Let's face it, English can be confusing. A lot of words are similar but have 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. Words marked with an asterisk * have confusing pronunciation too, just to make it more fun.

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
*compare vs compere | complement vs compliment
concentrate vs concentrated | confuse vs confess | confused vs confusing | *content | 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 | employer vs employee
enquire vs inquire | enquiry vs inquiry | every day vs everyday
except vs accept | except vs expect | excited vs exciting | excite vs exit | *execute vs executive
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
you're vs your

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.