English Language Commonly Confused Words

Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by admin

English Language tends to be difficult for non-native speakers. Many people often struggle to understand how to use it, probably because many words are related to each other. And most times very confusing.

This is a list of English language commonly confused words put together to help English language learners and speakers.

WORD PAIR DESCRIPTION
Abut
About
Generally, use “abut,” a verb, when you mean “to border” or “to lie next to.” Use “about,” an adverb, when you mean “almost” or “nearly.”
Adept
Adapt
Generally, use “adept,” an adjective, when you mean “skilled.” Use “adapt,” a verb, when you mean “to adjust.”
Adepts
Adopts
Use “adopts,” a verb, when you mean ” takes in,” ” takes up,” or “votes for.” “Adepts” is always incorrect.
Ads
Adds
Use “ads,” a noun, when you mean advertisements. Use “adds,” a verb, when you mean “combines” or “expands.”
Advice
Advise
Generally, use “advice,” a noun, when you mean “suggestion” or “guidance”—for example, “The manager gave Jenny advice.” Use “advise,” a verb, when you mean “to suggest” or “to give advice to”—for example, “Will you advise me before I go into the meeting?”
Aid
Aide
Generally, use “aid,” a noun or verb, when you mean “help” or “assistance.” Use “aide,” a noun, when you mean “a helper.”
Ail
Ale
Generally, use “ail,” a verb, when you mean “to feel unwell” or “to have pain.” Use “ale,” a noun, when you mean a type of drink.
Alters
Altars
Use “alters,” a verb, when you mean “changes.” Use “altars,” a noun, when you are referring to tables used in religious ceremonies.
Assess
Asses
Use “assess,” a verb, when you mean “to evaluate.” Use “asses,” a plural noun, when you are referring to the animal.
Augur
Auger
Use “augur,” a noun or verb, when you mean a prophet or the act of prophesying—for example, “He has traits that augur well for his success.” Use “auger,” a noun, when you are referring to the tool.

 

Bare
Bear
Generally, use “bare,” which can be an adjective or verb, when you mean “undressed,” “simple,” or “to reveal.” Use “bear,” which can be a noun or a verb, when you mean the animal or “to support” or “to produce.”
Beet
Beat
Use “beet,” a noun, when you mean the plant. Use “beat,” a verb or a noun, when you mean “to hit,” “to win,” or a rhythm.
Bettor
Better
Use “bettor,” a noun, when you mean a person who bets. Use “better,” which can be a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb, when you mean “superior” or “to improve.”
Border
Boarder
Use “border,” a noun or verb, when you mean “edge” or “to be alongside of.” Use “boarder,” a noun, when you mean a paying guest.
Breath
Breathe
Generally, use “breath,” a noun, when you mean the process of breathing, inhalation, or exhalation—for example, “She took a deep breath.” Use “breathe,” a verb, when you mean “to inhale and exhale”—for example, “Breathe deeply and smell the lilacs.”
Bridal
Bridle
Use “bridal,” an adjective, when you are referring to a wedding. Generally, use “bridle,” a noun, when you mean “a harness.” Use “bridle,” a verb, when you mean “to harness” or “to show resentment”—for example, “she bridled at the suggestion.”
Broach
Brooch
Use “broach” as a noun when you are referring to the tool or as a verb when you mean “to bring up” or “to pierce.” Use “brooch,” a noun, when you mean a pin or clasp.
Brows
Browse
Use “brows,” a noun, when you mean the eyebrows. Use “browse,” a verb, when you mean “to scan through.”

 

Callous
Callus
Generally, use “callous,” an adjective, when you mean “unfeeling.” Use “callus,” a noun or verb, when you mean a thickened part of the skin or to develop a thickened part of the skin.
Cant
Can’t
Use “cant,” a noun, when you mean “slope” or a type of speech. Use “can’t,” a contraction, when you mean “cannot.”
Cloth
Clothe
Use “cloth,” a noun, when you mean “fabric.” Use “clothe,” a verb, when you mean “to dress.”
Confident
Confidant
Use “confident,” an adjective, when you mean “assured”—for example, “She is confident she will get the promotion.” Use “confidant,” a noun, when you mean “friend”—for example, “He is her only confidant.”

 

Decent
Descent
Use “decent,” an adjective, when you mean “proper” or “adequate.” Use “descent,” a noun, when you mean “a slope” or “a downward motion.”
Dependent
Dependant
Use “dependent,” an adjective or noun, in the context of relying on someone or something. Use “dependant” only as an alternative spelling of the noun form.
Desert
Dessert
Generally, use “desert,” a noun or verb, when you mean a type of land or “to abandon.” Use “dessert,” a noun, when you mean a class of food.
Dingy
Dinghy
Use “dingy,” an adjective, when you mean “dirty” or “worn.” Use “dinghy,” a noun, when you mean a type of boat.
Dominant
Dominate
Generally, use “dominant,” an adjective, when you mean “most influential” or “prominent.” Use “dominate,” a verb, when you mean “to control” or “to rule over.”
Downwards
Downward
Use “downward,” an adverb or adjective, when you mean “descending” or “declining”—for example, “We do not see a downward trend in sales.” Use “downwards” only as an adverb when you mean “descending” or “declining.”

 

Elicit
Illicit
Use “elicit,” a verb, when you mean “to obtain.” Use “illicit,” an adjective, when you mean “illegal.”
Envelop
Envelope
Use “envelop,” a verb, when you mean “to enclose completely.” Use “envelope,” a noun, when you mean a type of container.
Extant
Extent
Use “extant,” an adjective, when you mean “still in existence.” Use “extent,” a noun, when you mean “the range or area that a thing covers.”
Faze
Phase
Use “faze,” a verb, when you mean “to disturb.” Use “phase,” a noun, when you mean “a certain stage or condition.”

 

Feat
Feet
Use “feat,” a noun, when you mean “an act of courage or achievement.” Use “feet,” a noun, when you are referring to a part of a body, the lower end of an object, or a unit of measurement.
Find
Fined
Use “find,” a verb or noun, when you mean “to locate,” “to detect,” or “a discovery.” Use “fined,” a verb, when you mean having been required to pay an amount of money.
Flare
Flair
Use “flare,” a verb or noun, when you mean “to flame up” or “a blaze of light.” Use “flair,” a noun, when you mean “talent”—for example, “He has a flair for decorating.”
Flea
Flee
Use “flea,” a noun, when you are referring to the insect. Use “flee,” a verb, when you mean “to run away.”
Forebear
Forbear
Use “forbear,” a verb or noun, when you mean “to resist,” “to stop,” or “an ancestor.” Use “forebear” only as a noun when you mean “an ancestor.”

 

Gong
Going
Use “gong,” a noun or verb, when you are referring to a type of musical instrument or to playing that instrument. Use “going,” a verb, when you mean “leaving,” “proceeding,” or “working.”
Grate
Great
Use “grate,” a verb or noun, when you mean “to shred,” “to irritate,” or “a structure made of metal bars.” Use “great,” an adjective, when you mean “big,” “important,” or “outstanding.”
Grater
Greater
Use “grater,” a noun, when you mean a tool. Use “greater,” an adjective, when you mean “bigger” or “more important.”
Herd
Heard
Use “herd,” a noun or verb, when you mean “to flock” or “to assemble.” Use “heard,” a verb, when you mean perceiving sound or “listening.”
Hew
Hue
Use “hew,” a verb, when you mean “to cut”—for example, “The workers will hew a new trail to the waterfall.” Use “hue,” a noun, when you are referring to color or appearance—for example, “The hue of the silk dress was a delicate blue.”
Hoard
Horde
Use “hoard,” a noun or verb, when you mean “riches” or “to accumulate.” Use “horde,” a noun, when you mean “a large crowd.”
Hostel
Hostile
Use “hostel,” a noun, when you mean a type of lodging. Use “hostile,” an adjective or noun, when you mean “unfriendly” or “one who is unfriendly.”

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Incite
Insight
Use “incite,” a verb, when you mean “to urge” or “to stimulate”—for example, “Her speech will incite them into action.” Use “insight,” a noun, when you mean “perceptiveness” or “understanding”—for example, “Their insight into the situation was very useful.”
Indoor
Indoors
Use “indoor,” an adjective, to modify a noun or pronoun, as in “indoor pool.” Use “indoors,” an adverb, to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, as in “walked indoors.”
Inward
Inwards
Use “inward,” an adjective, to modify a noun or pronoun, as in “inward chamber.” Use “inwards,” an adverb, to modify an adjective, verb, or other adverb, as in “go inwards.”
Its
It’s
Use “its,” a pronoun, when you are indicating possession, as in “its branches.” Use “it’s,” a contraction, when you mean “it is”—for example, “It’s a long way to the station.”
Laps
Lapse
Use “laps,” a noun or verb, when you mean “to drink,” “the motions of waves,” or “to overlap.” Use “lapse,” a noun or verb, when you mean “to decline” or “to revert.”
Lessens
Lessons
Use “lessens,” a verb, when you mean “decreases.” Generally, use “lessons,” a noun, when you mean “instructions.”
Let’s
Lets
Use “let’s,” a contraction, when you mean “let us.” Use “lets,” a verb, when you mean “allows” or “rents.”
Loath
Loathe
Use “loath,” an adjective, when you mean “unwilling” or “afraid”—for example, “Although he was loath to apologize, he did it.” Use “loathe,” a verb, when you mean “to dislike”—for example, “The only vegetable they loathe is okra.”
Mane
Main
Use “mane” when you are referring to a part of a horse or other animal. Use “main,” an adjective or noun, when you mean “most important” or “most important point.”
Mind
Mined
Use “mind,” a noun or verb, when you mean “intellect,” “sense,” or “to obey.” Use “mined,” a verb, when you mean “tunneled” or “excavated.”
Miner
Minor
Use “miner,” a noun, when you mean a type of worker. Generally, use “minor,” an adjective or noun, when you mean “lesser” or “a child.”
Mite
Might
Use “mite,” a noun, when you mean the animal or an amount of money. Use “might,” a noun or a verb, when you mean “strength” or “a sense of possibility.”
Moral
Morale
Use “moral,” an adjective or noun, when you mean “virtuous,” or “a kind of truth.” Use “morale,” a noun, when you mean “a group’s attitude.”
Morn
Mourn
Use “morn,” a noun, when you mean the morning. Use “mourn,” a verb, when you mean “to express sorrow.”
No
Know
Use “no,” an adjective or adverb, when you mean a denial or “not any.” Use “know,” a verb, when you mean “to recognize,” “to understand,” or “to experience.”

 

Of
Have
Use “of” as a preposition—for example, “The scarves were made of silk.” Use “have” as a verb—for example, “The silk scarves have embroidered flowers.”
Outdoor
Outdoors
Use “outdoor,” an adjective, to modify a noun. Use “outdoors,” an adverb, to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
Outwards
Outward
Use “outward,” an adjective or adverb, when you mean “outer.” Use “outwards” only as an adverb when you mean “outer” or “toward the outside.”
Peddle
Pedal
Use “peddle,” a verb, when you mean “to sell.” Use “pedal,” a noun or verb, when you mean a part of an instrument or machine or to operate with pedals—for example, “The pedal on the bicycle broke.”
Populace
Populous
Use “populace,” a noun, when you are referring to people. Use “populous,” an adjective, when you mean “numerous” or “crowded.”
Pray
Prey
Use “pray,” a verb, when you mean “to ask” or “to plead.” Use “prey,” a noun, when you mean a hunted animal or a victim.
Pride
Pried
Generally, use “pride,” a noun or verb, when you mean “self-respect” or “to be proud.” Use “pried,” a verb, when you mean “to inquire too closely” or “to force open.”
Principal
Principle
Use “principal,” an adjective or noun, when you mean “main,” “the main participant,” or “the head of a school.” Use “principle,” a noun, when you mean a rule or a standard.
Prophesy
Prophecy
Use “prophesy,” a verb, when you mean “to predict”—for example, “He says he can prophesy the future.” Use “prophecy,” a noun, when you mean “prediction”—for example, “The prophecy came true.”
Prostate
Prostrate
Use “prostate,” a noun, when you are referring to the gland. Use “prostrate,” a verb or adjective, when you mean “to bow down” or “lying down.”

 

Rote
Wrote
Use “rote,” a noun, when you are referring to a type of speaking. Use “wrote,” a verb, when you mean “having formed letters or words.”
Stationary
Stationery
Use “stationary,” an adjective, when you mean “not moving”—for example, “The weather front was stationary.” Use “stationery,” a noun, when you mean “writing paper.”
Team
Teem
Use “team,” a noun or verb, when you mean “group” or “to form a team.” Use “teem,” a verb, when you mean “to overflow” or “to swarm.”
That’s
Thats
Use “that’s,” a contraction, when you mean “that is.” “Thats” is always incorrect.
Their
There
They’re
Use “their,” an adjective, when you are indicating possession, as in “their house.” Use “there,” an adverb, when you are referring to a particular location, time, or action—for example, “Sit over there.” Use “they’re,” a contraction, when you mean “they are”—for example, “They’re coming home tomorrow.”
Theirs
Their’s
Use “theirs,” a pronoun, when you are indicating possession. “Their’s” is always incorrect.
Tide
Tied
Use “tide,” a noun, when you are referring to the rise and fall of the ocean. Use “tied,” a verb, when you mean “bound” or “connected.”
Undo
Undue
Use “undo,” a verb, when you mean “to reverse” or “to open.” Use “undue,” an adjective, when you mean “excessive” or “not proper.”
Upwards
Upward
Use “upward,” an adjective or adverb, when you mean “overhead,” “above,” or “toward a higher place”—for example, “There was an upward trend in the stock market today.” Use “upwards” only as an adverb when you mean “toward a higher place”—for example, “She looked upwards.”
Urn
Earn
Use “urn,” a noun, when you mean “vase.” Use “earn,” a verb, when you mean “to acquire” or “to gain.”
Vein
Vain
Use “vein,” a noun, when you are referring to a blood vessel, a fissure, or a mood. Use “vain,” an adjective, when you mean “fruitless” or “proud.”
Who’s
Whose
Use “who’s,” a contraction, when you mean “who is.” Use “whose,” a pronoun, to indicate possession—for example, “Whose books are these?”
Wile
While
Use “wile,” a noun or verb, when you mean “trick” or “to trick.” Generally, use “while,” a noun or verb, when you are referring to time or an interval of time.
Wither
Whither
Use “wither,” a verb, when you mean “to shrivel up” or “to fade.” Use “whither,” an adverb, when you mean “to what place or condition.”
Won’t
Wont
Use “won’t,” a contraction, when you mean “will not.” Generally, use “wont,” an adjective, when you mean “accustomed to” or “likely”—for example, “He is wont to do these things.”
Yolk
Yoke
Use “yolk”, a noun, when you are referring to a part of an egg. Use “yoke,” a noun or verb, when you mean a type of harness or “to harness.”
You’re
Your
Use “you’re,” a contraction, when you mean “you are.” Use “your” when you are indicating possession, as in “your garden.”

This list English language commonly confused words is purely for educational purposes.