Confusing Words Study Guide (page 2)
This study guide focuses on two categories of words: those frequently confused and those frequently abused.
Learning new vocabulary is intense work. This lesson provides a break by concentrating on two common vocabulary problems.
- Confused words. The English language is full of confusing word pairs—they sound similar but mean different things. How can you avoid being confused? Find out here.
- Abused words. Because it has inherited words from dozens of other languages, English is probably the richest language in the world. So why do we keep on using the same old words over and over again? Here you'll find out which words you probably use way too often.
Words That Confuse
Following is a list of some word pairs that are frequently confused. Pay close attention to the sample sentences in which they're used. Seeing a word used properly can help you acquire it for your own vocabulary.
|1.||adopt. To accept as one's own.|
|adapt. To adjust to or become accustomed to; to modify.|
|My family decided to adopt a puppy to be a companion to our old dog.|
|The puppy adapted to our family very easily; she loved all the other animals.|
|2.||all together. A group of things or persons gathered together.|
|altogether. Entirely, completely.|
|Our pets, all together, resemble a very zany zoo.|
|My mom is not altogether in agreement that we should now get an ostrich.|
|3.||complement. Something that is added in, that contributes.|
|compliment. A remark that pleases or flatters someone.|
|The new puppy complemented our collection of both old and young pets.|
|The veterinarian complimented us on our amazing menagerie of pets.|
|4.||continuous. Occurring without interruption.|
|continual. Happening repeatedly, over and over again.|
|The pets provide continuous joy to all of us; they are so sweet and loving.|
|Trips to the vet are a continual problem; one of the animals always needs care.|
|5.||everyone. A pronoun that describes a group; everybody in the group.|
|every one. The specific individuals in a group.|
|Everyone in the family shares in the care of the pets.|
|Every one of us has a favorite pet.|
|6.||maybe. Possibly, perhaps.|
|may be. A verb phrase suggesting something might or might not be.|
|Maybe we have too many pets, but is that even possible?|
|It may be that once the kids go to college, our parents will want even more pets.|
Words That Get Abused
Here are some of the most frequently abused words—ones used incorrectly you can easily use correctly if you pay careful attention to their meanings.
- being that. These words are incorrect when used as a phrase.
- Being that I love animals, I'm planning to become a vet. (incorrect usage)
- Being an animal lover, I plan to become a vet. (correct)
- hopeful. An adjective that describes someone full of hope. hopefully. An adverb that means doing something with hope.
- I am hopeful that my grades will get me into vet school. (correct)
- Hopefully I'll do well in school. (incorrect) I am studying hopefully, and working as hard as I can. (correct)
- regardless. Without taking into account. Note: there is no such word as irregardless.
- Irregardless of my grades, my experience with animals should help. (incorrect)
- Regardless of my grades, my experience with animalsshould help. (correct)
- like. A preposition that introduces the idea of similarity as. An adverb that suggests similarity, or in the same manner
- A donkey's hee-haw is like an alarm clock; it startles and surprises you. (correct)
- Do like I say. (incorrect)
- Do as I say, not as I do. (correct)
- real. An adjective that describes something that is not fake. really. An adverb that intensifies the verb it modifies. Do not use real when you mean really.
- Keeping pets gives you a really good lesson in the nature of the real world. (correct)
- My pet snake is real slithery and scares many people. (incorrect) My pet snake is really slithery and scares many people.(correct)
- suppose. To assume something is true, or to consider it as possible. supposed. The past tense of the verb suppose.
- I suppose we learned from our parents how to love animals. (correct)
- We are suppose to take care of them out of love, not obligation. (incorrect)
- I am supposed to study harder if I am serious about becoming a vet. (correct)
Awesome, cool, and totally are three of the most frequently abused words in current English conversation. They are quickly losing any meaning because of their overuse. So try to substitute other, more precise words to convey your meaning.
Try to cut down dramatically on your use of the word like. It's probably the single most overused word. It's not a word to introduce sentences randomly, or to use when you can't think of what you're going to say next!
Remember always to include the final d for the past tense of suppose. Too frequently, the word is used without the final d, and this immediately signals that the speaker either isn't well educated or doesn't care about language.
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
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