Commonly Confused Words

Writing clearly and persuasively is still as important as ever. According to the PEW Research Center, writing and communication skills account for two of the most important skills that students need to succeed in the modern world and the modern workplace.

A hallmark of good, solid writing is clarity and precision. One cannot be a good communicator if one is not a clear communicator, and being a clear communicator requires one to choose his or her words with purpose.

It is for this reason that I have assembled a list of commonly confused English words. English, as with any language, has no shortage of confusing words in its lexicon, and I will do my best to guide you through these thorny words with style, humor, and examples.

What is the difference between affect and effect? What about principle and principal? How can we sort out these words, so that we don’t make any future writing mistakes?

I hope this page will be a guide for good usage and that each article will serve as a resource you can reference whenever you have a question about the word at hand.

Lastly, if you have any suggestions for additions to this page, shoot me an email, and I would be happy to add it to my list.

Accept versus Except

Ad versus Add

Advice versus Advise

Affect versus Effect

Aid versus Aide

Allude versus Elude

Alot versus A lot

Altar versus Alter

Alumnus versus Alumna

Angel versus Angle

Anxious versus Eager

Are versus Our

Attain versus Obtain

Aural versus Oral

Bale versus Bail

Base versus Bass

Began versus Begun

Below versus Bellow

Break versus Brake

Breakdown versus Break Down

Breath versus Breathe

Breech versus Breach

Calvary versus Cavalry

Canceled versus Cancelled

Capital versus Capitol

Chronic versus Acute

Coma versus Comma

Compliment versus Complement

Color versus Colour

Cord versus Chord

Council versus Counsel

Course versus Coarse

Dairy versus Diary

Defence versus Defense

Defuse versus Diffuse

Device versus Devise

Dice versus Die

Diner versus Dinner

Discrete versus Discreet

Dragged versus Drug

Duel versus Dual

Emigrate versus Immigrate

Everyday versus Every Day

Evoke versus Invoke

Fair versus Fare

Faze versus Phase

Feed versus Fed

Fiction versus Nonfiction

Flair versus Flare

Flier versus Flyer

Foreword versus Forward

Former versus Latter

Fourth versus Forth

Follow-up versus Follow up

Further versus Farther

Gist versus Jist

Hanged versus Hung

Hers versus Her’s

Hyper versus Hypo

I versus Me

I.e. versus E.g.

Implicit versus Explicit

Imply versus Infer

Insure versus Ensure

Inter versus Intra

Its versus It’s

Labor versus Labour

Led versus Lead

Lens versus Lense

Let’s versus Lets

Liar versus Lier

Lifes versus Lives

Lightning versus Lightening

Literally versus Figuratively

Loath versus Loathe

Login versus Log in

Lonely versus Alone

Loose versus Lose

Loss versus Lost

Macro versus Micro

Maize versus Maze

Moustache versus Mustache

New versus Knew

Noone versus No one

Paid versus Payed

Passed versus Past

Patience versus Patients

Peel versus Peal

Pray versus Pray

Principle versus Principal

Protagonist versus Antagonist

Right versus Rite

Road versus Rode

Roll versus Role

Root versus Route

Slander versus Libel

Sometime versus Some time

Sole versus Soul

Then versus Than

Through versus Thru

To versus Too versus Two

Waist versus Waste

Wary versus Weary

Weather versus Whether

Whiskey versus Whisky

Who’s versus Whose

Your versus You’re

Yours versus Your’s