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Feb 19 2013   12:50PM GMT

The difference between “aw” and “awe”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

I liked the photo of my friend’s new puppy and commented “____, what a cutie! But why did you name him Puddles?”
a. Aw
b. Awe


Answer: a.

Explanation:
“Aw” is an interjection, like “oh,” “eh,” “huh” and “wow.” On the web, the word is often misspelled as “awe.” “Awe,” on the other hand is a noun, roughly synonymous with “wonder” or “amazement,” as in the phrase “shock and awe.” It’s occasionally used as a verb, in which case to awe is the same as to wow. But the interjection “aw” is separate. It’s used to express a wide range of emotion, including sympathy and disappointment as well as heart pangs caused by the cuteness of a puppy.

As I was saying just the other day, I think errors proliferate online because there are so many people writing that don’t read and so don’t see how words are spelled. Until, of course, they see a friend (mis)spell them on Facebook or Twitter and adopt that (mis)spelling.

See also: Srsly — do U loveee it or do U looove it?

Paul Brians includes awe, shucks in his Common Errors in English Usage.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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