Even more confusing word pairs

They continue to turn up. Just don’t mix them up.

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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.

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