Word Choice: Genes vs. Jeans
  • 2-minute read
  • 14th July 2021

Word Choice: Genes vs. Jeans

The words ‘genes’ and ‘jeans’ may sound alike, but they’re spelled differently and have different meanings. In this post, then, we’ll explain how to use both terms so that you can make sure your writing is always error-free.

Genes (Units of Heredity)

A ‘gene’ is the basic unit of heredity (i.e. how living things pass on traits to offspring). An organism’s genes affect how it develops, looks and behaves. Every gene is made up of DNA, with different genes coded for different functions.

In a scientific context, then, you can use ‘genes’ to refer to DNA sequences that living things use to pass on information between generations:

Oncogenes are genes that have the potential to cause cancer.

Those genes are passed down through the male line.

Less formally, we can use it to discuss traits passed on from parents to children:

She must have good genes given how successful her parents are!

Researchers at the Human Genome Project estimate that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. Remarkably, this may be only 1–2% of our overall DNA!

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Jeans (Hardy Trousers)

‘Jeans’ are a type of trousers made from denim or another strong cotton cloth:

He wore a faded pair of blue jeans.

Is it inappropriate to wear jeans in the office?

Without exception, ‘jeans’ is always a plural noun (i.e. you never have a single ‘jean’). However, you can use ‘jeans’ to refer to a single pair of jeans.

Summary: Genes or Jeans?

Although ‘genes’ and ‘jeans’ sound the same, you don’t want to mix them up in your writing. Remember the following difference:

  • Genes is the plural form of the noun ‘gene’ and refers to units of heredity (i.e. the part of DNA that controls how living things pass on traits to their offspring).
  • Jeans is always a plural noun and refers to a type of trousers.

Since these words have different meanings – one is a biological term and the other an item of clothing – it should be easy to tell them apart! However, it may help to remember that the study of genes is called ‘genetics’, and both words start with a ‘g’.

If you would like any more help with your spelling or word choice, our team of expert proofreaders is available whenever you need them.

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