I’m Not A Grammar Stickler, But… Pt.1

I think one of my purposes in life is to help. Not to sound pompous, but a lot of you need help. Mistakes happen, however, it’s 2018 and the internet is free. Here are a few commonly confused words and tips to understand the differences.

Note: These tips are meant to improve the quality of your life. They are not meant to be used as a weapon against others. If you are in conversation with someone and they say the wrong word, it is totally okay to let it slide.

Conscience Vs. Conscious

Although similar in concept, these words are completely different. Conscience refers to the inner collection of morals one possesses. Conscious can mean “awake”, “alert”, “aware” and is often prefixed by “self” or used to describe a subgenre of hip-hop.

Example: My GPA is telling me that I should pull the fire alarm in order to postpone my exam, but my conscience is telling me otherwise.

Example: The author’s tell-all book is a conscious body of work - it expresses the innermost thoughts of the 15 year old version of herself.


Inspiring Vs. Aspiring

Another word pair I see missued is inspiring/aspiring. You can indeed be both inspiring and aspiring, but the word to use in your Instagram bio will most always be “aspiring”. Aspiring is synonymous with “ambitious” (aspiring model/singer/actor). You would use inspiring to describe someone you hold in high regard.

Example: As an aspiring rockstar, it is important to create a trademark look that fans will remember you for.

Example: Issa Rae created a web-series that gave strength to an awkward black girls across the world - a truly inspiring icon.


Segue Vs. Segway

Most people have never had to spell segue on paper and have only used it verbally, so I can understand how this would be confusing. There is a very simple distinction: segue is an uninterrupted transition from one thing to another and a Segway is a two-wheeled motorized personal vehicle.

Example: Conversations surrounding casual relationships are the natural segue for conversations about marriage and long-term commitments.


Example: Paul Blart, the esteemed mall cop, made his rounds on a Segway, which maxes out at about 6 MPH.

Formally Vs. Formerly

Formally known and formerly known kinda sound alike, I get it. Here’s the difference: formally means “officially” and formerly means “previously”. Say you have a friend named Sean Combs. In 2018, you would formally refer to him as Diddy, even though you formerly called him Puff Daddy. Get it? Good. I would hate for you to make this kind of mistake on a flyer for a huge event.


Example: I have heard about that professor, but I have never formally met her.

Example: The capital of Georgia was formerly Milledgeville, but thankfully it is now Atlanta.