Word Confusion: Common Sense versus Commonsense

Posted May 15, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Yep, it’s another of those word confusions with a minute difference in definition. Much like any more, sometime, there in, anytime, and more. And yes, it does make a difference.

I don’t know about others, but I see every word when I’m reading, even if I’m only reading for pleasure. And I get worse when I’m editing, lol, as it’s my particular “common sense”, my practical ability! I’m like a hunting dog; once I see a misspelling, typo, or word confusion, my hackles begin to rise. With each additional error, I become more aware of mistakes, and eventually I’m huntin’ for ‘em. You really don’t want me on the trail unless you’ve hired me to edit or proofread, *grin*.

Instead, use your commonsense when you’re proofing your own work, be paranoid. Check every word if it’s not one you commonly use. Make a list of the words you know you confuse — add to that list *grin*!

Another example of commonsense found me adding into Auto Correct those irksome noun phrases; you can only add a single word as the “trigger” but the “corrected” word can be a phrase. In other words, type “afterawhile” to create after a while, “onceinawhile” for once in a while, and the same for for a while and in a while. Or just bookmark the post for A While vs Awhile vs While or Whilst vs Wile for future reference, lol.

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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Common Sense Commonsense
Credit to: Burckmyer, 112

“CPR Training” is Rama’s own work under the CC BY-SA 2.0 fr license, via Wikimedia Commons

Common sense is involved in CPR training.

“Farming Zone Sign” is courtesy of Smallbot, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s only commonsense to keep an eye out for tractors.

Part of Grammar:

Alternative spelling: common-sense

Practical ability Sensibility
She left school in the eighth grade, but has a lot of common sense.

Will you please use your common sense!?

Because it was raining, he chose the commonsense alternative of taking the train.

It’s only commonsense to pay attention to traffic signs and cautions.

Adjective: commonsensible, commonsensical
Adverb: commonsensibly, commonsensically
History of the Word:
1525-35 as a translation of the Latin sēnsus commūnis is itself a translation of the Greek koinḕ aísthēsis.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

View At Rouelles, Le Havre” by Claude Monet is in the public domain and “Abstract Child Art” uploaded by Sage Ross (based on copyright claims) is under the CC BY-SA 2.5 license, both via Wikimedia Commons.