Commonly confused words in English



Commonly confused words in English


There are a number of words in the English language which can cause confusion not only amongst foreigners but even native speakers. The reason behind this can be that some of the words look or sound very similar. Unfortunately their meanings are very different.

Take a look at our list of commonly confused words in English and don’t make a mistake ever again!



Accept – to agree to take, receive or do

Example: Jane accepted my invitation to go to the cinema.

Except – other than, not including

Example: She doesn’t have any friends except for Mary.



Affect – to influence, impact

Example: The death of John’s sister has affected his relationship with his parents.

Effect – a result

Example: Detention had no effect on his behavior.



Borrow – to receive something from someone for temporary use with the intention of giving it back

Example: I borrowed this book from Jane, she said it was really good.

Lend – to allow someone to use something that belongs to you, but expect to get it back

Example: Jane lent me this book, after recommending it.



Coarse – rough in structure or texture

Example: The sand on the beach was coarse.

Course – part of a meal, a school subject, a route

Example: I want to take an intensive course in English.



Compliment – a remark expressing admiration

Example: When I wore this outfit I received a lot of compliments.

Complement – to enhance, to complete

Example: This hat will really complement your look.



Desert – a sandy region with no vegetation, also the act of leaving someone

Example: The desert was a famous filming location for the director’s new production.

Dessert – something sweet, a sweet course

Example: I feel full, but I’ll find some room for dessert.



Ensure – make sure, guarantee, make certain that something will happen

Example: I had to check the iron to ensure it was turned off before I leave the apartment.

Insure – arrange for compensation in the event of loss, accident, injury or death

Example: My parents insured their luggage because they were traveling with a lot of precious items.



Foreword – an introduction to a book

Example: When I wrote my first book I mentioned my husband in the foreword.

Forward – directed ahead, to pass on

Example: When he’s on vacation, Michael forwards all his emails to his secretary.



It’s – means ‘it is’

Example: It’s (It is) about time to go to bed.

Its – is a possessive pronoun, means belonging to, of

Example: The baby smiled and its smile lit up the room.



Quiet – without any noise

Example: When she returned very late from the party she tried to get quietly to her room.

Quite – somewhat, completely or actually

Example: She’s quite smart for her age.



Sight – the ability to see

Example: My grandma lost her sight completely at the age of 84.

Site – a location

Example: The constructing team started working on a new building site.



Their – means belonging to them

Example: Their luggage got lost at the airport, but it was returned to them after a week.

They’re – means ‘they are’

Example: They’re going to the airport to pick up their daughter.



Then – later, at that moment

Example: First he arranged a date with Tina, but later he cancelled.

Than – used to compare two things

Example: My brother is much taller than me.



To – indicating the destination or the object, until

Example: John climbed to the top of the mountain.

Two – the number 2

Example: I have two sisters, one is called Joanne and the other one Mary.

Too – as well, extremely, more than enough

Example: Betty work too much, she doesn’t have time for anything else.



Your – belonging to you

Example: I really like your car.

You’re – means ‘you are’

Example: I heard you’re going to the cinema with Greg.



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