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Is it ‘common’ or ‘mutual’?

People often hesitate when they have to decide between these two words.

For instance, the euro is a common currency, not a mutual currency.

Something that’s common is shared and belongs equally to more than one person: the common good, common interests, common sense.

Asthma is a common complaint in New Zealand.

Mutual means directed toward each other. So mutual enemies are people who hate each other while mutual admiration is to admire each other.

Their partnership was based on mutual respect and trust.

We also talk about a mutual friend to say that a third person is a friend of two others:

They met through a mutual friend.

Even though we really mean a shared friend, so a friend in common, this fixed expression is fine to use.

Think CC for a common currency and MM for mutual admiration to remember the difference.

Even better, create your own catchphrases.

And see here, here and here for explanations of other common confusions.

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© Christina Wielgolawski