Confusing Words Clarified: Group P; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc. +

(lists of "P" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)

If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.

penned, pinned
penned (PEN'd) (verb)
1. To have written something, often done with a writing instrument which uses ink: The document was penned and signed by the professors at the university.
2. To have been confined in an enclosed area: In the morning, the sheep were released back into the field of grass by the shepherd after having been penned during the night for their protection.
pinned (PIN'd) (verb)
1. Having immobilized or limited the movement of something or someone: The wrestler was pinned to the canvas by his opponent.
2. To have given a girl a fraternity insignia as a token of affection: Tony pinned his girlfriend as a symbol of his love for her.
3. Having assigned responsibility for something: The police pinned the blame for the accident on the driver who was using his cell phone while driving.
4. To have fastened or joined together: The pattern for the dress was pinned to the fabric by the seamstress.

Once Stephen, a university student, had pinned his girl friend, his sister penned a poem expressing her delight.

people, persons
people (PEE puhl) (noun)
Large groups or an undetermined number of individuals: Thousands of people attended the annual book fair.
persons (PUR suhnz) (noun)
A relatively small or exact number of individuals: There were only fifty persons who won prizes.

The plural of person is usually people except in formal or legal contexts, where the plural is often persons.

The words people and persons both refer to a number of individuals and are used interchangeably in most contexts.

No safe rule exists for choosing between people and persons except possibly what is expressed in the definitions as shown above. Since both words are in the plural format, neither term can be used to refer to an individual.

—Compiled from information presented by
Harry Shaw in Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions;
McGraw-Hill Book Company; New York; 1987; page 271.

Of all the people in the great hall, only five persons were selected to make speeches.

per, purr
per (PUR) (preposition)
1. According to: Gary did what he was told to do per the instructions that he had received.
2. For each item, often with a financial context: The price per box of chocolates is higher in this store than in the store across the street.
purr (PUR) (verb)
1. To produce a vibrating murmur as when a cat is content and happy: Carol's kitten will purr very loudly after it has eaten and is lying on her lap.
2. To speak in a manner that suggests a murmur of contentment: The novel described Lenora's way of talking in that she will purr when she gets what she wants.
3. To say something in a gossipy manner: When Etta and Lottie get together, they purr as they chat about their friends and fellow workers.

As per what Andrews's veterinarian told him, his cat started to purr once she had taken some of the medicine that was prescribed.

percent, per cent; percentage; percentile
percent, per cent (puhr SENT) (noun)
An amount that is equal to one one-hundredth of something: It is estimated that water covers more than 70 percent of the earth's surface.

Shelby is 99.9 percent sure that her version of the incident is accurate.

percentage (puhr SEN tij) (noun)
1. A share of the winnings of an undertaking: After taxes, Scott received a percentage of the profit from the sale of the property.

Camille was pleased with her percentage of the bet she made at the horse race in the afternoon.

2. Part of the whole of something presented in hundredths: Sally asked, "What is the percentage of winners in the lottery?"
percentile (puhr SENT tighl") (noun)
One of 100 equal parts that a group of people can be divided into in order to rank them: Larry's friend scored in the 95th percentile in advanced vocabulary skills.

Trina wonders what the percentage is of people who achieve a 100 percent on their driver's test. Her mother was in the top 75th percentile of her age when she took her last driver’s test.

perch, perch, perch
perch (PURCH) (verb)
To sit on or to be on something high or on something from which it is easy to fall: Birds often perch on the ledge outside Brian's window.
perch (PURCH) (noun)
A high seat or location: The lifeguard watches the swimmers from his high perch.

The bird flew down from its perch in the tree.

perch (PURCH) (noun)
A fish that lives in rivers and streams and which is eaten as food: Brenda's father caught a good supply of perch for the family's dinner.

James decided to perch on his perch so he could see the school of perch when they swim up the river towards his favorite fishing spot.

perches, perches, purchase, purchase
perches (PURCH uhs) (noun)
1. Bars or pegs upon which something may be hung or upon which something may sit: The pet store had several different perches to choose from for Bob's new parrot.

There was a row of perches in the cloakroom upon which to hang people's coats.

2. Several small, white European fresh water fish; plural, perch or perches: The river was abundant with perches and so successful fishing was easier to achieve.
perches (PURCH uhs) (verb)
To sit or to rest in a somewhat precarious situation: Lenora's friend always perches on the edge of her chair.

The eagle perches on the edge of the cliff ready to fly away.

purchase (PUR chis) (verb)
1. To acquire something for a price in money or an equivalent: Gary was commited to purchase a brace of pheasant for the elegant dinner he was planning.
2. To move through the use of a mechanical device: The stone masons sought to purchase the rocks by using a lever to raise them.
purchase (PUR chis) (noun)
1. That which has been acquired by flattery, sacrifice, or a bribe: Tim's position on the Board of Directors was procured through purchase and not through hard work.
2. The ownership of property, etc. by means other than by inheriting it: Willard acquired the ancestral lands by purchase instead of by legacy.

The pet shop had to purchase more perches for the additional birds that were coming.

perfect, perfect, perfect, prefect
perfect (PUR fikt) (adjective)
1. Without fault or defect; complete, faultless in all respects: Estella's explanation was perfect and there was no confusion.
2. Descriptive of something or someone that meets ideal expectations: Jeffrey was the perfect gentleman because he showed much respect and consideration towards others..
3. Concerning something which is an accurate reproduction: Shelby painted a perfect copy of the photograph of her grandmother.
perfect (PUR fikt) (noun)
A verb form that indicates action completed in the past before another past action: The use of a verb in the past perfect is exemplified in the following sentence: Shirley had completed her homework before she went home.
perfect (PUR fikt) (verb)
To improve or to refine: Lenora tried to perfect her technique with constant practice.
prefect (PREE fekt") (noun)
1. A student in charge of monitoring other students, typically in a private educational institution: Dennis wanted to be the senior prefect in his class when he went back to school in September.
2. A high ranking officer or magistrate: Eric wore the mantle of a prefect in the city council.

When Roger was appointed prefect of his class, he was determined to be the perfect prefect; just like in the film, Goodbye Mr. Chips.

perpetrate, perpetuate
perpetrate (PUR pi trayt") (verb)
To bring about, to commit a crime, to impose a hoax: The police will try to find out who could perpetrate such an offence in the quiet neighborhood.
perpetuate (puhr PECH oo ayt") (verb)
To cause to last a long time or indefinitely; to preserve from oblivion: By writing a biography, William tried to perpetuate the memory of his parents and their ordeals as pioneers living in the desert.

Unless the criminal is caught, he or she will continue to perpetrate more crimes which tend to perpetuate more fear in the community.

perpetual, perpetuity
perpetual (puhr PECH yoo uhl) (adjective)
1. Lasting forever, eternal; serving in a position or office for an indefinite time: The movie had a perpetual sense about it and Ray thought it would never come to an end.

The beloved leader was elected to serve a perpetual term in office.

2. Continuous, blooming through every season: The roses in the sheltered corner of the garden were in perpetual bloom.
perpetuity (puhr" pi TOO i tee, puhr" pi TYOO i tee) (noun)
1. The quality or state of lasting forever; an unlimited time; eternity: The monument was to ensure the memory of the heroes would last in perpetuity.
2. Payment of an annuity on an ongoing basis: The grandfather’s will stipulates that the annuity be paid to Stacie's aunt in perpetuity.

Josie planted a special rose bush which was described as perpetual; that is, blooming every season. This rose bush was a memorial in perpetuity to her friend's valor during the flood crisis.

perplex, puzzle, puzzle
perplex (puhr PLEKS) (verb)
1. To be unable to think clearly or decisively about something; to baffle: It will perplex Justin all evening if he is unable to resolve the mystery.
2. To make something intricate or complicated; to confuse: Keith's explanation of the map only served to perplex Brittney further.
puzzle (PUHZ uhl) (verb)
1. To present a mental challenge or to offer a situation that is difficult to solve: Arthur tried to puzzle Henry with the complicated mathematical equations.
2. To resolve a question or situation with ingenuity: Lucinda was able to puzzle her way out of the challenging word quiz.
puzzle (PUHZ uhl) (noun)
A challenging game designed to amuse while requiring ingenuity to resolve or to complete: On rainy days, Bonita enjoyed working on the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of 50 different cats.

The riddle, presented as a puzzle, continued to perplex Melba because she could not figure out the answer.

perquisite, prerequisite, requisite
perquisite (PUR kwi zit) (noun)
A payment or profit received in addition to a regular wage or salary; especially, a benefit expected as being deserved; a "perk": Use of the company's jet is a perquisite of the job.
prerequisite (pree REK wi zit) (noun)
Something which is required or necessary as a prior condition: Competence is a prerequisite to promotion to the next level of administration.
requisite (REK wi zit) (noun)
Something that is required, essential, or indispensable; a necessity: It is a requisite that people carry water with them when they hike into the desert.

As a result of Jerry's lack of experience, he thought that the car supplied by his employer was a requisite, in fact a perquisite; however, when he read the details of his contract again, he realized that owning a car was a prerequisite to getting the job. He says that he never was very good at spelling.

persecute, prosecute
persecute (PUR si kyoot") (verb)
1. To constantly annoy, to harass, to afflict, or to bother someone: The paparazzi were apparently determined to persecute the famous actress by following her everywhere.
2. To treat someone cruelly or unfairly; especially, because of race or religious or political beliefs: The regime was known to constantly persecute those who fought against it during the uprising.
3. To harass in such a manner as to injure or to afflict: In the ancient city, the soldiers would often persecute people who were identified as foreigners.
prosecute (PRAHS i kyoot") (verb)
1. To initiate legal action as the result of a crime: The police decided to prosecute the vandals who ruined the monument with graffiti.
2. To follow through with something until it is finished: The attorney general is determined to prosecute those who committed the fraud until justice is achieved.

Karin was determined to have the law officials prosecute her annoying neighbor who continues to persecute her with rude remarks and lewd comments.

persecution, prosecution
persecution (pur" si KYOO shuhn) (noun)
1. The plight or predicament of being harassed or annoyed: Latonya had no tolerance for the persecution by the press of her new book when it was published.
2. The practice of harassing individuals in such a manner as to injure or to cause harm: Persecution of someone in jest, or even as a joke, may be unlawful and immoral.
prosecution (PRAHS i kyoo" shuhn) (noun)
1. An individual or party which initiates a legal action in a criminal situation: Craig's uncle is a lawyer and participates in the prosecution of high profile criminal cases.
2. The action of following through with a legal action until a final resolution has been accomplished: The prosecution of the case was expected to take at least two years before the judge would give a final judgment.

Jane, the witness for the prosecution, complained that she felt that she was in a state of persecution by the investigators who were trying to obtain her testimony.

personal, personnel
personal (PUR suh nuhl) (adjective)
1. Describing an action or a measure taken by an individual without intervention by another: It was Trudy's personal decision to try to swim the English Channel.
2. Relating to one's body; private: Jenifer's mother taught her good personal hygiene.
3. Relating to an individual's conduct, often in a negative context: It felt like a personal insult when Ingrid left the party early without an explanation.
personnel (pur" suh NEL) (noun)
1. A group of individuals or staff who are employed or engaged in some activity: The list of personnel was posted in the lunch room at Dale's office.
2. A department or part of an organization which is concerned with employees: The senior staff member from personnel is interviewing candidates for the new position that is available.

The representative from personnel at the agency to which he applied for a summer job asked for his personal information; including, telephone number, address, etc.

perspective, prospective, prospectus
perspective (puhr SPEK tiv) (noun)
1. The technique for representing an object seen by the eyes on a flat or curved surface: Janette presented an excellent perspective in her still-life drawings.
2. A way or manner of thinking about and understanding a situation or subject: The worried student took a long walk, after which his problems seemed to have taken on a new and more manageable perspective.
3. The process of being able to see or understand a situation in its true or relative importance: With the new perspective on the state of affairs, the committee was able to make sound recommendations.
4. A view which gives the impression of distance: The perspective from the hill was lovely but Stanley was glad the walk back to the village was short.
5. The appearance to the beholder of objects with respect to their relative positions and distance: By standing across the room, the artist was able to get a better perspective of the large painting she was working on.
prospective (pruh SPEK tiv) (adjective)
1. Descriptive of a situation that is likely to happen or to come about: Corinne was a prospective mother and the baby was due in two months.
2. Relating to the future: Alan wrote a long novel in the hope of getting a prospective bonus from the publisher.
prospectus (pruh SPEK tuhs) (noun)
1. A printed statement that summarizes or describes a business and is for distribution to potential investors: Fern received the prospectus about the mining company and an invitation to attend their annual meeting.
2. A statement outlining the main features of a new work or business enterprise or an established institution: such as, a college, hotel, business, etc.: The prospectus from the bank suggested that high interest rates were a thing of the past and that loans would be more difficult to arrange.

The prospective new illustrator for the firm sent in a detailed portfolio. It was easy to evaluate Shawn's application because he had an excellent artistic perspective as shown in his drawings.

Once the firm hired Luis, he applied to the bank for a loan, submitting a well prepared prospectus detailing how the loan was to be used.

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