Seperate or Separate – Grammar Tips

When I met my husband, we were in college, and he was a better dancer, funnier, and friendlier than I. So one of the things I had to fall back on was my brains. I liked to say that I was smarter than him, and that worked for a while, until the day I misspelled this word…

The correct spelling is: SEPARATE

The common misspelling is: SEPERATE

Here are definitions:

adjective
forming or viewed as a unit apart or by itself : this raises two separate issues | he regards the study of literature as quite separate from life.
• not joined or touching physically : hostels with separate quarters for men and women.
• different; distinct : melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls.

verb
1 [ trans. ] cause to move or be apart : police were trying to separate two rioting mobs | they were separated by the war.
• form a distinction or boundary between (people, places, or things) : only a footpath separated their garden from the shore | six years separated the two brothers.
• [ intrans. ] become detached or disconnected : the second stage of the rocket failed to separate.
• [ intrans. ] leave another person’s company : they separated at the corner, agreeing to meet within two hours.
• [ intrans. ] stop living together as a couple : after her parents separated, she was brought up by her mother | [as adj. ] ( separated) her parents are separated.
• (often be separated) discharge or dismiss (someone) from service or employment : this year one million veterans will be separated from the service.
2 divide or cause to divide into constituent or distinct elements : [ intrans. ] the milk had separated into curds and whey | [ trans. ] separate the eggs and beat the yolks.
• [ trans. ] extract or remove for use or rejection : the skins are separated from the juice before fermentation | figurative we need to separate fact from speculation.
• [ trans. ] distinguish between; consider individually : we cannot separate his thinking from his activity.
• (of a factor or quality) distinguish (someone or something) from others : his position separates him from those who might share his interests.
• [ trans. ] ( separate something off) make something form, or view something as, a unit apart or by itself : the organ loft separating off the choir.

noun | ( separates)
things forming units by themselves, in particular
• individual items of clothing, such as skirts, jackets, or pants, suitable for wearing in different combinations.
• the self-contained, freestanding components of a sound-reproduction system.
• portions into which a soil, sediment, etc., can be sorted according to particle size, mineral composition, or other criteria.

PHRASES
go one’s separate ways leave in a different direction from someone with whom one has just traveled or spent time. • end a romantic, professional, or other relationship.
separate but equal historical racially segregated but ostensibly ensuring equal opportunities to all races.
separate the men from the boys see man .
separate the sheep from the goats divide people or things into superior and inferior groups. [ORIGIN: with biblical allusion to Matt. 25:33.]
separate the wheat from the chaff see chaff 1 .

DERIVATIVES
separately | adverb
separateness | noun
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin separat- ‘disjoined, divided,’ from the verb separare, from se- ‘apart’ + parare ‘prepare.’

*Source from Wikitionary

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Comments

  1. TheMarshal says

    Then why do we pronounce the verb and the adjective differently if they are not spelled differently?
    We say the verb as “we had to SEP’-A’-RATE’ the two boys that were fighting”, but we do not say in using the adjective “we had to put them in SEP’-A’-RATE’ rooms”, we say “SEP’-ER-AT rooms”

    • says

      You’re preaching to the choir TheMarshal! I hear ya’! A lot of English word spellings and grammar rules don’t make a lot of sense based on how we use or pronounce the words. All I can imagine is that at one point in history, the pronunciation was always SEP’-A’-RATE’ and it evolved over time or at one point in history we did not use separate as an adjective. All I know is that sometimes when I am writing quickly, I may write things the way I pronounce them and this is a word I continue to spell wrong after God knows how many years of advanced English!!! Thanks for your comments:-)

  2. TheMarshal says

    Then why do we pronounce the verb and the adjective differently if they are not spelled differently?
    We say the verb as “we had to SEP’-A’-RATE’ the two boys that were fighting”, but we do not say in using the adjective “we had to put them in SEP’-A’-RATE’ rooms”, we say “SEP’-ER-AT rooms”

    • says

      You’re preaching to the choir TheMarshal! I hear ya’! A lot of English word spellings and grammar rules don’t make a lot of sense based on how we use or pronounce the words. All I can imagine is that at one point in history, the pronunciation was always SEP’-A’-RATE’ and it evolved over time or at one point in history we did not use separate as an adjective. All I know is that sometimes when I am writing quickly, I may write things the way I pronounce them and this is a word I continue to spell wrong after God knows how many years of advanced English!!! Thanks for your comments:-)

  3. Shirley says

    This is a “modern” thing! When I went to school (1950s) the verb was “to SEPARATE “. The adverb was SEPERATELY and the adjective was SEPERATE (as per The Marshal's comment). That's what I was taught, which was at a time when English was still being taught correctly.

  4. Gerhard says

    Lisa, you give advice on SEPERATE and SEPARATE. Then you mention your husband in the article saying…..”…..and he was a better dancer, funnier, and friendlier than me.
    That sentence should read: …….and friendlier than I. The word “me” is either a direct or indirect object pronoun.
    He is was a better dancer than I (was).
    He was funnier than I (was).

    • says

      LOL! You are so right Gerhard. I never said I was a grammar queen:) I just like to point out the things that I often get wrong in my writing – looks like I have another post to write about! Thanks for the heads up.

  5. DeZwarteMaan says

    There is a misuse of verbage, that is dreadfully wrong in society. People become apt to misuse words, they become lazy, and/or uneducated. Thus, they tend to drift because they are blazingly lazy.
    Serparate vs Seperate= History is made on the language which superseded, and the derivation of words has morphed words to fill in the blanks that some words were used to umbrella the whole concept. Greek, Latin, Old English… They all had words which of themselves could cover a dozen concepts in 1 word. This is confusing to those who live in the future(from that time-period), because the definitions are often strained and ambiguous. Look at the Bible and the arguments about the ancient words used, and the flexible nature of the words… causing such confusion?

    Etymology of a word, often gives a new prospective on a use of a Term.

    Lack of stict education, and laziness leads to the misuse of derived words. Changing a word to sound better… NO! Try pronouncing the word properly. When words are derived from an ancient source and travel thru a different country, the words absorb into their language. So while Old English and Middle English might have similar words that derived from a similar root word, they were spoken differently. Then English absorbed the words differently. You can see this in the difference between British English vs American English. British often take their derived words from Old English. Not the same for American English which has absorbed words from MANY cultures. Thus we pronounce words in Germanic, Spanish or other cultural ways. Look at the word Route and Router.

    Route: A road or travel path.

    Some pronounce this as “Root” as in the song “Route 66″ (Root 66).

    The proper derived pronunciation is “R-ow-t” as in ‘Trade Route’.

    A IT guy uses a ‘Router’ to network computers. (R-ow-ter)

    Which is correct? Commonly English says that -ou is an ‘ow’ sound, correct? But English Route is taken from the middle-english (Germanic) word Route. Middle English pronounces -ou the same way.. the -u sound as in my Grandpa’s last name ‘Lutringer’ is pronounced L-oo-t-ringer.
    Now let’s look at the Merriam websters dictionary. They say that Route is pronounced with a ü, which is the same lettering in my Grandpa’s name?!? What is this? Route is a oo sound. R-oo-te? Ahh the derivation of this word comes from the Vulgar Latin word ‘Rupta’, Thus presenting why the British and Americans pronounce Route differently and how words similar to this dual derived word can confused the utter nonsense out of anyone learning the English language. Multiple root languages blended, makes it harder to learn.

    Back to Separate.
    Has anyone seen “Bill and ted’s excellent adventure”? Did you pay attention to Socrates when he said his name? We commonly say “Sock-ra-tees” when we pronounce it. Socrates kept fixing the boys pronunciation to “So-Kra-Tees”.
    But what does this have to do with Separate?
    It derives from the Latin ‘separatus’ past participle of ‘separare’. Think Socrates… “Se-Puh-raht”. Anyone remember their “Schwa” E’s in school?
    Separate: ?se-p(?-)?r?t
    Thus the confusion from ESL’s as they flounder on the strange symbol and think a Schwa ?- just sounds wrong as an A, but in fact… it is an ‘a’.
    Separate is mispronounced “Se-peh-raht”, leading people to forget how to spell it, as the educators who taught them ‘FAILED’ miserably to teach elocution and proper verbal usage.
    After reading this, I hope you glimmered something about a language. It is true that if education slips and we allow the youth to ‘typo’ their way into the future, the English language is bound to drift into ‘L33t’ speak or we allow ‘text’ ghetto spelling to become common redefined spellings for words that used to have a proper derivation. If you change a words spelling, it loses its connection to the word that spawned it.

    se-p(?-)?r?t
    Say-Puh-Raht

    PS. No I am NOT an English Major. I just paid attention in school. 😛 So Trolls, who are trying to make themselves feel better by pointing out minor grammatical errors in internet blogs… bugger off. :)

    To Lisa: English makes ALL the sense in the world. If you investigate the whom, what and where a word came from. Read the root words and understand the influennce of the cultures it passed thru.

    Separate is a pretty straight forward word. It’s the Schwa E that confuses the issue. People forget that it’s an -uh sound and not an -eh sound. Therefore Sep-eh-rate or Seperate it’s a mispronounced word. Used with the Schwa E and enunciated correctly, the word is spells and sounds as it appears and makes much more sense from a root word perspective.

    To TheMarshal: We do NOT pronunciate the verb and the adjectives differently.
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/separate
    Look at the descriptions:
    sep·a·rate verb \?se-p(?-)?r?t\
    sep·a·rate adj \?se-p(?-)r?t\
    sep·a·rate noun \?se-p(?-)r?t\

    It’s social laziness and geographic inflection that has people sounding the words differently. Why? because they just don’t care? Perhaps bad teachers? Ignorance? Shrug.

    Knowing is Half the Battle! … and now you know! :)

  6. DeZwarteMaan says

    LOL… uhm… guessing this blogs hostsite doesnt have the unicode fonts for the funny characters used by the language. Hrm… Go to the Merriam Webster dictionary site to see the charcaters that didnt post. :)

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