Still, I keep running into problematic word pairs; they’re turning up like run-on sentences in a James Joyce novel. Here are seven more pairs to note:
Exacerbate and exasperate
To exacerbate means to worsen (an already bad situation).
Example: Having John write the response will only exacerbate the backlash.
Exasperate means to exhaust, usually someone’s patience. It also means to annoy greatly.
Example: I find your use of sentence fragments to be exasperating.
Cognizant and cognitive
Cognizant means to have awareness, knowledge, or understanding.
Example: Always ask for a writing sample so you can be truly cognizant of the writer’s abilities.
Cognitive means related to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, thinking, and reasoning.
Example: His unclear writing style leads me to question his cognitive skills.
Wave and waive
As a verb, wave means to make a signal with the hand or to move freely back and forth. As a noun, wave refers to a ridge of water, a surge, or a rising trend.
Example: She waved one last time before she sank beneath the waves.
Waive means to defer, dispense with, or give up voluntarily.