miner vs. minor

What is the difference between miner and minor?

The suffixes “-er” and “-or” can cause a lot of confusion for writers because they sound the same (/-ər/) and behave the same way, usually denoting noun that performs an action.
This is the case when we write miner, someone who mines ore or other materials from the Earth, as in:
  • “The miners are on strike until their pay reflects the danger of their work.”
  • “This town was inhabited almost entirely by coal miners and their families.”
Minor, however, is taken directly from Latin as a gendered form of minus. It is usually an adjective meaning “lesser, smaller, or inferior,” or a noun meaning “a person who is below the age of majority.” For example:
  • “The driving test is so strict here that you can fail for the most minor mistakes.”
  • “After a minor setback, the crew was quickly back on schedule.”
  • “We’ve had a problem with minors sneaking into the club with fake IDs.”
When trying to determine which spelling is correct, just remember that miner contains the word mine, the action from which it is derived. If the word you’re writing does not have to do with mining, then minor is the correct choice.
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