrectly used words.

You may intend to type “celebrate” but your fingers type “celebate.” Both words spelled correctly meaning different things. Previously I posted about “mandolin” (the instrument) instead of “mandoline” (the cutting tool) that appears in my latest cookbook. I’m still suffering bouts of embarrassment over that fiasco.

Here are a few commonly misused words that writers should double-check.

Choose or chose?

Choose is present tense; chose is past. Simple as that.
She wondered which tie he would choose. Relief filled her when he chose the blue plaid.

Loose or lose?

Not as simple as choose and chose. Loose means not tight and lose means rid or misplace.
The jeans were so loose, she decided she didn’t need to lose weight.

Ensure (forget the meal replacement drink) is not the same as insure. To make certain, you ensure. To protect against loss, you contact an insurance company to insure.
He paid a premium to insure his life. If he died, he wanted to ensure his children didn’t go hungry.

A book I recommend (if you can find it) is Words You Thought You Knew… by Jenna Glatzer. It contains (as its subtitle says) 1001 Commonly Misused and Misunderstood Words and Phrases.


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