To contend is to earnestly dispute or strive in debate. It is to assert your position or beliefs in a determined and perhaps even competitive manner. This term is commonly used in legal contexts, for instance, to talk about the assertions that lawyers, defendants, and plaintiffs make in a case. One of the most common uses of this verb, however, deviates from this meaning slightly: to contend with something, as in families contending with remote learning, is to grapple with it—not dispute it.
The adjective exceptional describes things that are out of the ordinary or rare. Exceptional circumstances, for instance, are circumstances that deviate from the norm or from what’s expected. Often, exceptional implies excellence and superiority, as is the case when we talk about someone with exceptional talent. Here, the degree of excellence is what sets the talent apart and makes it an exception.
Something that is apparent is readily seen or perceived; it is obvious. For instance, a solution to a problem that is apparent to all is widely seen and understood—it requires no uncovering or pointing out. However, things are not always what they seem with this wily adjective! Apparent is frequently used to imply room between what is actual and what appears to be true.