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English Pronunciation Books
English Vocabulary Books

Common Mistakes and Confusing Words in English

Let's face it, English can be confusing. A lot of words are similar but with different meanings, as a result it is almost impossible to avoid making mistakes in English, but if you can get your head around these explanations, you might be able to avoid making these ones or at least recognise them when you see them.

accept vs except | accessary vs accessory | advice vs advise
affect vs effect | a lot/alot/allot
all ready vs already | all right vs alright | allude vs elude | alone vs lonely
altogether vs all together | ambivalent vs indifferent
any vs some | any one vs anyone
apart vs a part | around vs round | assume vs know vs think
astrology vs astronomy | at vs in
bald vs bold | been vs gone | beside vs besides
bold vs bald | bored vs boring | borrow vs lend
bought vs brought | by vs until
capital vs capitol | captivate vs capture
career vs carrier vs courier | certain vs curtain
check vs control | close vs closed | close vs shut
collage vs college | come over vs overcome
complement vs compliment
concentrate vs concentrated | confuse vs confess | council vs counsel
councillor vs counsellor | curious vs interesting | curtain vs certain
data vs datum | decent vs descent | decision vs division
defrost vs melt | desperate vs disparate | destroy vs destruct
discreet vs discrete | division vs decision | do or make
don't have to vs mustn't
| dose vs doze | downside vs underside
draught vs drought | dress up vs get dressed | driving test vs test drive
drought vs draught
effect vs affect | e.g. or i.e. | -er vs -re | either or vs neither nor
either vs as well / too
enquire vs inquire | enquiry vs inquiry
every day vs everyday | except vs accept | except vs expect | excited vs exciting
expand vs expend | expect vs except | experience vs experience(s) | extra vs surplus
fewer vs less
| for vs since (time) | full stop vs period | get dressed vs dress up
good vs well | going out vs outgoing | gone vs been
hard vs hardly | hear vs listen | heroin vs heroine | he's vs his
holiday vs the weekend | holy vs holly | homework vs housework
hope vs wish | "How do you do?" vs "How are you?"
I vs me | immunity vs impunity | improve vs improvise | impunity vs immunity
inquire vs enquire | inquiry vs enquiry
interested vs interesting | interesting vs curious
know vs assume vs think | know vs now
later vs latter | lay vs lie | lay down vs lie down | leaped vs leapt
learn vs teach | less vs fewer | live vs stay
look after vs look for | look at vs watch
look forward(s) vs look forward to
look over vs overlook | loose vs lose
massage vs message | me vs I | me vs my | moan vs mourn
moral vs morale | most vs the most | most vs mostly | mourn vs moan | my vs me
neither | nor vs or | now vs know
ointment | ornament | or vs nor
outgoing vs going out
| outgoings vs outgoing
overlook vs look over | overrun vs run over | overtake vs takeover / take over / of vs off
of course vs off course | pass away vs pass out | period vs full stop
personal vs personnel | practice vs practise
precede vs proceed | principal vs principle
proceed vs precede | probably vs properly
quiet vs quite
raise/rise | -re vs -er | regard vs regardless vs regards | remainder vs reminder
remember vs remind | replay vs reply | round vs around | run over vs overrun
said vs told | say vs talk | say vs tell | scared vs scary
see vs watch | shortage vs shortness | shut vs close
so vs such | some vs any | some time vs sometime vs sometimes
sooth vs soothe | stationary vs stationery | stay vs live | stick vs sticker | strange vs stranger
stuff vs things | such vs so | surplus vs extra
take care vs take care of | takeover / take over vs overtake
talk vs say | teach vs learn
tell vs say | than vs then | that / which / who
then vs than | think vs assume vs know
told vs said | to/too/two | there/their/they're | things vs stuff
trainer vs trainee | travel/trip/voyage/journey
us vs we | used to vs used to do
wander vs wonder | warn vs worn | watch vs look at
watch vs see | we vs us | what vs which
wish vs hope | who vs which vs that
who vs whom | wrong vs wrongly

Tests and Quizzes

 


Tests and Quizzes

Test yourself to see if you understand the correct use of some of the more confusing words and terms.

 

If you know of any other common mistakes like these, let us know.

If nothing else this should make you feel better to know that mistakes are also made by people who should know better:-

Click here for a list of common American English and British English differences

Click here for a collection of real horror mistakes made by some of the best known companies in the world.

Click here for a collection of howlers from around the world.

Click here for a collection of medical howlers.

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