In Redesigned SAT grammar, you’ll sometimes see a question type that asks you to differentiate between two words that look and/or sound very similar, but that mean something very different. Today, we have a trio of such pairs.
Elicit and Illicit
One of these illegal. Now I don’t mean as in jaywalking illegal, but as in it means “illegal”. That honor would go to “illicit”. To remember this think of the first three letters “ill-“; it’s the same as the first three letter in illegal.
Elicit means to draw forth, usually a response.
She hoped to elicit a response from her brother who always acted to cool for her. But after saying the building was on fire, she could elicit nothing more than a “what evs.”
Imitated and Intimated
The first means to copy someone, a definition most are familiar with. The second word, however, is a definition that is not very common, but that might be tested on the SAT. To intimate is to suggest or imply something. That is, to not say something directly.
Her boyfriend hadn’t showered in a week, but Sally didn’t want to offend him. Instead, she kept intimating that he needed a bath, sending him links to soap bar ads.
Could of and Could have and Could’ve
Here is a troublesome trio, unless you remember a simple fact: “Could of” is not a word. Could’ve is a contraction, or a shortening, of could’ve. Notice the “-ve”. That is the shortened form of “have”. So if you miss spotting this error on the test, don’t say “I could’ve known that had I remembered this post better.”