Commonly Confused Words Tutorial

March 18, 2019

Commonly Confused Words

English words can be confusing, thus, many students often face difficulties with the words’ meaning and pronunciation. Even such simple words as “Effect/Affect” can bring numerous troubles for writers. You can easily make a mistake once completing an important academic paper, which can lead to a bad grade.

This article is aimed at helping students dealing with commonly confused words and preparing perfect academic papers.

Effect – For example, special effects used in modern movies.

Affect – A result of a certain situation.

List of Commonly Confused Words


Question: Do you need a guide for advice or want to advise something?

Answer: Advice

Hint: Using a concept “advise”, you provide a call-for-action, focusing on something that must be completed. This is the exact situation when you provide useful information or recommendations. There is another related form of the word including “advisor”. It means the person who recommends something or inform other people. In the word “advice”, it is proper to pronounce “C”, when “advise” is pronounced with “Z”.



Question: Appraise goods or stores apprise?

Answer: Appraise

Hint: The word “appraise” means evaluating something, marking a price. In the same time, the word “apprise” means revealing something, providing useful information.



Question: Do people breathe or breath?

Answer: Breathe

Hint: “Breathe” means consuming an air in order to stay alive. This is the process of air consuming into lungs. “Breath” is breathe out (exhaled) air expelled from the lungs. You can find the phrase “unpleasant breath” as well.



Question: What do you need for your company development capitol or capital?

Answer: Capital

Hint: Capital is one of the words with many meanings. It refers to a main city of the country with the authority located, and the money, a certain type of political system, etc. Capitol is the building where politicians meet.



Question: Henry has cited or sighted the material in his essay paper once he caught sight or site of his academic paper?

Answer: Cited; Site

Hint: These words are pronounced the same, thus they often bring troubles. In the same time, they have different meanings. “Cite” means referring to something, placing a quote on sources. “Site” means a place or area, where a certain situation occurs. “Sight” means seeing something or spotting something.



Question: Tomas has received punishment for his actions. Did he get desert or desserts?

Answer: Desert

Hint: “Desert” means to get something deserved. It does not refer to sandy deserts with numerous camels or sweet desserts people adore eating after dinner.



Question: Did Lance emigrate or immigrate to the United States 10 years ago?

Answer: Immigrate

Hint: “Emigrate” means leaving a city or country and move into another place for residence. “Immigrate” means moving into another country from some other place.



Question: The building all of a sudden burst a flair or flare?

Answer: Flare

Hint: “Flare” refers to a bright flame, thus “burst a flare of a sudden” is a common phenomenon. “Flair” means is an exceptional ability for success. The word “flare” is also used when you refer to something extremely original or fashionable. Therefore, dressing “with flare” means choosing a very fashionable cloth.



Question: Do you need to go farther or further away from the city to reach the mountains?

Answer: Further

Hint: These two words refer to a distance. The word “farther” describes literal distances. “Further” refers to both literal and figurative distances.



Question: Amy’s skirt if gray or grey?

Answer: Grey (British) and Gray (American).

Hint: Both of these variants are appropriate depending on the language used. You may use “gray” in the American variant and “grey” in British. If you need to deal with graphic design, make sure to note the UK or USA variant chosen.



Question: Was Mahatma Gandhi a historical or historic famous figure?

Answer: Historical

Hint: These two concepts refer to history, but they have different meanings. “Historic” means some important event in history, when “historical” refers to important figures in history mostly. As an example, the signing of Nagasaki Peace Declaration was an important historic event.



Question: Its or it’s very great to have people you can count on at any circumstances?

Answer: It’s

Hint: The term “it’s” is a combination of “it” and “is”, when “its” is a pronoun that shows a sense of belonging.



Question: Finn learnt or learned geometry in his class today?

Answer:  Learnt (UK) and Learned (USA)

Hint: Both of these variants are appropriate and correct depending on the language used. You may use “learnt” in the American variant and “learned” in British. If you need to write an academic paper, make sure to check in advance what English variant is used – UK or USA.



Question: Was Terry’s shirt too lose or loose?

Answer:  Loose

Hint: The concept “loose” refers to bad style, the situation when something does not fit well. “Lose” means to be unable to find something, to be taken something from you.



Question: Does the waiter pore or pour you some coffee?

Answer:  Pour

Hint: “Pour” means to manage a steady stream of water, coffee, etc. “Pore” refers to a cat or dog’s feet. It also refers to mini openings on your skin.



Question: Was your school principle or principal good to you, when you were studying at the school?

Answer:  Principal

Hint: The noun “principal” refers to a leader of some educational institution. The adjective “principal” means the most important, central. The word “principle” refers to an idea or a strong belief.



Question: Did you run faster than or then your competitors on the local competition?

Answer:  Than

Hint: The word “than” is used when you compare something. “Then” refers to time and arrangements. Since these two words are quite similar, people always face problems with their proper usage.



Question: Do you use their or there recommendations often?

Answer:  Their

Hint: “Their” means belongs to someone. “There” refers to a certain location.



Question: You have spent so much time waiting for him too or to?

Answer:  Too

Hint: The word “too” means you are going the same thing or actions. “To” is the word used to address someone or something.



Question: Hollywood movies often contain torturous or tortuous scenes?

Answer:  Torturous

Hint: The concept “torturous” means the scenes when the description of tortures is used.



Question: Whose or Who’s calling me this early morning?

Answer:  Who’s

Hint: The term “who’s” is a combination of “who” and “is”, when “whose” is a possessive pronoun that shows a sense of belonging.

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