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Easily confused words – 1

OdkazyMoje EUO

There are many words in English that can be a bit difficult due to the fact that they either sound the same but that a little change in spelling makes a lot of difference to the meaning, or that they seem international in meaning but their meaning in English might sometimes be a bit shifted, if not completely different.

Let's have a look at some that give the most trouble to students taking international English exams.


Advise is a verb that means “to offer opinion or counsel“.

One advises others and receives advice.

Advice is a noun that refers to the information you receive when someone advises you.

He needs your advice. Please call him as soon as possible.


Accept is a verb that means “to receive with approval” or “to agree with”.

Except is a preposition that means “excluding” or “but”.

I accept all of your conditions except this one.


Affect is a verb that means “to influence”.

Can one person affect the course of human history?

Effect is a noun that means “a result or consequence”.

The effects of the medication could be seen immediately.


Capital is a noun that means “financial resources”.

Capitol is a noun for the building or buildings where a government meets.

Large amounts of capital are needed to finance the reconstruction of the nation's capitol.

Be careful!

Capital is also a noun or adjective commonly used to describe the most important city in a country or region.

Cairo, London, and Paris are all capital cities.

Capital can also be an adjective that means “very, very serious”.

Most people oppose capital punishment.


Respectably is an adverb that means “in a manner worthy of esteem or respect.”

Jim is respectably skilled for his age.

Respectively is an adverb that refers to items in a series and means “in the order named”.

John, Tom, and Michael, respectively, will present their reports to the committee.


Basis is a singular noun that means “the thing that supports something, especially an argument.”

There is no basis for his argument.

Bases is the plural of base, a noun that means “the bottom of something, the part that provides support for something.”

The difference is that basis refers to intangible things, like ideas or arguments, while base refers to physical things, like tables or buildings.

The base of the lamp was round and blue.


Desert is a noun that means “a large area of land that has very little water and very few plants growing in it”.

The story took place in a desert.

Dessert, of course, is a noun that means “any sweet food eaten at the end of a meal.”

I always eat ice cream for dessert.


Principal is an adjective that means “most important or influential”.

Our manager's principal concern is our work productivity.

Principle is a noun that means “a fundamental rule, belief, or truth”.

Your actions should be consistent with your principles.


Tale is a noun that means “a story, often one that is easy to read or understand”.

This is not a tale to be told when children are here.

Tail is a noun that means “the movable part at the end of the body of a bird, an animal or a fish”.

Dogs wag their tails when they are happy.


Personnel is a noun that means “the people employed in an organization; the staff”.

You need to ask the personnel department about it.

Personal is an adjective that means “belonging to an individual person rather than to a group or organization”, or “not part of one's public or professional life; private”.

This car is for your personal use only.


Talking about the weather as a way for good small talk is clear.

Whether means if.

I wanted to know whether you would cooperate.


Spelling is not easy and sometimes it's worse than a nightmare! Is the right word ACCIDENTLY, ACCIDENTALY or ACCIDENTALLY?

Let's have a look at some most often misspelled words…

ACCIDENTALLY come from ACCIDENTAL and as an adverb it takes on –LY. Some people think the word from which it is formed is only ACCIDENT or they forget about another L.

UNTIL has only one L. TILL has two.

RHYTHM is a real problem. It is a Greek by its origin, so it also keeps its unusual spelling.

QUESTIONNAIRE is a French word, which is clear from its spelling. French words always make it difficult for all of us. LIAISON and OCCASION (never mind occasionally)

POSSESSION possesses quite a lot of s's, doesn't it?

MILLENNIUM also has some doubled letters. There are more words like this: ACCOMMODATE, DRUNKENNESS, EMBARRASS or OCCURRENCE.

ARGUMENT gives a lot of trouble. The verb is ARGUE, but while forming the noun, the final E somehow disappeared. It's just silent.

NOTICEABLE shows that sometimes this final E is not dropped. And there is also CHANGEABLE.

CONSCIENTIOUS is also not easy. And its adverb CONSCIENTIOUSLY would easily make it into the top ten troublesome words to spell.

MAINTENANCE is a typical spell twister.

TWELFTH, which is the easy 12th, has only one vowel for 7 letters!

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