Save to be safe

This pair – save and safe – belongs to the small club of words that have me confused and stumped after 13 years in this country.  What is interesting about this confusing couple is that they don’t create problems in spoken language, it’s when writing that the confusion sets in.

A safe is a safe place for the money you saved. pic: http://www.squidoo.com

Both words have distinct meanings and therefore really shouldn’t be confusing.  So here we go:

Save is a verb which means

to set aside, to keep, to collect, accumulate       and also

to rescue, recover

Examples:

“I am saving my money so I can buy a house.”

“He saved my life when he jumped after me and pulled me out of that river.”

Save can also be used as a preposition meaning except, but.  But now I am adding to the confusion.

Safe, on the other hand is an adjective and means:

protected, secure     and also

harmless, not dangerous

“We moved to a safer neighborhood after several burglaries were reported in our old one.”

“Chess is a very safe activity, American football not so much.”

A safe, of course, is also a place to keep the money one saved safe.

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