Collaborate vs. Corroborate

Another Television Error #6

By Annette Rey

These words are more commonly misused than I like to think and have been brought to mind by another example – this is number six – of improper choice of word on a real crime television program. Albeit the incorrect word was chosen by a person being interviewed and not by the programming staff, still I am amazed the staff did not stop taping and did not perfect their broadcast.

Let’s look at these words.

I have first chosen collaborate because that is what many writers do – they collaborate with another writer to construct a story, to borrow the expertise of the second writer, or to otherwise join in the production of a written piece of work.

Collaboration can also come in the form of cooperating with an invading enemy, or with a business associate or company, any joining of minds for a shared outcome.

Corroborate means to confirm, such as in giving validity to an alibi. “She was with me at the time of the crime.” Corroboration means to substantiate or verify a statement or, for example, the results of a study.

I don’t want to confuse you, but two or more people can collaborate (join in a plot) to corroborate (confirm) each other’s alibi. So you see, corroboration does not necessarily mean an honest validation. It just means the statements agree.

In the picture above – the pigs are collaborating – one is helping the other in a common endeavor – they have a common goal. If asked later, one may say, “I pushed the cart while my friend rode in the cart.” The friend could corroborate that statement by agreeing he rode while the other pushed.

Create your own sentences, using these words correctly. Finally, create a couple of sentences where you use both words, as in the example above.

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