Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 74)

Continuing the series, here are some more words that are often confused:

Fix(ed) vs. Affix(ed)

Wrong: He fixed his bayonet to the rifle.

Right: He affixed his bayonet to the rifle.

The two words have similar but slightly different meanings, so it’s important to keep them straight. Affixed simply means attached. Fixed, in this context, means attached or fastened so as to be immovable or permanent. After you affix something you might then fix it in place.

Pass the mustard vs. Pass muster or Cut the mustard

Wrong: He couldn’t pass the mustard, so I had to let him go.

Right: He couldn’t cut the mustard, so I had to let him go.

To pass muster is to pass inspection or measure up to a standard. Similarly, to cut the mustard is to reach or surpass a level of performance. Pass the mustard is merely a humorous confusion of the two phrases.

More next time.


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