CONFUSINGLY RELATED WORDS
These are words that cause problems when the speaker is not able to distinguish between them. They are similar in meaning or pronunciation but cannot be used interchangeably. Learn the definition of each and its use before employing it in conversation.
ACCEPT (verb) to take what is given. Professor Perez will accept the chairmanship of the humanities department.
EXCEPT (preposition) excluding or omitting a thing or person. Everyone is going to the convention except Bob, who has to work.
ACCESS (noun) availability, way of gaining entrance. The teachers had no access to the students' files, which were locked in the principal's office.
EXCESS (a) (adjective) abundant, superfluous. We paid a surcharge on our excess baggage. (b) (noun) extra amount. The demand for funds was in excess of the actual need.
ADVICE (noun) opinion given to someone, counseling. If you heed the teacher's advice, you will do well in your studies.
ADVISE (verb) act of giving an opinion or counsel. The Congress advised the president against signing the treaty at that time.
AFFECT (verb) to produce a change in. The doctors wanted to see how the medication would affect the patient.
EFFECT (a) (noun) end result or consequence. The children suffered no ill effect from their long plane ride. (b) (verb) to produce as a result. To effect a change in city government we must all vote on Tuesday.
AGAIN (adverb) repetition of an action, one more time. Mike wrote to the publisher again, inquiring about his manuscript.
AGAINST (preposition) (a) in opposition to someone or something. The athletic director was against our dancing in the new gym. (b) next to, adjacent. The boy standing against the piano is my cousin Bill.
ALREADY (adverb) an action that happened at an indefinite time before the present. Jan's plane had already landed before we got to the airport.
ALL READY (noun + adjective) prepared to do something. We are all ready to go boating.
AMONG (preposition) shows a relationship or selection involving three or more entities. It was difficult to select a winner from among so many contestants.
BETWEEN (preposition) shows a relationship or selection involving only two entities. Between writing her book and teaching, Mary Ellen had little time for anything else. Note: When between is followed by two nouns or noun phrases, the two nouns or noun phrases must be separated by and and never by or.
BESIDE (preposition) next to. There is a small table beside the bed.
BESIDES (preposition or adverb) in addition to, also, moreover. I have five history books here besides the four that I left at home.
ASIDE (adverb) to one side. Harry sets money aside every payday for his daughter's education.
COMPARE (verb) shows similarities. Sue compared her new school with the last one she had attended.
CONTRAST (verb) shows differences. In her composition, Marta chose to contrast life in a big city with that of a small town.
DEVICE (noun) an invention or plan. This is a clever device for cleaning fish without getting pinched by the scales.
DEVISE (verb) invent, create, contrive. The general devised a plan for attacking the enemy camp at night while the soldiers were celebrating.
ELICIT (verb) draw out, evoke. The prosecutor's barrage of questions finally elicited the truth from the witness.
ILICIT (adjective) unlawful. The politician's illicit dealings with organized crime caused him to lose his government position.
EMIGRANT (noun) one who leaves one's own country to live in another. After World War II many emigrants left Europe to go to the United States.
IMMIGRANT (noun) one who comes to a new country to settle. The United States is a country composed of immigrants. Note: The verbs are emigrate and immigrate. It is possible to be both an emigrant and an immigrant at the same time as one leaves one's own country (emigrant) and comes to another country (immigrant) to settle.
EXAMPLE (noun) anything used to prove a point. Picasso's Guernica is an excellent example of expressionism in art.
SAMPLE (noun) a representative part of a whole. My niece loves to go the supermarket because the dairy lady always gives her a sample of cheese.
FORMERLY (adverb) previously. He formerly worked as a professor, but now he is a physicist.
FORMALLY (adverb) (a) an elegant way of dressing, usually a tuxedo for men and a long gown for women. At the resort we were requiring to dress formally for dinner every night. (b) properly, officially. She has formally requested a name change.
HARD (adjective) (a) difficult. Yesterday's test was so hard that nobody passed. (b) opposite of soft. The stadium seats were hard, so we rented a cushion.
HARDLY (adverb) barely, scarcely. He had so much work to do after the vocation that he hardly knew where to begin.
HELPLESS (adjective) unable to remedy (an animate thing is helpless). Because I could not speak their language, I felt helpless trying to understand the tourist' plight.
USELESS (adjective) worthless, unserviceable. An umbrella is useless in a hurricane.
HOUSE (noun) and HOME (noun) are many times used interchangeably, but there exists a difference in meaning. (a) House refers to the building or structure. The Chapmans are building a new house in Buckingham Estates. (b) Home refers to the atmosphere or feeling of
domestic tranquility found in a house. Home is where the heart is.
IMAGINARY (adjective) something not real that exists in one's imagination. Since Ralph has no brothers or sisters, he has created an imaginary playmate.
IMAGINATIVE (adjective) showing signs of great imagination. Star Wars was created by a highly imaginative writer.
IMMORTAL (adjective) incapable of dying. The immortal works of Shakespeare are still being read and enjoyed three centuries after their writing.
IMMORAL (adjective) against the moral law, bad, evil. Their immoral behavior in front of the students cost the teachers their jobs.
IMPLICIT (adjective) understood, but not specifically stated. Our supervisor has implicit faith in our ability to finish this project on time.
EXPLICIT (adjective) expressed in a clear and precise manner. The professor gave explicit instructions for carrying out the research project.
INDUSTRIAL (adjective) pertaining to industry. Paul had an industrial accident and was in the hospital for three months.
INDUSTRIOUS (adjective) diligent, hard working. Mark was such an industrious student that he received a four-year scholarship to the university.
INSPIRATION (noun) stimulation to learn or discover. Thomas A. Edison, inventor of the phonograph, said that an idea was ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.
ASPIRATION (noun) (a) ambition, desire, goal. Gail's lifelong aspiration has been that of becoming a doctor. (b) expulsion of breath. To pronounce certain words, proper aspiration is necessary.
INTELLIGENT (adjective) possessing a great deal of mental ability. Dan was so intelligent that he received good grades without ever having to study.
INTELLIGIBLE (adjective) clear, easily understood. The science teacher's explanations were so intelligible that students had no problems doing their assignments.
INTELLECTUAL (a) (noun) any person who possesses a great deal of knowledge. Because Fabian is an intellectual, he finds it difficult to associate with his classmates who are less intelligent. (b) (adjective) wise. John was involved in an intellectual conversation with his old professor.
INTENSE (adjective) extreme. Last winter's intense cold almost depleted the natural gas supply.
INTENSIVE (adjective) concentrated. Before going to Mexico, Phil took an intensive course in Spanish.
LATE (a) (adjective or adverb) not punctual. Professor Carmichael hates to see his students arrive late. (b) (adjective) no longer living. Her late husband was the author of that book.
LATELY (adverb) recently. I haven't seen Burt lately. He must be extremely busy with his research.
LEARN (verb) obtain knowledge. The new cashier had to learn how to operate the computerized cash register.
TEACH (verb) impart knowledge. The instructor is teaching us how to program computers.
LEND (verb) and LOAN (verb) give something for temporary use with the promise of returning it. (Lend and loan as verbs may be used interchangeably.) Jill loaned (lent) me her red dress to wear to the dance.
BORROW (verb) receive something for temporary use with the promise of returning it. I borrowed Jill's red dress to wear to the dance.
LONELY (adjective) depressed feeling as a result of abandonment or being alone. After her husband's death, Debbie was very lonely and withdrawn.
ALONE (adjective) physical state of solitude, unaccompanied. After losing in the Olympic tryouts, Phil asked to be left alone.
NEAR (preposition or adverb) used to indicate a place not too far distant. My biology class meets near the Student Union.
NEARLY (adverb) almost. We were nearly hit by the speeding car on the turnpike.
PRECEDE (verb) to come before. Weather Service warnings preceded the hurricane.
PROCEED (verb) continue an action after a rest period or interruption. After the fire drill, the teacher proceeded to explain the experiment to the physics class.
QUANTITY (noun) used with non-count nouns to indicate amount, bulk. A large quantity of sand was removed before the archeologists found the prehistoric animal bones.
NUMBER (noun) used with count nouns to designate individual amount. A number of artifacts were found at the excavation site.
REMEMBER (verb) to recall or think of again. I do not remember what time he asked me to call. You don't remember me, do you?
REMIND (verb) to cause (someone) to remember, to bring into (someone's) mind. Please, remind me to call Henry at 7 o'clock tonight. Henry reminds me of my uncle.
SENSIBLE (adjective) having good judgment. When it is raining hard, sensible people stay indoors.
SENSITIVE (adjective) excitable, touchy, easily affected by outside influences. Stephen cannot be out in the sun very long because he has very sensitive skin and burns easily.
SPECIAL (adjective) that which receives a lot of attention because of a distinct characteristic. Meyer's Department Store will have a special sale for their charge customers.
ESPECIALLY (adverb) particularly. Rita is especially talented in the fine arts. She has a special talent for playing music by ear.
USE (noun) act of putting into practice or service, application. The salesman said that regular use of fertilizer would ensure greener, healthier lawn.
USAGE (noun) way in which something is used. Norm Crosby's usageof English vocabulary in his comedy routine is hilarious.