Top 20 Commonly Confused English Words: Distinctions in Meaning

Memes on Words Confusion

English language is swarming with similar words. They can sound or look equal but be dissimilar in their meaning. Other word pairs can look and sound not alike, but to be actually the same in meaning. The misuse of such words creates many uncomfortable moments in life, especially when you are an international student. The undermentioned list of words that represent the main challenge and can confuse will help you determine a proper orthography of such tricky words.

Advice or Advise

Advice is a piece of information that can help you. (e.g., Only Maty gave me a really useful piece of advice).

To advise is a verb that implies that already you or someone else shares this specific information to help someone (e.g., I advise you to step aside from this cliff).

Accept or Except

To accept is a verb that means an act of receiving something.

Except is, on the contrary, a conjunction that can be easily substituted with such synonyms as apart from, with the exclusion of, or otherwise than.

Affect or Effect

To affect is a verb, first of all, and it signifies the act of influence or an impact on something.

An effect is a noun and can imply the consequence due to a distinct action.

A Lot or Allot

A lot is a noun phrase that means many.

To allot is a verb that signifies such actions as to dispense or to give.

Among or Amongst

Actually, these two words are identical. The only what plays a part is your desire to communicate after either British or American fashion.

Among is chiefly common in American English, nevertheless, the native speakers understand also British “amongst;” still it would sound a little bit fussy for them.

Bad or Badly

Bad is an adjective meaning “no good.”

Badly is an adverb implying such meaning as wrong, perilously, or in a bad manner (can also intensify the implication of the following adjective).

Borrow or Lend

At first sight, they look like two rather interchangeable words. However, they have slight shade in meaning:

To borrow signifies to give or accept the thing from another one for a short run with the purpose to bring it back later.

When to lend means exceptionally to give something for a short time period with the intension to repay it.

Breath or Breathe

Breath is a noun that demonstrates the condition of inhalation (air gains access into the lungs).

To breathe is a verb meaning this very process of air taking, inhaling and exhaling.

Capital or Capitol

Capital can have various meanings: main city of country where all government is or it can depict a big deal of money, etc.

Capitol is a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out.

Cache or Cash

Cache is a property or wealth, especially when kept in a furtive or difficult of access place.

Cash denotes different forms of money (currency, coins, bills) but not those on a card.

Disinterested or Uninterested

Disinterested – this adjective is used to describe the individual that will not benefit from a situation.

Uninterested – to have a tedious time or not having a want to make something.

Desert or Dessert

Desert or Dessert

A desert is a dry and sandy region (e.g., Sahara desert).

A dessert is a last sweet course of the meal (e.g., cakes, cookies, candies, or even fruits).

Historic or Historical

Historic is an adjective that describes the person or event that are to be considered as famous or influential.

Historical – to be connected with history itself and historical process.

Elicit or Illicit

To elicit means to evoke, to draw forth, find out, or extort some sort of information.

Illicit is an adjective meaning illegal.

Lay or Lie

To lay is an action or process of putting or placing something somewhere.

To lie is the process of reposing in a reclined posture.

Precede or Proceed

To precede is a verb that means to be before in a sense of time, place, or an order.

To proceed means to continue doing something after a pause.

Principal or Principle

A principal is a noun that means a person who is in charge or governs some institution (especially, a school). For instance, it can be a master or a director.

A principle is a doctrine, law, or individual persuasions.

Stationary or Stationery

Stationary is an adjective that describes an unmoving state of something (e.g., stationary accelerator).

A stationery is all writing materials like pens, pencils, papers, and envelops (e.g., I decided to buy a pen in a stationery shop).

Than or Then

Than – the main function of this conjunction is to be used in the comparative sentences (e.g., It’s better to stay at home, than to go out).

Then is an adverb that is commonly used to determine in a sentence a temporal location or to show a sequence of actions or objects.

Who or Whom

Who vs Whom Oatmeal Memes

Who is a subject pronoun that replaces a person or people (e.g., this was Alice who decided to stop the party!).

Whom is an object pronoun used to show the person or object in the direction of which the action is performed (e.g., whom I’m talking to?).

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