Distinctions in word usage : Day 1

1. Able , Capable :

He is an able man .

here able is used to convey a general impression.

He is capable of uttering falsehood.

The word capable is  used to denote something particular.

2. Abstain , Refrain

I abstained from meat.

refers to  a thing

I refrained from fighting.

refers to an action

3.  Adapt , Adopt

We must adapt ourselves to circumstances.

means Adjust

We must adopt  a definite course of action.

means Follow,take,choose

4. Adjacent , Adjoining

The adjacent countries were friendly.

means “in close proximity

The adjoining house is for  sale.


5. Admission , Admittance

Admission is difficult .

refers to being admitted to a class or society.

We prayed for admittance to the King’s presence.

refers to being admitted usually to a place.

6. Alternate , Alternative

He and I do the work on alternate days.

refers to leaving one (day) in between.

There is no alternative for us but to die.

refers to the other course.

7. Alternation , Alternative

Owing to the rotation of the earth, we have alternation of day and night .

means successive change.

There is no alternative but to submit patiently to the ill-treatment.

means another  course.

8. Ancient , Antiquated

India is an ancient country.

means old in time.

The Moyas are an antiquated people.

means old in fashion.

9. Artist , Artisan

The painter is an artist.

denotes some fine art.

The carpenter is an artisan.

denotes mere handicraft.

10. Artist , Artiste

Ravivarma was a great artist.

means an expert in a fine art.

Cine artistes are now honoured by government .

an actor by profession.

11. Assent , Consent

The President has given his assent to the Bill.

is essential

My father has given his consent to my marriage.

is secondary

12. Astonished , Surprised

I was astonished at the feat.

amazed , filled with wonder

I was surprised at his coming .

made to feel something unexpected

13. Avenge , Revenge

I avenged the murder of my friend.

An act of  justice , rough and common.

I revenged myself on my neighour.

An act of personal satisfaction. “revenged” is almost always followed by a reflexive pronoun as an object.

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