Confusing Words in English

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Confusing Words

There are many confusing words in English that might leave perplexed as they might sound the same, but when you spell the word or understand their meaning, they are not the same anymore! Every language comes with its own set of difficult aspects to master. Likewise, the English language is also a unique amalgamation of confusing words that sounds the same or similar but the meanings are different, or with words that share similar (but not identical) meanings that are easy to misuse, when we look into the dictionary. Here are the most commonly confused and misused words in English.

Top 30 Commonly Confusing Words in English

Referred to as Homophones, there are various confusing words in the English language which might be pronounced the same way but are spelt differently and have different meanings. Check out these homophones or commonly confusing words:

Affect vs Effect

Affect vs Effect
Courtesy: Pinterest

Affect is a verb whereas Effect is usually a noun.
Example
Poverty can affect anyone in an economy.
The effect of the recession on the US was pretty drastic. 

Accept vs Except

Accept means to receive whereas Except means to exclude. E.g.,
Example
I accept your invitation with a lot of joy. 
I can eat anything except meat. 

Assure vs Ensure

Assure is to tell someone something positively to dispel any doubts whereas ensure is a verb which means to make things certain of obtaining or providing.
Example
I assure you that I will pass this exam. 
The teacher ensured that this chapter will come in the exam. 

Buy vs By

Buy is a verb whereas by is a preposition. 
Example
I will buy my parents a car. 
‘Game of Thrones’ is a book that is written by George RR. Martin.

Brought vs Bought

Brought is the past tense of the verb bring whereas bought is the past tense of the verb buy. 
Example
I had brought this gift for you. 
I bought these flowers for myself.

Cereal vs Serial

Cereal vs Serial
Courtesy: Wattpad

Cereal is a type of grain whereas serial is something which occurs in a sequence. 
Example
I usually have cereals in my breakfast. 
The serial number for this delivery is located on the bottom of this box.

Complement vs Compliment 

Complement vs Compliment
Courtesy: Quizizz

Complement means that completes something else whereas compliment is a nice thing to say to someone. 
Example
Black and white complement each other quite well. 
John gave a nice compliment for my weight loss. 

While learning these confusing words and their meanings, check out our blog on 50 Difficult Words!

Desert vs. Dessert

Courtesy: Gifer

Desert can either refers to the act of abandoning something or someone or it can also refer to a piece of land with little to no vegetation whereas a dessert is a sweet dish which is usually eaten at the end of a meal. 
Example
The Antarctic desert is the largest in the world. 
The ship captain deserted its passengers on a lone island.
I usually enjoy a good chocolate cake as my dessert

Defence vs Defense 
While both these words have the same meaning, they can be confusing in terms of where they are used. Defense is used in American English whereas defence is used in British English.

Emigrate vs Immigrate

Emigrate is to move away from a city or country to reside in another city or country whereas immigrate means to move to come into a new country. 
Example
My uncle emigrated from India 20 years ago. 
He immigrated to Canada along with his family. 

Further vs Farther 

Further means a metaphorical distance whereas Farther means a physical distance.
Example
Without any further conversation, he started to make his assumptions. 
The nearest hospital was much farther than she thought.

Gray vs Grey
Both of these confusing words have the same meaning. Gray is used in American English whereas grey is used in British English.

Hear vs Here vs Hair

Hear is a verb that refers to the ability to perceive sounds whereas here is an adverb of place. On the other hand, hair is any of the fine threadlike strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and other animals.
Example
I can hear you out aloud. 
You can keep your stuff here and leave. 
I used to have long hair during my childhood. 

It’s vs Its 

Its vs It's
Courtesy: Grammar Stammer Blog

It’s is a short form for it is whereas its is a possessive pronoun that means belonging to it. 
Example
It’s your duty to inform the truth to your parents. 
John is obsessed with this both and its author.

Infer vs Imply

Infer is a verb that refers to the act of deducing whereas imply refers to indicate the truth or existence of something.
Example
With the present facts, we can infer that the GDP is going down. 
I didn’t mean to imply that there was anything wrong with the way you cook. 

Hold On! Take this Grammar Test If You Think You’re a Grammar Nazi!

Knew vs New

Knew is the past tense of the verb know whereas new refers to something fresh, recent and not old.
Example
I knew that she will come late as usual. 
I bought a new dress for her.

Lay vs Lie

Lay is a verb that refers to put (something) down gently or carefully whereas lie means the act of speaking untruthfully.
Example
She laid her baby in a cot. 
I never lie.

Lose vs Loose

Lose is a verb which means to suffer a loss, to be deprived of, to part with whereas loose is an adjective used to describe things that are not tight or contained.
Example
If you will lose money again, you will get a punishment. 
The dress is too loose for my liking.

Lead vs Led

Lead means to guide, conduct, escort, or direct. It also means a type of metal. Led on the other hand is the past tense of the verb lead.
Example
I was chosen to lead my team in this project. 
I led the class in the exam scores.

Piece vs Peace

A piece refers to a portion/part of something whereas peace means freedom from disturbance and tranquillity.
Example
She gave me a piece of cake in the dessert. 
India and China might sign a peace treaty. 

Principle vs Principal

A principle refers to a basic truth, law, or assumption whereas principal refers to the first or foremost.
Example
It’s against my principles to cheat in exams. 
I aspire to become a Principal of this kindergarten school. 

Quiet vs Quite

Quiet refers to the making little or the absence of sound or noise whereas quite refers to something complete.
Example
The examiner asked me to remain quiet in the examination hall. 
I ate quite a lot today.

Right vs Write

Right refers to an adjective which means morally good, justified, or acceptable whereas write is a verb which means to form letters or numbers on a surface with a pen, pencil, etc.
Example
This medicine is not the right for cold. 
I often like to write in my journal these days. 

Here are the Right English Grammar Books You Must be Studying!

Stationary vs Stationery

Stationary means something that is not moving or not in motion, while stationery refers to writing and other office materials.
Example
The bicycle collided with a stationary vehicle on road.
I bought some stationery for my project work. 

Two vs Too vs To

Two refers to number 2. Too refers to also or additional whereas to is a preposition indicating direction.
Example
I own two properties. 
I cannot eat too many rice in one go. 
She went to a new restaurant opened near her house.

Their vs There

Their is a personal pronoun which refers to belonging to or associated with a person or people whereas there is an adverb which refers to in, at, or to that place or position. 
Example
It was their dream to purchase a BMW. 
I am in Saket. You can come and meet me there.

Wait vs Weight

Wait is a verb which means to stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or event whereas weight means how heavy something is.
Example
I will wait for you to come to the coffee shop. 
The weight of this cylinder is more than 12 kgs.

Who’s vs Whose

Who’s is the contraction for who is whereas whose is a possessive form of the pronoun who and which.
Example
I want to know who’s there outside in the dark.
Whose bag is lying on my bed?

Woman vs Women

A woman is singular for female whereas the word women is the plural form of the word woman. 
Example
As a woman, I quite enjoyed Sex and the City TV show.
Those women in that show were crazy.

Your vs You’re

Your and You're
Courtesy: Pinterest

Your is a possessive pronoun which refers to belonging to a person or people that the speaker is addressing whereas you’re is contraception for you are.
Example
I have borrowed your mascara for a minute.
You’re looking fab today with this dress. 

On this note, we end our blog on 30 most confusing words in English. Hope that you must have found this blog informative, fun and useful. Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such educational reads and don’t forget to check out our latest blogs on education, careers and more!

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