Similar, often confused words in English

Publicado por Gonzalo

In English, as well as in any other language, there are words that can often be confused with another because they loook or sound similar. It is not the same to have an eligibly CV than to have an illegible CV. In the following list below, you will find some of the most typical pair of words that some people might find impossible to tell apart:

 

  • Advice – guidance or recommendation about future action – a noun.
    EG: I gave him some advice about which job to take.
  • Advise – to recommend a course of action – a verb.
    EG: Please advise me about the new regulations.

 

  • Affect – change, make a difference, influence – a verb.
    EG: The discount will affect sales. The toxins from the factory will affect the river.
  • Effect – a) most commonly a noun: the result, consequence.
    EG: Paracetamol has pain-reducing effect.
    b) Can also be a verb (less common): to bring about (a result), to cause.
    EG: She will effect many changes in the group. He effected a cost-cutting exercise.
    (Best to avoid and use “bring about”, “cause”, or “carry out” according to context).

 

  • Assist – to help.
    EG: Please would you assist me with this suitcase which is very heavy.
  • Attend – to take part in an event, to be one of the people at a party etc.
    EG: If you attend the seminar, please take notes for me.

 

  • Coarse – texture that feels rough, not smooth.
    EG: Isn't sand paper a bit coarse to clean that glass?
  • Course – a series of classes you take to learn about a certain subject.
    EG: On March, I'll enrol in the piano course that was advertised through the blog.

 

  • Complement – to add something in a way that improves, make complete.
    EG: The sweet white wine complemented the delicious dessert.
  • Compliment – praise, congratulate.
    EG: He complimented the teacher on the good results.

 

  • Compare WITH – difference.
    EG: Please compare these prices with the ones we pay today.
  • Compare TO – similarity.
    EG: In order to know if the two products are identical, please compare the first to the second very carefully.

 

  • Continuous – uninterrupted.
    EG: There was continuous noise all night.
  • Continual – goes on and on, but there are breaks.
    EG: We have a continual problem with late arrival of participants at meetings.

 

  • Definitive – authoritative, final, decisive.
    EG: The definitive resolution of the Board was that the project.
  • Definite – certain, clearly defined, without ambiguity.
    EG: I need a definite answer by tomorrow morning.

 

  • Eligible – satisfying.
    EG: Her fine score in the exam made her eligible for a scholarship.
  • Illegible – not clear enough to be read.
    EG: Doctors often have illegible handwriting.

 

  • Insure (insurance) – to arrange for payment in the event of loss/damage (against risks).
    EG: You should insure your household belongings against fire.
  • Assure – to affirm, to give confidence, to say in a positive way.
    EG: I assure you that I am correct about this issue.
  • Ensure – to make sure/certain.
    EG: Please ensure to lock the door when you leave.

 

  • Less – measurable quantity or proportion.
    EG: There was less than U$200 available for the project. He had less than 20 liters of petrol in his car.
  • Fewer – numbers or individual items or people.
    EG: Fewer than 10 people came. There were fewer problems this time.

 

  • Lose – the opposite of to find – verb.
  • Loose – the opposite of tight – not fixed or tied.
    EG: If I manage to lose that much weight my clothes will look loose!

 

  • Practice – UK: Noun only – Repeated performance of an activity in order to learn or perfect a skill.
    EG: The football practice was very long yesterday evening.
  • Practise – UK – Verb (In the US only “practice” is used for the noun and verb).
    EG: You need to practise your English in order to speak more fluently.

 

  • Race – compete in a contest of speed, like running or cycling.
    EG: My brother loves to race against his friends.
  • Raise – lift up something.
    EG: As the war ends, the soldiers raise a white flag.

 

  • Stationary – not moving – adjective.
    EG: The traffic light went green but the car remained stationary.
  • Stationery – writing paper, also used more generally for materials used for writing – noun.
    EG: I need to buy more stationery for my office.

 

 

 

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Gonzalo

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