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English for RPGs - Part 03

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Well, I haven’t seen very many new pairings in the last couple of days (although still seeing some of the ones that I’ve already done again and again). I thought that I might try to work some commonly confused words that I’m expecting to see in the future into my examples.


breath (n) an inhalation or exhalation, a pause
breathe (v) to take air in and out of lungs, to live

I await your answer with bated breath. You take my breath away. Take a deep breath. The air was cold enough to see one’s own breath.
Breathe deeply. Don’t you dare breathe a word of this to anyone! With an influx of money, we can breathe new life into the plan.


discreet (adj.) tactful, circumspect, able to keep silent
discrete (adj.) separate, individual

Older, married gentleman seeks encounter with fun and spontaneous female. Must be discreet.
The items were sorted into three discrete categories.


garrulous (adj.) talkative, loquacious (esp. of trivial matters)

(I’ve thought about it and I couldn’t come up with a similar sounding word that matched the meaning as it was used. It was used as a character flaw that mechanically required the character to spend twice as much on their debauchery when carousing. I crossed it out and wrote in “wastrel.” Maybe it was just a poorly chosen antonym of “frugal,” as I’ve heard of people being “frugal with their words/speech.” But, if anybody can think of something else, I’d like to hear it.)


it’s – contraction of “it is” or “it has”
its – possessive for “it”

It’s a good day to die. It’s been great seeing you again.
Every dog has its day. The creature tracked its prey through the dense undergrowth.


rife (adj.) prevalent, widespread
ripe (adj.) ready to be picked or eaten, mature, auspicious

The air was rife with the smell of sulphur.
The bullet holes in the buildings hinted that the locale was rife with danger.
The nectarine was ripe and pleasing to the palate.


sooth (archaic) (n) truth (adj.) true, soft
soothe (v) to calm, to ease (as pain, worry)

You’re unlikely to see sooth used all by itself; you might see it in “soothsayer” or “forsooth.”
The aloe vera plant is used to soothe burns.


who’s – contraction of “who is” or “who has”
whose – possessive for “who”

Who’s there? Who’s been into the cookie jar?
Whose muddy footprints are all over the carpet?


yore (n) long ago
your (adj.) possessive of “you”
you’re – contraction of “you are”

“In days of yore. . .”
You’re going to get your feet wet if you don’t put on a proper pair of boots.
This is your last warning. You’re under arrest.

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Updated 02-15-2009 at 08:34 PM by TAROT



  1. Aidan's Avatar
    Not bad.
    Don't forget vile/vial or regiment/regimen
  2. GoddessGood's Avatar
    Makes me wonder how many (if any) RPG books make misuse of precision and accuracy. Precision is a measure of the reproducibility of a result (i.e. shooting the same spot on a target repeatedly) while accuracy is a measure of how close that result is to the goal or true value (i.e. how close your shot was to the bullseye). If I repeatedly check the temperature of boiling water over a period of minutes and find the result to be 95 degrees C every time, I would be taking very precise measurements that were completely inaccurate.
  3. TAROT's Avatar
    Outside of scientific academia, the words are used fairly interchangeably, although you would be prone to use precision when referring to something like a legal contract or a carefully delineated list of instructions. The close grouping vs. bullseye distinction I would class as jargon.

    My first thought is of "sig figs." A measurement of 95.001 C being more precise than 95 C. Whether or not that result is accurate, well, that would depend on the atmospheric pressure.