Friday, January 9, 2015

Get It Right: Cents, Scents, and Sense

A little less than a month ago, we looked into the correct usage of the English words "right", "rite", and "write". Today we're back with yet another group of homophones that continually confuse English speakers due to their varying spellings. Hopefully it will help you to never mix them up again.

Cents

There's really no excuse not to write this word correctly given its frequent usage in the English language. A cent is a monetary unit used in many countries. One hundred cents equal one dollar or one euro, which is appropriate since the term comes from the Latin word centum, meaning "hundred".

Daffodils have a lovely scent.
Scents

Scent is another noun for smell, and is generally associated with nice smells. You often hear the term scents used within descriptions of expensive perfumes and colognes. It comes from the Latin verb sentire, which means "to smell or perceive".

Sense

Finally, there's sense, which is used as both a noun and a verb. It originates from the Latin verb sentire as well. As children, we often learn about the five senses, which are ways the human body perceives stimuli: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. As a noun it can also refer to a feeling or an awareness of something, as well as having a reasonable rationale for things. For example, people can show good sense, or have a sense of humor. As a verb, sense refers to the perception of something using your senses, as in "they sensed a change in the weather". It can also be used to show that you're aware of something without knowing how you're aware of it, as in "he could sense that they didn't like him". 

Are there other English spelling or grammar mistakes that drive you crazy? Let us know in the comments below and you might see it addressed in a future post!