Commonly Confused Words

Commonly Confused Words 

A  (Use before a consonant sound)  A Coke, a TV, a movie 
An  (Use before a vowel sound)  An ache, an experiment, an hour 
     
Accept  (To receive or agree to)  We accept the terms of the agreement. 
Except  (Exclude; but)  Everyone voted except Sarah. 
     
Among  (Preferred)  He worked among the poor. 
Among  (Refers to three or more)  Among my friends, Mark is the oldest. 
Amongst  (Antiquated)  He worked amongst the poor. 
Between  (Refers to two)  Between you and me, he’s crazy. 
     
Advice  (An opinion)  Take my advice. 
Advise  (To counsel or give advice)  Veronica will advise you. 
     
A lot  (Always two words)  A lot of problems have no solutions. 
A lot  (Avoid in formal papers; use “many”)  Many problems have no solutions. 
All right  (Always two words in formal writing)  We decided everything was all right. 
     
Affect  (To influence)  Lack of sleep can affect your grades. 
Effect  (The result)  The effect of not studying is lower grades. 
     
Amount  (Used for non-countable things)  No amount of work will help. 
Number  (Used for countable things)  A large number of workers is useless. 
     
Every day  (Each day)  I work every day of the week. 
Everyday  (Happening each day)  Complaints are everyday occurrences. 
     
Farther  (Use with distance)  How much farther is Kellett Hall? 
Further  (Use with degree)  What further advice do you have? 
     
Fewer  (Use with countables)  Fewer people went on the trip this year. 
Less  (Use with non-countables)  We had less trouble this year. 
     
Desert  (A dry stretch of land)  We visited the Painted Desert. 
Desert  (To abandon one’s post)  The man deserted his family. 
Dessert  (A sweet dish after a meal)  We had cake for dessert. 
     
Insure  (To guarantee against loss)  Tim insured his new car for full coverage. 
Ensure  (To make sure or certain)  Let’s ensure that the message is clear. 
Assure  (Convince or promise)  I assure you that it isn’t dangerous. 
     
Its  (Belonging to it)  Look at its cute little tail! 
It’s  (Contraction of “it is”)  It’s a puppy. 
Know  (To understand)  I know what you mean. 
No  (Negative)  No people live there. 
     
Lead  (To guide)  He will lead the way to the cave. 
Led  (Past tense of “to lead”)  He led the way to the cave yesterday. 
Lead  (A metal)  The lead pipe fell on my foot. 
     
Loose  (Not secure)  Sew on that loose button. 
Lose  (Misplace)  I always lose socks when I do laundry. 
     
May be  (May occur)  She may be the one I will marry. 
Maybe  (Perhaps)  Maybe I’ll eat pizza for dinner. 
     
Moral  (A concise lesson)  The moral of the story is obvious. 
Morale  (Mood or spirit)  Employee morale was low after layoffs. 
     
Passed  (Went by or succeeded in)  Every student passed the test. 
Past  (A time before now)  Don’t dwell on the past. 
     
Peace  (Calm)  The citizens wanted peace in their city. 
Piece  (A part)  Please save me a piece of cake. 
     
Principal  (Main)  Communication is the principal problem. 
Principal  (One who runs a school)  Mr. Cassidy is the principal. 
Principle  (A law or standard)  What are the principles of economics? 
     
Regard  (Concerning)  His letter is in regard to my bill. 
Regards  (Friendly greeting)  Give my regards to your sister. 
     
Than  (Used in comparisons)  My brother is taller than my sister. 
Then  (At that time)  Then I let him have it. 
     
Their  (Belonging to them)  Their house is in the country. 
There  (At that place)  You will find the painting there. 
They’re  (Contraction of “they are”)  They’re coming for dinner. 
     
To  (Toward)  I’m going to the store. 
Too  (Also)  The donuts were hot, too. 
Too  (Very)  He parked too close to the line. 
Two  (2)  She has two dogs. 
     
Whose  (Belonging to whom)  Whose coat is this? 
Who’s  (Contraction of “who is”)  Who’s going? 
     
You’re  (Contraction of “You are”)  You’re in the play. 
Your  (Possessive pronoun)  Your cousin is my neighbor.