The following list of commonly confused words should be extremely useful for anybody writing in English. A similar list has been compiled by Oxford Dictionaries. It can be accessed through the link below. In fact, our list below is based on a previous list of theirs.DO NOT CONFUSEadoptive
: children are adopted
, but parents are adoptive
, 'unfavourable, bad', with averse
, which means 'strongly disliking or opposed to', as in I am not averse to helping out.affect
means 'make a difference to', whereas effect
means 'a result' or 'bring about (a result)'.
primarily means 'having more than one meaning, open to different interpretations', while ambivalent
means 'having mixed feelings'.
means 'not concerned with morality', while immoral
means 'not conforming to accepted standards of morality'.
means 'assess', while apprise
, 'be a sign of (a likely outcome)', with auger
(a tool used for boring).
means 'express strong disapproval of', whereas censor
means 'suppress unacceptable parts of (a book, film, etc.)'.
, 'forming a climax', with climatic
, which means 'relating to climate'.
, 'smug and self-satisfied', with complaisant
, which means 'willing to please'.
, 'a thing that enhances something by contributing extra features', with compliment
, which means 'an expression of praise' or 'politely congratulate'.
primarily means 'without interruption', and can refer to space as well as time, as in the cliffs form a continuous line along the coast
, on the other hand, typically means 'happening frequently, with intervals between', as in the bus service has been disrupted by continual breakdowns
, an administrative or advisory body, with counsel
, advice or guidance.
: a councillor
is a member of a council, whereas a counsellor
is someone who gives guidance on personal or psychological problems.
means 'believable, convincing', whereas creditable
means 'deserving acknowledgement and praise'.
('certain, sure') with definitive
, which means 'decisive and with authority'.
, 'remove the fuse from (an explosive device)' or 'reduce the danger or tension in (a difficult situation)', with diffuse
, which means 'spread over a wide area'.
(a waterless area) with dessert
(the sweet course)!
, 'careful not to attract attention or give offence', with discrete
, which means 'separate, distinct'.
. In British English draft
means 'a preliminary version' or 'an order to pay a sum', whereas a draught
is a current of air or an act of drinking; in North American English the spelling draft
is used for all senses. The verb is usually spelled draft
, which is primarily a verb, with drawer
meaning 'sliding storage compartment'.
: it is egotism
, not egoism
, that means 'excessive conceit or self-absorption'; egoism
is a less common and more technical word, for an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.
without an e
at the end means 'wrap up, cover, or surround completely', whereas an envelope
with an e
is a paper container used to enclose a letter or document.
('open to objection; causing disapproval or offence') with exceptional
('not typical' or 'unusually good').
: a fawn
is a young deer, and a light brown colour; a faun
is a Roman deity that is part man, part goat.
means 'display ostentatiously', while flout
means 'openly disregard (a rule)'.
generally means 'have trouble doing or understanding something, be confused', while founder
means 'fail or come to nothing'.
means 'precede', but is also a less common spelling for forgo
, 'go without'.
, as in grizzly bear
means 'causing horror or revulsion', whereas grizzly
is from the same root as grizzled
and refers to the bear's white-tipped fur.
: a hoard
is a store of something valuable; horde
is a disparaging term for a large group of people.
is used with a speaker as its subject, as in he implied that the General was a traitor
, and indicates that the speaker is suggesting something though not making an explicit statement. Infer
is used in sentences such as we inferred from his words that the General was a traitor
, and indicates that something in the speaker's words enabled the listeners to deduce that the man was a traitor.
the possessive its
(as in turn the camera on its side
) with the contraction it's
(short for either it is
or it has
, as in it's my fault
; it's been a hot day
('reluctant; unwilling') with loathe
, 'dislike greatly'.
: as a verb loose
means 'unfasten or set free', while lose
means 'cease to have' or 'become unable to find'.
, 'rich and profuse in growth', with luxurious
, which means 'characterized by luxury; very comfortable and extravagant'.
, 'of marriage', with martial
, 'of war'!
, which is used in the form militate against
to mean 'be an important factor in preventing', with mitigate
, which means 'make (something bad) less severe'.
(nudism) and naturist
(a nudist) with naturalism
is an artistic or literary approach or style; a naturalist
is an expert in natural history, or an exponent of naturalism.
, 'asserting authority or interfering in an annoyingly domineering way', with official
, which means 'relating to an authority or public body' and 'having the approval or authorization of such a body'.
, 'an authoritative order', with ordnance
, which means 'guns' or 'munitions'.
: the palate
is the roof of the mouth; a palette
, on the other hand, is an artist's board for mixing colours.
is a noun denoting a foot-operated lever; as a verb it means 'move by means of pedals'. Peddle
is a verb meaning 'sell (goods)'. The associated noun from pedal
or AmE pedaler
), and the noun from peddle
: a perquisite
is a special right or privilege enjoyed as a result of one's position; prerequisite
is something that is required as a prior condition for something else; prerequisite
can also be an adjective, meaning 'required as a prior condition'.
, 'expressing things clearly', with perspicacious
, which means 'having a ready understanding of things'.
, 'first in order of importance; main', with principle
, which is a noun meaning chiefly 'a basis of a system of thought or belief'.
is a rather formal word meaning 'condemn or forbid', whereas prescribe
means either 'issue a medical prescription' or 'recommend with authority'.
, 'feeling or showing regret', with regrettable
, which means 'giving rise to regret; undesirable'.
, 'cut the wool off (a sheep)', with sheer
, which as a verb means 'swerve or change course quickly' or 'avoid an unpleasant topic', and as an adjective means 'nothing but; absolute', 'perpendicular', or '(of a fabric) very thin'.
is an adjective with the sense 'not moving or changing', whereas stationery
is a noun meaning 'paper and other writing materials'.
: a story
is a tale or account, while a storey
is a floor of a building. In North America the spelling story
is sometimes used for storey
means 'excite', whereas titivate
means 'adorn or smarten up'.
, 'full of twists and turns' or 'excessively lengthy and complex', with torturous
, which means 'characterized by pain or suffering'.
is generally used in reference to a liquid and means 'cloudy or opaque'; turgid
tends to mean 'tediously pompous' or, in reference to a river, 'swollen, overflowing'.
, 'that cannot be taken exception to, inoffensive', with unexceptional
, 'not exceptional; ordinary'.
means 'not enjoying the company of or engaging in activities with others'; unsocial
usually means 'socially inconvenient' and typically refers to the hours of work of a job; antisocial
means 'contrary to accepted social customs and therefore annoying'.
('susceptible to bribery; corruptible') with venial
, which is used in Christian theology in reference to sin (a venial
sin, unlike a mortal
sin, is not regarded as depriving the soul of divine grace).
is a contraction of who is
or who has
, while whose
is used in questions such as whose is this?
and whose turn is it?wreath
with no e
at the end means 'arrangement of flowers', while wreathe
with an e
is a verb meaning 'envelop, surround, or encircle'.