Which word is right?
1. If you situate a house near water, do you locate it there, too?
2. Which is the longer, more formal exposition of a book - a preface, a foreword, or an introduction?
3. If you were to acquire new carpeting, lights, etc., for your home, would you be refurbishing or refurnishing it?
4. If a scene relaxes you, is it restful or restive?
5. What is the pointed structure atop a church or tower - a spire or a steeple?
6. Would you want to be in a good place or a good position to see a parade?
Nancy M. Kendall
(1) Yes. In placing a house, 'to situate' or 'to locate' are both appropriate. If you are trying to find a house, however, only 'locate' will do. 'I tried to locate the house but I could not find it.' If you were trying to situate a house, you'd know exactly where it was.
(2) An introduction prepares a reader for the book's main subject and provides information essential to understanding it. It is longer than a preface or a foreword, which are usually brief. They explain the purpose of the book and any obligations the author wishes to acknowledge. A preface is written by the author or an editor. A foreword is written by someone other than the author. A book can have a preface or a foreword, but not both.
(3) To 'refurnish' means to provide new furnishings, like lamps and couches, etc. 'Refurbish' means to brighten or clean up. One might 'refurbish' a neighborhood with a clean-up day or 'refurbish' a room with fresh paint and some repairs.
(4) 'Restful' means an atmosphere that allows a person to relax and feel at ease. 'Restive' means nervous and fidgety, as in a restive horse that refuses to go. Not at all relaxing.
(5) A spire. This tall, acutely pointed structure forms the top of a steeple. Steeples often house bells or a clock.
(6) It's more accurate to say 'position.' 'Place' is a general term for location; 'position' is a place with respect to another place or within a frame of reference. In this case, it's the area near the parade.
SOURCES: The Dictionary of Confusable Words, by Laurence Urdang; The World Book Dictionary; Webster's New World College Dictionary; The Random House Dictionary.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society