Commonly Misused Words: Caramel

September 25, 2008: Issue 257 

Caramel is a candy or a creamy brown color. Carmel is a city in California.

Why do we get so easily confused on this one? The preferred pronunciation for the candy is two syllables; the a in the middle is silent. The vowel sounds are the same as in the word marble.

The city is also two syllables, but it’s pronounced with the accent on the second.

Usage note: In rare cases, any spelling and pronunciation you choose will be acceptable. For instance, there’s no wrong way to say “Hey, copy desk, would you like some fresh caramel apples to celebrate National Punctuation Day?”

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