Commensurate vs. Commiserate

How to use "commensurate" and "commiserate" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

The adjective commensurate, which means “proportionate; corresponding in amount or degree” can be used with either with or to:

punishment commensurate with/to the crime
salary commensurate with/to my value to the company

Don’t confuse commensurate with commiserate, a verb meaning “to sympathize” or “to express sorrow for”:

commiserated with him over his string of bad luck, hoping to make him feel better

Commiserate has the same root as the word misery, so think of its meaning as “to share in someone’s misery.”

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.