Word Confusion: For vs Fore vs Four

Posted March 6, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Forasmuch as this trio of heterographs confuses writers and spell checkers don’t take context into consideration, I reckon it’s not that surprising that writers miss this word confusion as often as they do.

For it’s been fourscore and many, many more years of confusing fore for for, and we won’t even go into how many fours have gone astray. For it’s not too much to say that, as writers, we need to go forward with forethought for all those impressionable readers for thinking that, if they see it in print, lo, it must be the truth, forsooth!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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For Fore Four
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: fore and four; Merriam-Webster: fore

An astronaut is holding up a For Sale sign while doing an EVA

“Satellites for Sale” by NASA is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Painted picture on page edges

“Fore Edge” by Laura HB http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurahb/ is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A white numeral four in a blue circle

“Santiago de Chile L4” is Madek’s own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Conjunction 1;
Prefix 2;
Preposition 1
Adjective 3; Adverb;
Combining Form 4;
Exclamation 5;
Noun 3;
Preposition 6
Cardinal Number;
Plural Noun
Plural for noun: fours
[Literary] Because

  • Since

Seeing that



To the uttermost



In support of or in favor of a person or policy

Affecting, with regard to, or in respect of someone or something

On behalf of or to the benefit of someone or something

  • Employed by

Having (the thing mentioned) as a purpose or function

Having (the thing mentioned) as a reason or cause

Having (the place mentioned) as a destination

Representing (the thing mentioned)

In place of or in exchange for something

  • Charged as (a price)

In relation to the expected norm of something

Indicating the length of a period of time

Indicating the extent of a distance

Indicating an occasion in a series

[Attrib.] Situated or placed in front

First in place, time, order, rank, etc.

  • Forward
  • Earlier

[Nautical] Of or relating to a foremast

  • Noting a sail, yard, boom, etc., or any rigging belonging to a fore lower mast or to some upper mast of a foremast
  • Noting any stay running aft and upward to the head of a fore lower mast or to some specified upper mast of a foremast

[Nautical] At or toward the bow


[Obsolete] Before

Combining Form:
[Added to verbs] In front

  • Beforehand
  • In advance

[Added to nouns] Situated in front of

  • The front part of
  • Of or near the bow of a ship
  • Preceding
  • Going before

[Golf] Called out as a warning to people in the path of a golf ball

The front part of something, especially a ship

Before (in space, time, condition, etc.)

  • Front
  • Superior

Nonstandard form of before

Cardinal Number:
Equivalent to the product of two and two

  • One more than three, or six less than ten
  • 4
  • Roman numeral
    • [Archaic] iiii or IIII
  • A group or unit of four people or things
  • Four years old
  • Four o’clock
  • A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by four
  • A playing card or domino with four spots or pips

Plural Noun:
A race for four-oared rowing boats

A competition for teams of four players, especially in bowls

He felt guilty, for he knew that he bore a share of responsibility for Fanny’s death.

I forbid your wearing that dress.

Rebecca could not forbear a smile.

He would never forswear the religion of his people.

It was only his forbearance that kept us from taking action.

They voted for independence in a referendum.

She is responsible for the efficient running of their department.

It was a demand for money.

These parents aren’t speaking for everyone.

It was a good firm to work for.

She is searching for enlightenment.

The necessary tools for making a picture frame.

Aileen is proud of her family for their support.

I could dance and sing for joy.

They are leaving for Swampscott tomorrow.

The F is for Fascinating.

I want to swap these two bottles for that one.

Copies are available for only a buck.

She was tall for her age.

It’s warm weather for this time of year.

He was in prison for 12 years.

I haven’t seen him for some time.

In spite of that broken leg, he crawled for 300 yards.

The camcorder failed for the third time.

Davy checked the fore and hind pairs of wings.

Check that fore topmast stay.

The plane’s exits are located fore and aft.

We’re moored fore and aft.

A sperm whale cannot see directly fore and aft.

Combining Form:
Foreshortening is a trick artists need to master if they want to use perspective realistically.

He opened the book with foreboding.

Writers frequently use foreshadowing in their stories.

“Grams! They just pulled in to the forecourt!”

Autopsies on imbeciles show an infantile development of the forebrain.

The forecastle is greatly crowded on this voyage; find out if we can go up to the forecabin.

My forefathers came from Germany, Ireland, and Norway.


“Um, you really should yell fore before you hit the ball,” George said as he dialed 9-1-1.

Take down the foresail before the wind rips the mast out!

Jerry’s hitting his forehead on the table again. Melinda must’ve ticked him off again.

Anyone know what the weather forecast is for the weekend?

It was a foretelling I looked forward to for a change.

I got promoted to foreman, honey.

We’ll be harvesting corn ‘fore the end of the month.

It’ll be a cold day in hell ‘fore I let you marry my little girl.

Cardinal Number:
Two plus two equals four.

Francesca’s got four brothers.

It took four of them to lift it.

We’re looking for a four-bedroom house.

No, no, that should read page iv, as it’s still part of the front matter.

George IV reigned from 1820 to 1830.

The girls walked in pairs or fours.

I began to teach myself to read at four.

It’s half past four.

She claims that she wears a size four.

“Hah! I got four of a kind.”

Plural Noun:
They won the women’s Senior Fours at Limerick Regatta.

A fours game shall be played between two teams each of four players, each member playing two bowls singly and in turn.

Adjective: for-profit Noun: fore-edge, fore-end, fore-topsail, forepart, forethought, foretop, fore-topgallant, fore-topmast
Verb, transitive: forearm
Adjective: four-color, four-dimensional, four-door, four-engined, four-eyed, four-eyes, four-four, four-handed, four-ply, four-square, four-star, four-stroke, fourfold, fourpenny, fourth class,
Adverb: four-square, fourfold
Cardinal Number: fourscore
Noun: four-bagger, four-ball, four-by-four, four-in-hand, four-leaf clover, four-legged, four-letter, four-o’clock, four-poster, four-seater, four-stroke, four-wheel drive
History of the Word:
1 Old English, probably a reduction of a Germanic preposition meaning before (in place or time) and related to the German für, also to fore.

2 Middle English, Old English. Compare the German ver-, the Greek peri-, and the Latin per-.

3 Late 15th century: represents the prefix fore- used independently.

4 Old English.

5 Combining form representing Middle English, Old English for (e)

6 Old English in the sense before in time, previously is of Germanic origin and related to Dutch voor and German vor.

Old English fēower is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch and German vier, from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin quattuor and the Greek tessares.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Body Painting – Padding-Top” by Exey Panteleev (Flickr: padding-top) is under the CC BY 2.0 license; “Supratrochlear Artery Forehead” is Jmeyerman8’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; “Agbari (Forehead)” is the work of the Dept of Art and Industrial Design Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta Ogun State in Nigeria under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license; and, “Gour2” is Shyamala1’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, all via Wikimedia Commons.

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