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Things that are democratic are ruled by the people, for the people. A basic democratic process involves letting everyone vote on what they think is best for the whole group.

Democratic government started thousands of years ago in ancient Greece, but it's still catching on all over the world. A dictatorship or monarchy is ruled by one person, but in a democratic society, or a democracy, the people rule. Even though there is a leader — a President in the United States — he or she is elected by the people. Anything that allows people more say in the government is democratic.

Choose your words

Caught between words? Learn how to make the right choice.

compose/ comprise

Compose is to make up a whole, and comprise is to contain parts. Poodles compose the dog class because the class comprises poodles. The parts compose the whole, and the whole comprises the parts. Confused? Everybody else is!

lose/ loose

Lose sounds like snooze. If you lose something, you don’t have it anymore. Add an “o” and loose rhymes with goose and describes something that’s not attached.

connote/ denote

Don’t let the rhyme fool you — to connote is to imply a meaning or condition, and to denote is to define exactly. Connote is like giving a hint, but to denote is to refer to something outright.

that/ which

The words that and which point to something — which one? That one! Before a clause or phrase, a that clause goes with the flow, but a which clause starts with a pause. American English makes a big deal out of the distinction but British English doesn't, which may be why it's so dang confusing. read more...

prophecy/ prophesy

One letter separates prophecy from prophesy, and the close relationship is derived from a shared word history. read more...

than/ then

Than compares things, but then is all about time. They sound similar and were even spelled the same until the 1700s. Not anymore! Vive la difference! read more...

See all Choose Your Words articles »
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