I saw this word confusion mistake in the opening few lines of a magazine – to escape the HOARDS of travellers…
Spell check wouldn’t pick it up. Hoards is a proper word – just the wrong word in this context.
From my experience working with super-smart young people (far smarter than I am!), I find many young writers either:
1. don’t know what word to choose – when faced with similar words
2. don’t care about what word to choose. (We don’t know – our audience won’t know the difference – why care?)
If you DO care –
Horde (noun) – is a crowd or mass or large number
Hoard (noun) – is a stash or stockpile and (verb) to stash or create a stockpile.
There are TV shows about people who HOARD things.
So, the writer in the magazine should have written – to escape the HORDES of travellers.
I was lucky to have great English teachers who often gave simple and very “visual” memory devices to help you remember how to tell the difference between sound-a-like words.
A cliche relating to hordes was to refer to the Mongol hordes.
These Mongol HORdES rode HORsES – so “that” word HORdE looks like the word HORsE.
Simplistic I know – but it’s easy to remember!
So, now you know.
Writers of all ages make mistakes. I make plenty – but at least I try to choose the correct word. English is such a confusing and complex and inconsistent language.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a good enough excuse to think “Why bother? My audience won’t know the difference” – especially when simple memory devices can help you choose the right word.
Here are some more simple memory devices.
Even if you know the different words – these devices can help you help other work colleagues or even young students you know. Many of my business clients I help tell me that they use the memory devices to help their kids!
I am very grateful for the wonderful English teachers I had – and I like to share the little tricks I learned and still use to choose the right word!
I have a hoard of tips that help hordes of writers (native English speakers and people who have English as a Second Language).
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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.