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Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

For this Grammar Rules post, we look at two disparate words that sound desperately similar when spoken aloud. While both are adjectives, they have disparate definitions for people desperate for the best word for their unique situation.

(Common Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them.)

So let's look at the differences between desperate and disparate and when to use each.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate

Desperate is an adjective that can take on a few different meanings. First, it can mean giving up hope or the possibility of hope. Second, it can describe an action taken in response to this despair. Third, it can describe extreme suffering, need, or danger.

(Developing a Unique Writing Voice.)

Disparate, on the other hand, is an adjective that describes someone or something made up of fundamentally different elements or to point out someone or something that is unique in quality or character.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples of desperate and disparate:

Correct: The fire made him desperate enough to jump despite his fear of heights.
Incorrect: The fire made him disparate enough to jump despite his fear of heights.

Correct: The team's poor performance may be due to the disparate compensation between the older members and the younger.
Incorrect: The team's poor performance may be due to the desperate compensation between the older members and the younger.

For remembering when to use each of these words, here's what I do: I think of the first "e" in "desperate" and pair it up with the Es in the words "fear," "despair," and "anxiety." Meanwhile, the first "i" in "disparate" makes me think of the solitary I (as in me, myself, and I), which is unique or different.

In the meantime, just remember that a desperate person could do anything while a disparate person is unlike the others. And yes, it's possible that a disparate person begins to feel like a desperate person.

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Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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