Commonly Confused Words: Shore vs. Sure

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What does each word mean?

The shore is the land that runs along the edge of a body of water. 

Here is shore used in some example sentences:

  • We walked along the shore until we reached the pier. 
  • The seals played on the shore

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word shore.  

If you are sure about something, it means you are confident or certain about it. 

Here is sure used in some example sentences:

  • .I’m sure it is going to rain. 
  • Are you sure you can help me?

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word sure.  

Where does each word come from?

Shore dates to around 1300 and either comes from the Old English/Middle Low German ‘schor’ meaning ‘headland’, or from the Middle Dutch ‘scorre’ meaning ‘land washed by the sea’. Both ‘schor’ and ‘scorre’ likely come from the Proto-Germanic ‘skur-o’ meaning ‘cut’, from the PIE root ‘sker’ also meaning ‘cut’.  While the word orginally may only have referred to land that was cut off the mainland by tides, shore has been used to mean ‘land by the sea’ since the 1610s.

Sure comes from the Old French ‘seur, sur’ meaning ‘safe’ or ‘undoubted’, from the Latin ‘securus’ meaning ‘safe’. The word has been used to mean ‘secure’ since the early-thirteenth century, ‘reliable’ since the start of the fourteenth century, ‘certain’ or ‘confident’ since the mid-fourteenth century, and ‘resolute’ since the start of the fifteenth century. 

Sure has been used in place of ‘yes’ since 1803. 

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between shore and sure?

  • Think of sea shells on the sea shore to help you remember shore is spelt with an sh
  • Think of the question ‘Are you sure?’ to help you remember sure is spelt with a u.

You can find a list of all our Commonly Confused Words blog posts here.


12 Aug 2021
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