A quick-reference list of commonly confused words

  • Advice / Advise

    Advice - a noun: you can give someone an advice. His advice was very useful.
    Advise - a verb: He advised me

    Affect / Effect
    Effect - a result or the power to produce a result. Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about or execute.
    Affect - verb that means to have an influence on

    Aisle / Isle
    Aisle - a passage between rows of seats
    Isle - a an island

    All together / Altogether
    All together - applied to people or things that are being treated as a group
    Altogether - used to mean entirely.

    Altar / Alter
    Altar - a sacred table in a church
    Alter - to change

    Allusion / Illusion
    Allusion - an indirect reference.
    Illusion - a misconception.

    Alternately / Alternatively
    Alternately - in turn; one after the other:
    Alternatively - on the other hand; one or the other.

    Appraise / Apprise
    Appraise - assess
    Apprise - inform

    Assent / Ascent
    Assent - agreement
    Ascent - climb up

    Beside / Besides
    Beside - next to
    Besides - also

    Born / Borne
    Born - Having Born
    Borne - Carried

    Breach / Breech
    Breach - to break through
    Breech - the back part of a gun barrel

    Broach / Brooch
    Broach -  to raise a subject for discussion
    Brooch - a piece of jewellery

    Climactic / Climatic
    Climactic  - forming a climax
    Climatic - related to climate

    Complacent - smug and self-satisfied
    Complaisant - willing to please

    Complement / Compliment
    Complement - something that completes or makes up a whole
    Compliment - an expression of praise or admiration

    Defuse / Diffuse
    Defuse - to make a situation less tense
    Diffuse - to spread over a wide area

    Discreet / Discrete
    Discreet - prudent, circumspect, or modest
    Discrete - separate or individually distinct

    Dual / Duel
    Dual  - having two parts
    duel - a fight or contest between two people

    Elicit / Illicit
    Elicit - to draw out.
    Illicit - unlawful.

    Farther / Further
    Farther - to or at a more distant point
    Further - to or at a greater extent or degree

    Few / Less
    Few - small in number. It is used with countable objects:
    Less - small in amount or degree. It is used with uncountable objects

    Foreword / Forward
    Foreword - an introductory note or preface
    Forward - toward the front

    Hoard / Horde
    Hoard  - a store
    Horde - a large crowd of people

    It's / Its
    It's is a contraction for it is
    its is the possessive form of it

    Practice / Practise
    Practice - the use of an idea or method; the work or business of a doctor, dentist, etc.
    Practise - to do something repeatedly to gain skill

    Principal / Principle
    Principal - a person who holds a high position or plays an important role
    Principle - a rule or standard

    Stationary / Stationery
    Stationary is an adjective that means fixed or unmoving
    Stationery is a noun that means writing materials


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