Word Confusion: Dew vs Do vs Due

Posted October 7, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 17 February 2018

I hate to say it, but I see this word confusion way too often in the Goodreads threads. I am most impressed with myself that I actually restrain myself from correcting them. Well, you have no idea how difficult it is for me to not edit this sort of thing…just ask my family! It took years before I stopped sending their letters back with corrections! Yes, I’m a pain, I freely admit it.

Meanwhile, do restrain yourselves from mixing these three heterographs up. It’ll do your reputation more good than may be due it, but if you do it, you’ll do well. And you’ll avoid the dew-laden cheeks of your sobbing readers.

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. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Dew Do Due
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: dew

Close-up of three drops of dew on a blade of grass

“Dew on Grass” by Luc Viatour is under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons.

“We Can Do It!” poster from 1943 by J. Howard Miller (1918–2004), an artist employed by Westinghouse, poster, was used by the War Production Co-ordinating Committee and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“That was Due Today” poster courtesy of Teacher’s Paradise.

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation 1; Noun 1, 2; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: dews
Past tense or past participle: dewed
Gerund or present participle: dewing

Verb, auxiliary, intransitive, & transitive

Plural for the noun: dos or do’s
Third person present verb: does
Past tense: did
Past participle: done
Gerund or present participle: doing

Adjective; Adverb; Noun
Plural for noun: dues
Distant early warning

A radar system in North America set up during the Cold War for the early detection of a missile attack 1

Tiny drops of water that form on cool surfaces at night, when atmospheric vapor condenses 2

Something like or suggestive of this, especially in freshness

  • [In singular] A beaded or glistening liquid resembling dew

Small drops of moisture, such as tears or sweat

[Botany] Droplets of water produced by a plant in transpiration

[Informal] Scotch whisky

  • Mountain dew

Verb, transitive:
Wet a part of someone’s body with a beaded or glistening liquid

[Poetic] To moisten with or as with dew

[Informal] Short for hairdo

  • Also ‘do

[Informal, chiefly British] A party or other social event

[British, archaic or informal] A swindle or hoax

[Music; in solmization] First and eighth note of a major scale 1

  • The note C in the fixed-do system

Verb, auxiliary:
Used before a verb (But not with be, can, may, ought, shall, will) in questions and negative statements

  • Used to make tag questions
  • Used in negative commands

Used to refer to a verb already mentioned

Used to give emphasis to a positive verb

  • Used in positive commands to give polite encouragement

Used with inversion of a subject and verb when an adverbial phrase begins a clause for emphasis

Verb, intransitive:
Achieve or complete, in particular

  • [Informal] finish

Act or behave in a specified way

  • Make progress or perform in a specified way
    • Get on

Be suitable or acceptable

Verb, transitive:
Perform an action (the precise nature of which is often unspecified)

  • Perform a particular task

Act or behave in a specified way

  • Have a specified effect on
  • Work on something to bring it to completion or to a required state
  • Make or have available and provide
  • Solve
    • Work out
  • Cook food to completion or to a specified degree
  • [Often in questions] Work at for a living
  • Result in
  • Produce or give a performance of a particular play, opera, etc.
  • Perform a particular role, song, etc., or imitate a particular person in order to entertain people
  • [Informal] Take a narcotic drug
  • Attend to someone
  • [Vulgar slang] Have sexual intercourse with
    • [Do it; informal] Have sexual intercourse
  • [Do it; informal] Urinate
    • Defecate

Achieve or complete, in particular

  • Travel a specified distance
  • Travel at a specified speed
  • Make a particular journey
  • Achieve a specified sales figure
  • [Informal] Visit as a tourist, especially in a superficial or hurried way
  • Spend a specified period of time, typically in prison or in a particular occupation
  • [Be done] Be over
  • [Be done with; have done with] Give up concern for
    • Have finished with

[Informal] Beat up

  • Kill
  • [Usually be done] Ruin
  • Rob (a place)
  • [British] Swindle
  • [Usually be/get done for, British, informal] Prosecute

    • Convict

    Be suitable or acceptable

    [Predic.] Expected at or planned for at a certain time

    • [Of a payment] Required at a certain time
    • [Of a person] Having reached a point where the thing mentioned is required or owed
    • [Of a thing] Required or owed as a legal or moral obligation

    [Attrib.] Of the proper quality or extent

    • Adequate

    [With reference to a point of the compass] Exactly

    • Directly

    [One’s due] A person’s right

    • What is owed to someone

    [Dues] An obligatory payment

    • fee
    In Frances Jewel Dickson’s The DEW Line Years: Voices from the Coldest Cold War, she recounts memories from manning those Distant Early Warning posts during the Cold War years.

    “In December 1954, construction began on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, an integrated chain of 63 radar and communication centres stretching 3000 miles from Western Alaska across the Canadian Arctic to Greenland” (Lynden T. Harris, The DEW Line Chronicles).

    In 1985, the North Warning System replaced the DEW Line.

    A cold, heavy dew dripped from the leaves.

    Her body had broken out in a fine dew of perspiration.

    She had a freshness to her, the dew of youth.

    Mountain dew was originally a nickname for moonshine.

    The soda, Mountain Dew, is produced by PepsiCo and was first invented in 1940 in the mountains of Tennessee.

    Verb, transitive:
    Sweat dewed her lashes.

    Her juices dewing on those luscious lips aroused Jared.

    A gentle rain fell, dewing her cheeks as if with tears.

    Are you coming to the soccer club Christmas do?

    Verb, auxiliary:
    Do you have any pets?

    Did he see me?

    I do smoke.

    Do you really think it matters?

    You do write poetry!

    I never seem to say the right thing, do I?

    Don’t be silly.

    Do not forget.

    He looks better than he did before.

    You wanted to enjoy yourself, and you did.

    As the cops get smarter, so do the crooks.

    I do want to act on this.

    He did look tired.

    Do tell me!

    Do sit down.

    Only rarely did they succumb.

    Not only did the play close, the theater closed.

    Verb, intransitive:
    You must sit there and wait till I’m done.

    We’re done arguing.

    They are free to do as they please.

    You did well to bring her back.

    When a team is doing badly, it’s not easy for a new player to settle in.

    Mrs. Walters, how’re you doing?

    It takes them longer to do their hair than me.

    She’s the secretary and does the publicity.

    He’s doing bistro food.

    Many hotels don’t do single rooms at all.

    He decided to do her a favor.

    Joe was doing sums aloud.

    If a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, then your pie is done.

    What does she do?

    If he’s anything like you, he’ll do.

    Verb, transitive:
    Something must be done about the city’s traffic.

    She knew what she was doing.

    What can I do for you?

    Brian was making eyes at the girl, and had been doing so for most of the hearing.

    Dad always did the cooking on Sundays.

    The walk will do me good.

    The years of stagnation did a lot of harm to the younger generation.

    The Royal Shakespeare Company is doing Macbeth next month.

    He not only does Schwarzenegger and Groucho, he becomes them.

    He doesn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs.

    The barber said he’d do me next.

    One car I looked at had done 112,000 miles.

    I was speeding, doing seventy-five.

    Last time I did New York—Philadelphia round trip by train, it was over 80 bucks.

    Our best-selling album did about a million worldwide.

    The tourists are allotted only a day to “do” Verona.

    He did five years for manslaughter.

    The special formula continues to beautify your tan when the day is done.

    I would sell the place and have done with it.

    Steve was not done with her.

    This would be an easy place to do, and there was plenty of money lying around.

    In business you had to do your competitors before they did you.

    Once you falter, you’re done.

    He was the guy who did Maranzano.

    We got done for conspiracy to commit murder.

    A couple of bucks’ll do me.

    The baby’s due in August.

    He is due back soon.

    Talks are due to adjourn tomorrow.

    The May installment was due.

    She was due for a raise.

    You’re more than due a vacation.

    He was only taking back what was due to him.

    You must pay any income tax due.

    Driving without due care and attention.

    We’ll head due south again on the same road.

    He attracts more criticism than is his due.

    He had paid trade union dues for years.

    Adjective: dewfall, dewier, dewiest, dewless, undewed, dewy-eyed
    Adverb: dewily
    Noun: bedew, dewiness, dewdrop
    Adjective: do-it-yourself, do-nothing, do-or-die, doable
    Noun: do-gooder, do-it-yourselfer, do-nothing, do-over, doing
    Phrasal Verb
    do away with
    do by
    do someone down
    do something down
    do for
    do something for
    do nothing for
    do someone in
    do someone out of
    do something out
    do someone over
    do something over
    do someone up
    do something up
    do with
    do without
    History of the Word:
    Old English dēaw is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch dauw, the Old Norse dǫgg, and the German Tau (noun) and tauen (verb). From the Old English dōn, of Germanic origin

    Related to the Dutch doen and the German tun from an Indo-European root shared by the Greek tithēmi meaning I place and the Latin facere meaning make, do.

    1 Mid-18th century from the Italian do, an arbitrarily chosen syllable replacing ut, taken from a Latin hymn

    From Middle English in the sense of payable and is itself from the Old French deu meaning owed, which is based on the Latin debitus meaning owed from debere meaning owe.
    NOTE: Traditional grammarians oppose the prepositional use of the phrase due to (first appeared in print in 1897), but the phrase is so widespread that it is considered standard English. However, it is still recommended that due to the fact be replaced with because as it is less wordy.

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

    Pinterest Photo Credits

    A Boy With Incredibly Long Hair Growing From His Head and Hands by Hippolyte-Guillaume-Sulpice is under the CC BY 2.0 license while Dew on Spider Web by Luc Viatour is under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses; both are via Wikimedia Commons.

    Kathy's signature