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Grammar 101: Collaborate and Corroborate

March 1st, 2013 by

Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

As I’ve said many times before in these Grammar 101 posts, there are many words in the English language that either sound exactly the same or sound pretty similar to one another. It’s understandable that you might confuse some of these word pairs, especially if they are words that you don’t use on an everyday basis.

One such example is collaborate and corroborate. Both of these verbs start with the letter “C” and end with “borate,” but they don’t at all have the same meaning.

Collaborate means to work together on a common project toward a common goal. This is oftentimes used in the context of an intellectual or academic endeavor, but it could just as easily apply to any number of different projects. Here are a couple of examples:

  • John Chow chose to collaborate with me in the writing of our Make Money Online book.
  • The new Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S sports cars are the result of a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota.

Although less common, collaborate can also be used in a military or political context, meaning to cooperate with an enemy nation. The traitor collaborated with the Trojans to facilitate their invasion.

Corroborate, on the other hand, means to confirm or support a statement that was already given. This is most often used in a legal context. If Bill has an alibi, saying that he was actually at school when the crime happened, another student at the school may be able to corroborate the story if he or she saw Bill at school during that time period. The other person is helping to verify and strengthen the original statement or story.

  • All the people in the arena can corroborate my account of what happened that night.
  • His findings were later corroborated by other case studies on the same subject.

In other words, to corroborate is to provide support or evidence, demonstrating consistency and confirming the veracity of the original statement, claim or story.

Do you have a suggestion for a future Grammar 101 post? Post a comment below and we can collaborate on the possibilities. Then, when I’ve published the posts, you can corroborate their accuracy.

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4 Responses to “Grammar 101: Collaborate and Corroborate”

  1. Jim says:

    Another similar word that also begins with C (though it doesn’t share the “orate” ending) is collude.
    Like collaborate, it means to work together towards a common goal, however it means doing so in an illegal and/or dishonest way.

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