Differences between commonly confused words in English. Learn the difference between confusing words in English to improve and expand your vocabulary in English.

In our daily lives, we may come across some words that might seem a little bit confusing. Confusion can arise for multiple reasons, but the most common one is the similarity of the words. In the following paragraphs, we will present to you some of these confusing words, their meaning, usage, and some tips on how to differentiate them in the future.

Difference Between Confusing Words

Here is a useful list of the most commonly misused words in the English language with examples.

Commonly Confused Words | A

ADAPT vs ADOPT

  • You should adapt to the new class.
  • I have decided to adopt a child.

AFFECTIVE vs EFFECTIVE

  • They are followed by a very important affective objective.
  • We find advertising on the radio very effective.

ALRIGHT vs ALL RIGHT

  • Is everything all right?
  • Everything is gonna be alright.

AMBIANCE or AMBIENCE

  • I like the ambiance of this restaurant.
  • The restaurant has a pleasant ambience.

AMONG vs AMONGST

  • Shakespeare is a giant among writers.
  • A triplet sleeps amongst its two siblings.

AMORAL vs IMMORAL

  • She was amoral but honest.
  • It’s immoral to steal.

ANYONE vs ANY ONE

  • He never exerts himself to help anyone.
  • If any one of your friends knows, please tell them to keep quiet.

AVERSE vs ADVERSE

  • We are averse to such noisy surroundings.
  • There were no adverse toxicological effects.

AWHILE vs A WHILE

  • I read awhile, then slept.
  • I’ll be back in a while.

AID vs AIDE

  • A thesaurus is a useful aid to writing.
  • Vegetables are usually cooked to aid digestion.

ALOT or A LOT

  • I’m glad to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.

ATTORNEY vs LAWYER

  • The defense lawyer made an eloquent plea for his client’s acquittal.
  • She was made her father’s attorney when he became ill.

ANYMORE vs ANY MORE

  • Sorry, I forgot. You don’t need me anymore.
  • We can’t get any more people onto this train.

ATTAIN vs OBTAIN

  • The cheetah can attain speeds of up to 97 kph.
  • Where can I obtain a copy of her latest book?

Commonly Misused Words | B

BESIDE or BESIDES

  • He went and sat beside her.
  • I don’t want to go; besides, I’m too tired.

BORROW vs LEND

  • Can I borrow a hair dryer?
  • Can you lend me your car this evening?

BOSS vs LEADER

  • I asked my boss for a holiday.
  • I don’t want to be a leader.

BREATH vs BREATHE

  • I’m just going out for a breath of fresh air.
  • I don’t have time to breathe.

BROUGHT vs BOUGHT

  • The photos brought back some wonderful memories.
  • bought a brick of ice cream for Jimmy.

BEGAN vs BEGUN

  • He began with a brief introduction.
  • Inflation has begun to level off.

BUNNY vs RABBIT

  • We fed the rabbit some beetroot tops.
  • I think they should buy a bunny rabbit.

BLOND or BLONDE

  • His long blond hair was parted in the center.
  • His wife was blonde and fashionably thin.

Difference between Confusing Words | C

CAN vs MAY

  • Can you tell the difference between apes and monkeys?
  • Better pills may have wholesome effects.

CHOSE vs CHOOSE

  • We chose Paul Stubbs to be chairperson.
  • Why did you choose to live in London?

COME vs GO

  • Could you come and see me tomorrow?
  • She was reluctant to go with him.

COMRADERY or CAMARADERIE

  • The comradery brings two people closer together.
  • The camaraderie was a psychic lifesaver.

CONSCIENCE vs CONSCIOUS

  • Your conscience should tell you the difference between right and wrong.
  • She spoke to us in her conscious moments.

CONTINUAL vs CONTINUOUS

  • The school has been in continual use since 1883.
  • We must be continuous to study.

CACAO vs COCOA

  • Chocolate is a product of the tropical cacao tree.
  • He likes to have a mug of cocoa before bed.

CLIP vs MAGAZINE

  • Zemeckis said he was not certain where he found that clip.
  • Found in the car were maps, a machine gun magazine, a length of rope, and a bullwhip.

CLIENT vs CUSTOMER

  • He refused to reveal the identity of his client.
  • The firm has an excellent customer service department.

CRITERIA vs CRITERION

  • By this criterion, very few people are suitable.
  • The bank is reassessing its criteria for lending money.

CONCAVE vs CONVEX

  • The snow presents a concave shape.
  • The convex surfaces face toward the left.

CANNOT or CAN NOT

  • You cannot clap with one hand.
  • Roads can not only ruin the countryside but also divide communities.

CATSUP vs KETCHUP

  • A smudge of catsup made the paint on her chin.
  • Do you want some ketchup with your burger?

Commonly Misused Words | D

DESERT vs DESSERT

  • Few kinds of plants grow in the desert.
  • This delicious dessert is easy to make.

DO vs DOES

  • do it because I like it.
  • She does not seem to understand the difference between truth and falsehood.

DRANK vs DRUNK

  • She drank her soda through a straw.
  • Jack had drunk too much at the party.

DREAMED or DREAMT

  • They dreamed of traveling to foreign lands.
  • I often dreamt about my hometown.

Commonly Misused Words | E

EACH vs EVERY

  • You should allocate the same amount of time to each question.
  • She sat in the corner, watching my every move.

EFFECTIVE vs EFFICIENT

  • The book aims to teach effective essay writing.
  • He has an efficient business setup.

EITHER or NEITHER

  • You don’t like apples. I don’t either.
  • Neither of the speakers has arrived yet.

EMIGRATE vs IMMIGRATE

  • I’ll emigrate to the western woods.
  • Tom immigrates into the United State.

EMPATHY vs SYMPATHY

  • They feel empathy for what he felt.
  • I have no sympathy for beggars.

END vs FINISH

  • The classes begin and end at fixed times.
  • The book was so dull that I didn’t finish it.

ESPECIALLY vs SPECIALLY

  • Divorce is very painful, especially when children are concerned.
  • The ring was specially made for her.

EVERYDAY vs EVERY DAY

  • This handbook is a neat epitome of everyday hygiene.
  • I feel drowsy after lunch every day.

EVERYONE vs EVERYBODY

  • Everyone will have an opportunity to comment.
  • The police questioned everybody in the room.

Commonly Misused Words | F

FLIER or FLYER

  • A woman contacted me after seeing the flier.
  • He knew now that he himself would never have made a flyer.

FORMER vs LATTER

  • My former husband is a journalist.
  • In the latter stages of the fight, he began to tire.

FURTHER vs FARTHER

  • You can only gain by further study.
  • I am tired and cannot walk any farther.

FIANCEE or FIANCE

  • I want to buy an engagement ring for my fiancee.
  • My fiance and I will tie the knot next April.

FRESHMAN or FRESHMEN

  • I wish I could start all and turn back to my freshman life.
  • Zack and Cody are freshmen at Brooklyn College.

FICTION vs NONFICTION

  • In the story, the truth was interweaved with fiction.
  • Look at nonfiction books published in the last couple of years.

Commonly Confused Words | G

GOOD vs WELL

  • He speaks English and Spanish as well.
  • She can see the difference between good and bad.

GREATFUL or GRATEFUL

  • We are grateful for your inquiry of May 23, 1998.

Commonly Confused Words | H

HAS vs HAVE

  • Do you have any money?
  • She has a car that we can borrow.

HISTORIC vs HISTORICAL

  • That is a great historic opportunity.
  • She belongs to the historical society.

HOUSE vs HOME

  • The house is on the side of a hill.
  • I don’ t want to go home in the dark.

Commonly Confused Words | I

I vs ME

  • Tom and I are going to the movies.
  • She asked me to bring my homework.

INFER vs IMPLY

  • What do you infer from her refusal?
  • What did she imply in her words?

INSURE vs ENSURE

  • Check your work to insure its accuracy.
  • The price is low to ensure a quick sale.

INTER vs INTRA

  • In the meantime, the author also analyses interculture labor management.
  •  We faced keen competition in intra-scholastic basketball games.

IMPLICIT vs EXPLICIT

  • Her words contained an implicit threat.
  • They gave explicit reasons for leaving.

INTO vs IN TO

  • Cut the vegetables into thin strips.
  • You need to log in to post a comment.

INVOKE vs EVOKE

  • You invoke the basic, primeval instincts inherent in all animals.
  • His appearance is bound to evoke sympathy.

INCASE or IN CASE

  • Don’t play by the river in case you fall in and drown!
  • His broken leg was encased in plaster.

Confusing Words | J

JEALOUSY vs ENVY

  • He broke his brother’s new bike in a fit of jealousy.
  • She felt a pang of envy at the thought of his success.

Confusing Words | L

LAY vs LIE

  • Several boats lay at anchor in the harbor.
  • He went to lie down after a long journey.

LESS vs FEWER

  • He is paid less than he really earns.
  • There seem to be fewer tourists around this year.

LOSE vs LOOSE

  • I always lose at cards, with my bad luck.
  • These jeans are loose around my waist.

LESSOR vs LESSEE

  • Lessee uses vehicles for illegal activities.
  • The lessor receives capital allowances against tax.

Commonly Confused Words | M

MACRO vs MICRO

  • This includes usable samples of the various macro commands.
  • How fast does the new micro process the data?

MAY vs MIGHT

  • You may make a difference between the new word and coinages.
  • I know it sounds crazy but it just might work.

MUCH vs MANY

  • There is too much noise in this class.
  • How many students are there in each class?

MUST vs HAVE TO

  • We must make a difference between the two types of contradiction.
  • We all have to make a choice.

MS vs MRS

  • Ms. Kelly is currently assisting another customer. May I help you?
  • Mrs. Smith is too contrary to make friends easily.

ME vs MYSELF

  • Pardon me – I didn’t hear what you said.
  • I can express myself in good English.

Commonly Misused Words | N

NET vs GROSS

  • Net cash inflow has increased by 20%.
  • Investments showed a gross profit of 26%.

Confusing Words | O

OFF OF

  • Turn off the light.
  • I have a pair of shoes that I bought from London.

ONLINE or ON-LINE

  • We planned to build an online database.
  • You can book tickets by fax or on-line.

ONTO vs ON TO

  • I’ll get onto the director and see if he can help.
  • Record your result, and go on to step 3.

Commonly Confused Words | P

POSSUM vs OPOSSUM

  • In the evening possums, owls and bats emerge to feed.
  • We had rabbit and squirrel, too, anything but opossum.

PAYED vs PAID

  • His monthly salary is paid in the bank by his employer.

Commonly Misused Words | R

REVISE vs EDIT

  • I’ll have to revise my ideas about Tom.
  • She used to edit a women’s magazine.

RACE vs ETHNICITY

  • The school welcomes children of all races.
  • He said his ethnicity had not been important to him.

Commonly Confused Words | S

SEEN vs SAW

  • Karen had seldom seen him so angry.
  • My parents saw me off at the airport.

SELL vs SALE

  • We sell quality tools at the right price.
  • The shoe shop is having a sale this week.

SO vs SUCH

  • I’m so cold I can’t move my fingers.
  • I can hardly imagine such a scene.

SOMETIME vs SOME TIME

  • He suggested we get together for a drink sometime.
  • Give it some time until he adjusts to the new situation.

SUPPER vs DINNER

  • I’ll have instant noodle for supper.
  • Will you have dinner with me tonight?

SMOKY or SMOKEY

  • The street began smoky and dark.
  • I remember standing in the district court before old Smokey Lewis.

Commonly Misused Words | T

THAT vs WHICH

  • My dog that is a Labrador loves to play fetch.
  • My bike, which has 10 speeds, is for sale.

THRU vs THROUGH

  • Look at the world through rose-colored glasses.
  • I can help her get thru it because I did.

Commonly Misused Words | W

WAS vs WERE

  • The story was too grotesque to believe.
  • They were very ambitious for their children.

WHICH vs WHAT

  • What is the difference between a Romanist and a Christian?
  • Which one do you like better?

WHO vs WHOM

  • Who are you?
  • Whom do you believe?

WISDOM vs INTELLIGENCE

  • He showed great wisdom in the business.
  • The children were given an intelligence test.

WOMAN vs WOMEN

  • She was a very beautiful woman.
  • Women usually live longer than men.

WORSE or WORST

  • You are worse than him.
  • She is the worst singer I know.

WONDER vs WANDER

  • wonder why James is always late for school.
  • I’ll wander around the mall for half an hour.

List of Commonly Confused Words | Infographic

Confusing Words – Difference Between Commonly Misused Words

Difference Between - Commonly Confused Words

Confusing Words – Difference Between Commonly Misused Words

Difference Between Commonly Confused Words in English

List of Commonly Confused Words

List of Commonly Confused Words

Difference Between Confusing Words

Commonly Misused Words

Homophones

In English, homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

British English vs American English

What are the differences between American English vs British English?

Difference Between Commonly Confused Words in English 1