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If you’re learning to speak English or working to improve your American English accent this video is just for you! We’ll break down some of the most confusingly similar words in the English language and make sure you feel totally comfortable using each of them correctly.
An enemy, anemone. What? Okay, these English words are confusing. Stick with me, we’re going to improve your pronunciation and learn some new words.
Today we’re going over words that are confusingly similar in English. This video is dedicated to my English language learners but everyone is welcome.
Yesterday, I was reading a book with my son. It was this book and in it, we were reading about sea creatures specifically this sea creature. And I read “The sea anemone looks like a flower.” He stopped me and said, “An enemy?”
You see, and anemone and an enemy are very similar. Just one switch sound. An enemy is bad, someone who’s hostile. Opposed to someone or something. So my son was kind of concerned that enemies were in this book. I hope in your life you only have friends and allies, no enemies.
Anemone on the other hand is this thing. And I got to see some once of the coast of Oregon. This is my husband. I’m behind the camera.
Hey! He grabbed me a little bit.
He thought I was food.
Let’s make a little tongue twister. An enemy, anemone. An enemy, anemone. An enemy, anemone. An enemy, anemone. An enemy, anemone. Slow it down if you need to but this will be a great way to practice relaxation with the N sound. See, N is made just with the front part of the tongue. N. And some of my students use the back of their tongue which makes it sound more like and NG. Ng, ng. They put tension there. We want the back relaxed, the tongue nice and wide, n, nananana. Anemone, an enemy, anemone. Okay. Moving on.
Now this one, my niece messed up in a job interview. He was pretty embarrassed. I asked her about it.
Emily, tell me about your job interview.
I was in a job interview and they asked me, “When you encounter a problem that you can’t fix, what do you do?” And I said, “Sometimes you just need to twerk it until you find a solution.”
And you meant
And I meant sometimes you just need to tweak it until you find a solution.
And they looked at me like “What is she talking about?”
So did you not feel totally solid on either of those words or you did and just was like oops, it just happened?
I knew I shouldn’t say tweak, I knew I shouldn’t say twerk but tweak and twerk got confused in my brain.
I knew that twerk was wrong but it just came out and I mixed them up at that moment under the stress.
Did they say anything?
They sort of looked at each other but, sort of, just kept on going and ignored it.
Did you get the job?
I did get a job offer but I said no to it.
Okay. So even though you said twerk it in the job interview you still got the job?
I still got the job.
Tweak versus twerk. Tweak means to improve something by making an adjustment to it. For example, if I’m in my studio trying to get a shot and the lighting isn’t quite right, I might say, “We need to tweak the lighting.” Make minor adjustments. Turn this one up, move this one a little bit. It’s not a major change. Just a little something. A tweak!
Twerk on the other hand is a dance that involves jiggling your butt. I’m going to put a link right here to a video that has a lot of good examples of twerking. It’s explicit and you will see a lot of butts in it. Behind, rear-ends. But you can see why you wouldn’t want to talk about twerking something in a job interview.
Hopefully, they understood what my niece meant when she said twerk understood that she meant tweak. Make a little change. Nothing to do with your behind. By the way, if you ever mixed up a word or you find two words really confusing, put them in the comments below.
Have you ever wondered about the difference between wonder and wander? Wonder with an o has the uh as in butter vowel. Wonder, wonder. It means to think. To speculate, to be curious. Hmm, I wonder what David is going to make for dinner. To wander means to go aimlessly, casually. We wandered around the farmer’s market for a while. It can also be something you do with your mind. Rachel, are you paying attention? Sorry, I let my thoughts wander. This means I let my thoughts aimlessly take their own path. My mind wandered. I wasn’t focused. If I wonder what David is making for dinner, I might wander downstairs to see what he’s cooking. I’m going to wander down. I’m not going to rush down. If I see one of the boys playing in their room or the living room, I might stop and play a while. Remember, wandering is to go somewhere without rushing, without great purpose. I want to see what David is cooking but I’m open to being distracted along the way. Wander spelled with an A, the ah as in father vowel. Wander, wonder.
Some example sentences with wander and wonder.
I wonder if she saw my email.
It’s now wonder you’re hungry. You haven’t eaten all day.
Do you have any plans today? No, I’m just going to wander and explore the town.
I wonder if you can pass this 5-question quiz. It’s a lot easier than the quiz that’s coming later in this video. I’m going to play some clips. Tell me based on the pronunciation and the context if you’re hearing wonder or wander.
Do you w*nder what your opponent might be wearing? Do you speculate about it? Think about it? Are you curious about it? That’s wonder with an O.
Ed Kock used to w*nder around New York City.
Now, that’s a clue. If the next word is around, this is probably going to be wander with an A. Walk around without a clear direction.
Which made me w*nder, how often do I really rest at home?
Made me w*nder. Made me think about this.
Wonder with an O.
Visitors can w*nder through the centuries-old temples.
W*nder through. Walk through slowly, experience, move about casually, not rushing.
Wander with an a.
Relax and let your mind w*nder gives your subconscious mind time to take up ideas.
Mind. But we’re not talking about thinking. We’re talking about letting your mind move without direction or objective. Just letting your mind w*nder.
That’s wander with an a.
Okay, this next one, I messed up recently in writing. Oops.
I mixed up imminent and eminent.
And there’s also immanent pronounced just like imminent but with a different spelling and a totally different meaning. How cruel is that? Pronounced the same, spelled differently, totally different meanings.
First, let’s talk about the first two.
Imminent with the letter I. Starts with an ih as in sit vowel. Ih, imminent. And everything else about the pronunciation is the same as eminent with an e. Imminent means lightly to occur at any moment.
I haven’t gotten the Covid vaccine yet, but Philly has opened it up to anybody, so it’s imminent.
I think I’ll be getting my phone call saying it’s my turn any day now.
We haven’t quite finished the project yet but the delivery is imminent. It’s almost done. Imminent. About to happen.
Eminent with an e, totally different meaning. We have the e as in bed vowel. Eminent. It means distinguished, prominent, high in station, in other words, important.
She’s an eminent local artist. People around town know her. Know her work. She’s important and respected.
Okay now, Immanent. Spelled differently than our first word but pronounced the same. I admit, the first two words I’ve used. This one, I’ve never used. It’s pretty advanced vocabulary. It means inherent. Existing within something. Respect is immanent in my marriage. Respect lives within that relationship. This is a sentence I got online.
The protection of liberties is imminent in constitutional arrangements. Protection of liberties. Rights exist within the constitution.
Okay, this quiz is going to be a lot harder than the wander, wonder quiz.
I feel very honored to be with _______ panelists to talk about South Korea.
An ________ panelists will be discussing about South Korea.
If it’s a person, it can’t be this imminent, that means about to happen. That doesn’t really work with people. But this person is someone respected and known for his or her knowledge of South Korea.
Eminent with an e.
You can’t separate _________ and transcendent nor you cannot separate mundane and divine.
Okay, this is the third word immanent and its most common use is like this. Related to religion and philosophy. You can’t separate something that lives within something else.
And instead of the _________ destruction of the planet, it’s a gradual warming over decades.
Comparing ___________ destruction, something’s that about to happen with something that will happen slowly over time.
This is our first word. Imminent.
Two more questions.
Pre-emptive meaning that you see that an attack is in the works. It’s __________ it’s mobilized and you try to strike before your enemy will strike you.
If something is in the works, it means it’s a process that started. The first steps of the process is already done. Therefore, the attack is imminent. It’s about to happen. This is our first word again.
Robert Cialdini, a great _________ researcher from Arizona state University.
Describing a person here. Important in his field of study. This one is our second word, eminent with an e. Let’s go over our three pronunciations again.
Imminent, eminent, immanent. Say them with me now.
Preeminent is word related to our second word. It means surpassing all others very distinguished in some way.
He is the preeminent demographer for Florida.
No one in the world knows more about the population of Florida than he does.
Okay. I wonder if your mind wandered in that last quiz. If something is hard to understand or you find it boring, we sometimes tune out, stop listening and let our minds wonder.
If your pronunciation of these words isn’t perfect, just twerk them. Wait, just tweak them. These words are confusing. What word pairs confuse you? Put them in the comments and keep your learning going right now with this great video. I make new videos in the English language every Tuesday and I’d love to have you back. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the notification bell. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.