Are You Likely or Apt to Read This?

Here are four words that are often confused: apt, likely, prone, liable. Their differences are a bit subtle, but they do mean different things, so you might want to write these in your notebook for future reference.

Apt: Means one is habitually inclined: A frog is apt to gobble up a fly if it gets too close.

Likely: Means one is inclined or tending toward something: She is likely to win (implying the odds are with her).

Prone: Means one is inclined but usually implies undesirable results:  He’s prone to tripping.

Liable: Means one is likely to suffer (always undesirable consequences): She’s liable to have accidents (implies probability).

These words have no bearing on other meaning of these words, such as a likely story, he’s lying prone, she’s an apt pupil, not liable for the accident (legally responsible). Being a copyeditor, I’m apt to look for misuse of these words! And I’m likely to find some!

5 Responses to “Are You Likely or Apt to Read This?”

  1. Bridget McKenna October 5, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Thanks for this helpful guide to words that might trip up even an experienced writer.

  2. Miranda October 5, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Thanks for this Susanne! I’ll have to admit I’ve made these mistakes myself.

  3. Diane Stephenson October 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m not a copy editor but I am apt to look for these types of things too. Thanks for the clarification on these words.

  4. Teresa Travis October 18, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    How may I receive your newsletter?- how often do you put them out?
    I enjoy the content of your edifying newletter. It was forwarded to me by another writer who found it and shared it with our group. Do you ever comment on poetry?
    Teresa Travis

    • cslakin October 18, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Teresa, you can either subscribe to the posts by typing in your e-mail address in the box on the home page on the top right. Or you can click on the RSS feed to receive it that way. I don’t specifically discuss poetry, but many of the writing techniques mentioned on the blog can be applied to poetry construction.

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