Pretense / Pretension

is to make believe; pretension is a claim

e.g. She makes no pretense to like her mother-in-law. (She does not pretend that she likes her mother-in-law)

e.g. He made no pretension to that award. (He never claimed that he received that award)

Ingenious / Ingenuous

is clever; ingenuous is natural, free from deceit.

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to fund the project.

e.g. The Mayor's response to the questions from the reporter was sincere and ingenuous.

Providing that / Provided that

Providing that
is incorrect; provided that means on condition that

e.g. You can go out to play provided (that) you have finished your homework. (meaning: on condition that)

e.g. You can keep the book for another week providing that no one has reserved it (incorrect: provided that should be used instead)

e.g. The millionaire has helped the poor, providing many of them with food and shelter. (correct; meaning: giving or offering)

Indoor / Indoors

is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.
e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Terminable / Terminal

: can be ended; terminal: at the end.

e.g. Your job is only temporary and terminable at any time.

e.g. The doctor told the patient that she had terminal cancer.

Complacent / Complaisant / Compliant

Complacent means being self-satisfied; complaisant means being too eager to please; compliant means obeying or submissive

e.g. I was filled with a complacent satisfaction when I eventually completed the project.

e.g. You are too complaisant with your boss: you over flatter him.

e.g. Unlike the computer, people are not compliant, and neither are they predictable.

Observable / Observant

: can be seen or noticed; observant: quick to pay attention.

e.g. The solution to the problem is observable to many scientists.

e.g. To be a good scientist, you must be observant of all the relevant details and data.

Welcome / Welcomed

is an adjective or a verb; welcomed is a participle.

e.g. You are most welcome.

e.g. This is a welcome party for all newcomers.

e.g. I like to welcome all of you.

e.g. The guests were welcomed by all of us in front of the house.

Defuse / Diffuse

Defuse: decrease the danger, such as deactivate a bomb; diffuse: spread over a wide area.

e.g. It is difficult to defuse the conflicts in the Middle East.

e.g. Once you open the bottle of fragrant herbs, their scents will diffuse.

Read / Peruse

: look at and understand; peruse: read thoroughly.

e.g. Don’t just read through the document; you have to peruse it to see if there is any hidden code.

Accountable to
/ Accountable for

Accountable to
someone; accountable for something
(meaning "responsible for").

e.g. The CEO is accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau