Two words that seem to get commonly mixed up are wary and weary. These two words have very different meanings and so are not interchangeable, but it doesn’t stop people from doing it. Most often, people use weary when they mean wary. Here are some annoying sentences that have insulted my ears recently:
I’m quite weary of their dog, it looks really aggressive.
Since I got knocked off my bike, I’m weary of the roads around here.
I’d be weary of her if I were you, she’s got a nasty temper.
Perhaps I’ve got this wrong though. Perhaps there is a new atmosphere of extreme apathy pervading us all and things we used to find scary are now merely tiresome. What trouble we’d all get into if we really were weary of being wary and it’s always foolish not to be wary of feeling weary, especially when driving your car.
I always remember the song, Bridge over troubled waters
When you’re weary feeling small, when tears are in your eyes
It helps get the meaning straight
Those who study English as a foreign language often underestimate the importance of pronunciation. As an EFL teacher I always try to allot enough time to improving the students’ pronunciation. However, vowels in word pairs such as weary – wary, wear – were, sheep – ship, pan – pen constantly present difficulties. Well, I’m not going to give up anyway!
It may help to remember that “weary” comes from “wear” as in “worn-out”, whose meaning is similar.
I couldn’t agree more with the previous colleague! For foreign students studying English as a foreign language such words do often present difficulties!
I notice this all the time – and am really not sure how anyone (save those learning English, who can get as much wrong as they’d like) could get the two mixed up…