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Commonly Confused Words Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Introduction

There are hundreds of word pairs that either sound similar, are spelled similarly, or have similar meanings, causing them to be confused or misused. This lesson outlines the most commonly confused words and provides you with tips for using the correct words in your writing.

THERE ARE MANY commonly confused words which, although they are not homonyms, have similarities that cause them to be mistaken for one another. Many of these confusing words sound similar but are quite different in meaning. The words accept and except, for example, which sound almost alike, mean entirely different things and are not at all interchangeable. Accept means to recognize or to receive willingly; except means to exclude. As you can see, the words have two very different meanings. So, if you use accept when you mean except, you are not conveying your message accurately.

Some words are confusing because different prefixes give them different meanings. For example, disinterested and uninterested (defined in the list that follows), mean two very different things.

In fact, your writing suffers whenever you misuse words. If you use words incorrectly on a college application, for example, you could ruin your chances of being accepted.

In order to ensure that you are using the correct word, you must know its meaning.

TIP: Pay attention to the meaning of every word you use in your writing and in your speaking. If you are unsure whether or not the word you are using is correct, look it up in the dictionary or refer to the list of commonly confused words in this lesson.

List of Commonly Confused Words 

The following list contains some of the most commonly confused word pairs, along with a very brief definition of each word. As you read through the list, make note of any words that you misuse frequently.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Commonly Confused Words Practice Exercises

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