Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

As discussed in previous posts, a self-editing checklist is often a helpful tool for authors. Today, I’d like to share some words that are often confused, and adding these to your checklist will save you time when self-editing:

Acute/chronic: A good way to remember the difference in these words is to think of pain. A chronic pain is unyielding. Acute pain is at its most painful or critical point.

Affluent/effluent: Both words deal with the flow of water. Affluent water flows into; effluent water flows out. Also affluent can deal with an overflowing of riches, etc.

All right/alright: Although increasing in usage, the experts agree. It is never all right to use “alright.”

Calendar/calender: The first is a chart showing the days of the week, month, and year. The second is a machine that is used to glaze of smooth paper or cloth.

Chord/cord: Chord has to do with music; cord is a rope or something that connects (tangible or intangible).

Desert/desert/deserts/dessert: Desert (noun) is a dry wasteland; desert (verb) is to abandon; deserts (noun): a just reward or punishment, such as “She received her just deserts.” A dessert is the sweet dish served as the last course of a meal, or a sweet treat.

Faithful/fateful: Faithful is loyal and dependable; fateful is an event or outcome controlled by fate.

Hanged/hung: One of my favorites: People are hanged and objects are hung. Easy enough.

Hoard/horde: A hoard is a stash or hiding place; a horde is a crowd of people.

Mantel/mantle: These words are confused by many writers. A mantel is the shelf or ledge over a fireplace while a mantle is a cloak or a cover.

From time to time, I’ll bring more information to add to your personal checklists.
Happy editing.


  1. Doesn't chronic also mean something that is recurring, not always constant? For instance, you suffer from migraines on a recurring basis, so would that be considered chronic?

  2. Anne: Yes. Merriam Webster does state that chronic means: "marked by long duration or frequent recurrence: not acute." It also means: always present or encountered...among other things.
    Acute means "characterized by a sharpness or severity...having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course, being, providing, or requiring short-term medical care; lasting a short time.
    The difference I think is that chronic conditions don't go away. Acute conditions can be severe, but they can be remedied.
    Good point.