How many of the following questions can you or your child answer correctly?
- Stephy was not surprised to find her pet unicorn in the middle of the [desert/dessert].
- “Getting lost is your just [deserts/desserts] for using Apple Maps instead of Google Maps like I told you to,” Stephy chided the unicorn.
- “I will not [desert/dessert] you in your time of need,” Stephy reassured the dehydrated unicorn.
- “I’m not hungry, so I will have just [deserts/desserts]. You can have my hamburger,” Stephy said as she stuffed the Big Mac into the unicorn’s mouth.
‘Desert’ and ‘dessert’ rank amongst the most commonly confused words, with question 4 tripping many a student. (This error usually manifests at the end of a composition, where the protagonist/antagonist receives the punishment he or she deserves.)
Let’s sort out ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’ once and for all!
(a) Dessert (noun) Meaning: the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal
(b) Desert (noun)
Meaning: A dry, waterless area of land devoid of vegetation
(c) Desert (noun)
Meaning: Punishment that someone deserves
(d) Desert (verb):
Meaning: To leave or abandon
As you can see (or read from the phonetic transcription), when used in the context of appropriate punishment or abandon, ‘desert’ is pronounced just like ‘dessert’. Hence the confusion…