Summer Reading III


Remaining in vacation mode, let’s look at a few more word pairs and a chance to ace another quick quiz. Make your choices.

1. If no one is adverse/averse to extending the meeting, let’s tackle one more item.
2. My grandfather helped nine members of his family emigrate/immigrate to America.
3. Laurie lead/led her team to victory in the final two games of the playoffs.
4. I spotted my cousins cheering with hoi polloi in the left field bleachers/hoi polloi in box seats behind home plate.

The answers

1. Maybe this one’s too tough for summertime. It’s challenging because adverse and averse are both adjectives conveying opposition, but adverse always refers to things (adverse weather, adverse reaction) while averse always applies to people’s attitudes (averse to driving there alone) – and we always see it followed by “to.” So the right choice in #1 is averse.

2. When we immigrate, we come into a country. When we emigrate, we leave. So the answer to #2 is immigrate. An easy way to remember the distinction is that immigrating is the act of coming in; when we emigrate, we exit.

3. The past tense of the verb lead, of course, is led, but this error crops up surprisingly frequently – perhaps because led and the metal, lead, are pronounced the same way. So it’s Laurie led.

4. Hoi polloi may sound as if it refers to the upper crust (or those who think they are) because it reminds us of hoity-toity, but hoi polloi is Greek for the many, or the masses. So hoi polloi are more likely to sit in the bleachers.

Note also that because hoi polloi means the many, we don’t need the in front of hoi polloi, although using the is not considered a serious error. Relax.

In addition to presenting workshops on writing in the workplace, Norm Friedman is a writer, editor, and writing coach. His 100+ Instant Writing Tips is a brief “non-textbook” to help individuals overcome common writing errors and write with more finesse and impact. Learn more at

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