English language has many confusing words that can make even native speakers doubt their knowledge. But in fact, these commonly confused words can be not so confusing once you understand the difference between them or learn a couple of tricks that can help you remember.
So, what are confused words? Confused words include words that have similar pronunciation or spelling but differ in meaning. We have decided to collect frequently confused words and clarify why they are often used wrong and how to use them right. We want to clear the difference between often confused words their and there, advice and advise, affect and effect and many others.
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Words often confused by Americans, actually have a very easy explanation. Learn this list of easily confused words and you can stop worrying about making common mistakes. Forget about the problem of long confusing words and become a grammar and spelling guru who uses right all the words frequently confused by the majority of people.
Affect vs Effect
Remember, when there is an action, you use the verb “affect”, and when there is a result, use a noun “effect”. For example: “He affected their lives by his story” and “He had no effect on their lives with that story”.
Ensure vs Insure
Remember to use “ensure” when you can replace it with “make sure”. Use “insure” only when you are talking about the legal act of protecting someone’s financial state in case of a certain trouble.
Than vs Then
This is a very often confused pair of words. Try not to forget, that “than” means strictly comparison (My grammar is better than yours) and “then” has a meaning time (And then he started using those words right).
Farther vs Further
In this case, the question is whether we are talking about physical distance (use “farther”) or figurative distance (use “further”). For example:
He needs to drive farther to get to that lake.
This legal case requires further examination.
Their vs There
This is one of the leaders among the most confused pairs of words. The difference is clear, though. We use “their” when we talk about an item that belongs to someone or something: Their car is very fast. We use “there” then we talk about a certain place: My book is there not here.
Chose vs Choose
This is an easy one. These are the same words but used in Present (choose) and Past (chose) tenses. You can try to remember which word shows which case by remembering that the words “choose” and “present” have more letters in them than the words “chose” and “past”.
Capital vs Capitol
The word “capitol” has one strict meaning – it is a building. While “capital” has several meanings, including a sum of money or a country’s headquarter.
Lie vs Lay
This is a tricky one. “Lay” usually has one meaning, which is to place something somewhere. For example, “Lay down your laptop and help me”. “Lie” means to rest or to be in horizontal position, for example, “You can lie down now, I don’t need your help anymore”. “Lie” can also mean telling not truth. The tricky thing about it is the past tense of these verbs. You need to remember it:
Lay – laid – laid
Lie – lay – lain
Compliment vs Complement
The little letters “i” and “e” can change the meaning. The word “compliment” means a flattery comment, e.g. He complimented her hair. The word “complement” shows that two or more things go great together, e.g. The sauce is the ideal complement to this stake.
Advice vs Advise
Remember, that “advise” is a verb and “advice” is a noun. For example, He advised me about the fitness centers in the city. The advice he gave me was great for me.
There are so many similar words in the English language; it is very easy to get confused sometimes. If you have any doubts, you should better consult a dictionary.
Lisa is a design geek and young blogger, developing her personal style. Currently Lisa is responcible for all graphic materials on GoHunters. She discovered in herself passion to drawing and painting in early childhood and that led her to become graphic designer. Her professional interests are related to creating illustrations and developing brand image. She is happy to join such challenging project as GoHunters. Lisa loves to show her work and to share her knowledge with audience. Sign up if you want to get all Lisa’s articles’ updates!