100 Commonly Confused Words in English

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    Learn English 2Sophia

    Take a look at these two sentences – one of them contains a mistake:

    I poured over book after book.

    We pored over the catalogues.

    Are you uncertain which one is right? There are a lot of words in English that look or sound alike but have very different meanings, such as pore and pour or flaunt and flout. It’s easy to get them confused and most electronic spellcheckers won’t be much help in this type of situation: they can tell you if a word has been spelled wrongly but they can’t generally flag up the misuse of a correctly spelled word.

    Learn English 3

    Here’s a quick-reference list of pairs of words that regularly cause people problems. The words follow the accepted British English spelling. Some of them do have alternative American spellings and you will find these in the dictionary.


    accept: to agree to receive or do

    except: not including


    adverse: unfavourable, harmful

    averse: strongly disliking; opposed


    advice: recommendations about what to do

    advise: to recommend something


    affect: to change or make a difference to

    effect: a result; to bring about a result


    aisle: a passage between rows of seats

    isle: an island


    all together: all in one place, all at once

    altogether: completely; on the whole


    along: moving or extending horizontally on

    a long: referring to something of great length


    aloud: out loud

    allowed: permitted


    altar: a sacred table in a church

    alter: to change


    amoral: not concerned with right or wrong

    immoral: not following accepted moral standards


    appraise: to assess

    apprise: to inform someone


    assent: agreement, approval

    ascent: the action of rising or climbing up


    aural: relating to the ears or hearing

    oral: relating to the mouth; spoken


    balmy: pleasantly warm

    barmy: foolish, crazy


    bare: naked; to uncover

    bear: to carry; to put up with


    bated: in phrase ‘with bated breath’, i.e. in great suspense

    baited: with bait attached or inserted


    bazaar: a Middle Eastern market

    bizarre: strange


    berth: a bunk in a ship, train, etc.

    birth: the emergence of a baby from the womb


    born: having started life

    borne: carried


    bough: a branch of a tree

    bow: to bend the head; the front of a ship


    brake: a device for stopping a vehicle; to stop a vehicle

    break: to separate into pieces; a pause


    breach: to break through, or break a rule; a gap

    breech: the back part of a gun barrel


    broach: to raise a subject for discussion

    brooch: a piece of jewellery


    canvas: a type of strong cloth

    canvass: to seek people’s votes


    censure: to criticize strongly

    censor: to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this


    cereal: a grass producing an edible grain; a breakfast food made from grains

    serial: happening in a series


    chord: a group of musical notes

    cord: a length of string; a cord-like body part


    climactic: forming a climax

    climatic: relating to climate


    coarse: rough

    course: a direction; a school subject; part of a meal


    complacent: smug and self-satisfied

    complaisant: willing to please


    complement: to add to so as to improve; an addition that improves something

    compliment: to praise or express approval; an admiring remark


    council: a group of people who manage or advise

    counsel: advice; to advise


    cue: a signal for action; a wooden rod

    queue: a line of people or vehicles


    curb: to keep something in check; a control or limit

    kerb: (in British English) the stone edge of a pavement


    currant: a dried grape

    current: happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity


    defuse: to make a situation less tense

    diffuse: to spread over a wide area


    desert: a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone

    dessert: the sweet course of a meal


    discreet: careful not to attract attention

    discrete: separate and distinct


    disinterested: impartial

    uninterested: not interested


    draught: a current of air

    draft: a first version of a piece of writing


    draw: an even score at the end of a game

    drawer: a sliding storage compartment


    dual: having two parts

    duel: a fight or contest between two people


    elicit: to draw out a reply or reaction

    illicit: not allowed by law or rules


    ensure: to make certain that something will happen

    insure: to provide compensation if a person dies or property is damaged


    envelop: to cover or surround

    envelope: a paper container for a letter


    exercise: physical activity; to do physical activity

    exorcise: to drive out an evil spirit


    fawn: a young deer; light brown

    faun: a mythical being, part man, part goat


    flaunt: to display ostentatiously

    flout: to disregard a rule


    flounder: to move clumsily; to have difficulty doing something

    founder: to fail


    forbear: to refrain

    forebear” an ancestor


    foreword: an introduction to a book

    forward: onwards, ahead

                                                                                                                   Source: oxforddictionaries.com


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