30 Commonly Confused Words in English for ESL Learners (2023)

Commonly Confused Words in English! In this lesson, you will learn the list of popular 30 English word pairs that confuse absolutely everyone with their meaning and examples with ESL printable infographics.

Table of Contents

Commonly Confused Words List

Here is the useful list of English word pairs that make you confuse:

Accept vs. Except

What is the difference between accept vs except?


Accept means to agree to take something or to say yes to anofferorinvitation.

  • I acceptfullresponsibilityfor thefailureof theplan.


Except means not including; but not. Except alsomeanswith thisdifferenceor in thiscaseonly

  • It’scoolandquieteverywhereexcept in thekitchen.

Advice vs. Advise


Advice is a noun which means guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.

  • I need some adviceonwhichcomputertobuy.


Advise is a verb which means to offer suggestions about the best, to give some advice

  • Hisdoctoradvised himagainstsmoking

Affect vs. Effect


Affect is a verb which means to have an effect on; make a difference to.

  • It’s adiseasethat affectsmainlyolderpeople.


Effect is a noun which means a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.

  • IthinkI’msufferingfrom the effects of too littlesleep.

Allowed vs. Aloud


Allowed means give (someone) permission to do something.

  • Theloopholehas allowed hundreds of drink-driverstoavoidprosecution.


Aloud means audibly; not silently or in a whisper.

  • Childrenloveto havestoriesreadaloud to them.

Allude vs. Elude


Allude means suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at.

  • He alluded toproblemswith the newcomputers.


Elude means evade or escape from (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way.

(Video) COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS IN ENGLSH | Prefixes Un- vs Dis- | Build English Vocabulary

  • They hadminorbreakthroughsbutrealsuccess eluded them.

Ate vs. Eight


Ate is past of “eat” which means to put or takefoodinto themouth, chew it and swallowit:

  • Heateevery bit of the pudding.


Eight is equivalent to the product of two and four; one more than seven, or two less than ten; 8.

  • The two buildings areeightmetres apart.

Break vs. Brake


Break means to separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain.

  • The rope broke with a loud snap.


Brake means to make a moving vehicle slow down or stop by using a brake.

  • He should not brakethe car abruptly on an icy road.

By vs. Buy


By is a preposition which is used to show thepersonor thing that does something:

  • We wereamazedby what she told us.


Buy means to get something bypaying moneyfor it:

  • The bank will supply andbuyback foreign currency.

Capital vs. Capitol


Capital means the most important city or town of a country or region, usually its seat of government and administrative center.

  • Australia’s capitalcityis Canberra.


Capitol is thebuildingin which the USCongressmeets.

  • TheCapitolis a magnificent building.

Coarse vs. Course


Coarse means rough or loose in texture or grain.

  • My clothes were made ofcoarsecloth.


Course a set ofclassesor aplanof studyon aparticularsubject, usually leadingto anexamorqualification

  • They’re going awayonatrainingcourse nextweek.

Emigrate vs. Immigrate


Emigrate means leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another.

  • He’s decided toemigrateand start a new life in America.


Immigrate means come to live permanently in a foreign country.

  • They had no choice but toimmigrate.

Ensure vs. Insure


Ensure means make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case.

(Video) Commonly Confused Words - Quiz

  • I willensurethat the car arrives by six o’clock.


Insure means arrange for compensation in the event of damage to or loss of (property), or injury to or the death of (someone), in exchange for regular advance payments to a company or government agency.

  • It is advisable toinsureyour life against accident.

Farther vs. Further


Farther means to agreater distance.

  • The cinema wasfartherdown the road than I thought.


Further means to agreater distanceordegree, or at a more advancedlevel.

  • We expect to seefurtherimprovement over the coming year.

Fewer vs. Less


Fewer means used to emphasize how small a number of people or things is.

  • Women commitfewercrimes than men.


Less means a smaller amount of; not as much.

  • Do youpaylesstaxif you’reself-employed?

For vs. Four


For is a preposition which means intended to be given to.

  • There’s aphonemessagefor you.


Four is an equivalent to the product of two and two; one more than three, or six less than ten; 4.

  • A horse stumbles that hasfourlegs.

Forth vs. Fourth


Forth means out from a starting point and forward or into view.

  • April showers bringforthMay flowers.


Fourth means constituting number four in a sequence; 4th.

  • He declined to make projections aboutfourthquarter earnings.

Foreword vs. Forward


Foreword is a noun that means an introductory note or preface.

  • This book has aforewordby the President.


Forward is an adjective or adverb that means toward the front.

  • Her chin was thrustforwardaggressively.

Hear vs. Here


Hear means perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something).

  • Men love tohearwell of themselves.


(Video) Confused Words Quiz |Commonly Confused Words Quiz(1)

Here means in, at, or to this place or position.

  • Childrenherewalk several miles to school.

Loose vs. Lose

Difference between loose vs. lose in English:


Loose means not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.

  • There were someloosewires hanging out of the wall.


Lose means be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something).

  • You mustlosea fly to catch a trout.

Peace vs. Piece


Peace means freedom from disturbance; tranquility.

  • They hadworkedfor peace during thelong eraofconflict.


Piece means a portion of an object or of material, produced by cutting, tearing, or breaking the whole.

  • Hecutthecakeinto six pieces.

Plain vs. Plane


Plain means not decorated or elaborate; simple or ordinary in character.

  • I want a plainblack jumper with no fancy trimmings.


Plane means a flat surface on which a straight line joining any two points on it would wholly lie.

  • I looked towards theplane. Six passengers had already disembarked.

Principle vs. Principal


Principle means a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

  • They work on aprincipleof heat absorption.


Principal means the person with the highest authority or most important position in an organization, institution, or group.

  • Theprincipalcastigate the student who have insult their teacher.

Quiet vs. Quite


Quiet means making little or no noise.

  • Bequietor you’ll wake the whole house!


Quite means to the utmost or most absolute extent or degree; absolutely; completely.

  • He wasquiteagreeable to accepting the plan.

Stationary vs. Stationery


Stationary means not moving or not intended to be moved.

  • The bus crashed into astationaryvehicle.


Stationery means the thingsneeded for writing, such as paper,pens,pencils, andenvelopes.


  • If you need morestationery, I’ve got a good contact in a local printing firm.

Than vs. Then


Than means introducing the second element in a comparison.

  • He pain of the mind is worsethanthe pain of the body.


Then means at that time; at the time in question.

  • I’llcallyoutomorrow– I should have thedetails by then.

To vs. Too

What is the difference between to and too in English?


To means used before averbto show that it is in theinfinitive.

  • There is no endtolearning.


Too means more than isneededorwanted; more than issuitable or enough.

  • It is nevertoo old to learn.

Weak vs. Week


Weak means lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks; lacking physical strength and energy.

  • Every man has hisweak side.


Week means a period of seven days.

  • After aweekof camping, I really needed a bath.

Weather vs. Whether


Weather means the state of the atmosphere at a place and time as regards heat, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.

  • We are hoping for goodweatheron Sunday.


Whether means expressing a doubt or choice between alternatives.

  • It all boils down towhetheryou want to go or not.

Which vs. Witch


Which means asking for information specifying one or more people or things from a definite set.

  • Behavior is a mirror inwhicheveryone shows his image.


Witch means a woman thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat and flying on a broomstick.

  • Thewitchenchanted the princess with magic words.

Who vs. Whom


Who means what or which person or people.

  • Sheaskedme if Iknewwho had got thejob.


Whom is used instead of “who” as the object of a verb or preposition.

  • Imeta man with whom I used towork

Confused Words in English | Infographics

30 Commonly Confused Words in English for ESL Learners (1)


30 Commonly Confused Words in English for ESL Learners (2)

30 Commonly Confused Words in English for ESL Learners (3)


What are commonly confused words in English? ›

Commonly Confused Words
  • Affect vs. Effect. Affect is a verb meaning to influence. ...
  • Lie vs. Lay. Lie is a verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. ...
  • Lose vs. Loose. Lose is a verb meaning to misplace. ...
  • Anyway vs. Any way. Anyway is an adverb meaning regardless. ...
  • Than vs. Then. ...
  • That vs. Which. ...
  • Their vs. There vs. ...
  • To vs. Too vs.

What is the most confusing English word? ›

Here's a list of some of the most commonly confused words in the English language:
  • imply/infer. Imply and infer both have to do with communicating and understanding information. ...
  • eminent/imminent. ...
  • ensure/assure/insure. ...
  • advice/advise. ...
  • altogether/all together. ...
  • bemused/amused. ...
  • complementary/complimentary. ...
  • flare/flair.
14 Feb 2021

What are the words often confused explain with examples? ›

Lay/Lie To lay means to put or to place. One way to remember this is that there is an a in both to lay and to place: Posey will lay out her outfit before she goes to bed. To lie means to recline. One way to remember this is that there is an e in both to lie and to recline: Chester will lie down for a nap.

What are the 10 most commonly misused words? ›

  • Affect vs. Effect. The word “affect” means to influence, while the word “effect” is usually used to describe the result of something. ...
  • Accept vs. Except. ...
  • Breath vs. Breathe. ...
  • Beside vs. Besides. ...
  • Compliment vs. Complement. ...
  • Clinch vs. Clench. ...
  • Disinterested vs. Uninterested. ...
  • Denote vs. Connote.
10 Jun 2015

How do you identify commonly confused words? ›

These words are called commonly confused wordsWords that share a similar pronunciation, meaning, or spelling.. For example, read aloud the following sentences containing the commonly confused words new and knew: I liked her new sweater. I knew she would wear that sweater today.

What words are commonly mispronounced? ›

13 most commonly mispronounced words in American English—and the right way to say them
  • Anyway. EH-nee-way. Why is this easy word here? ...
  • Tenet. TEN-eht. ...
  • Comptroller. con-TROLL-er. ...
  • Coup de grâce. koo-de-GRAHS. ...
  • Electoral. ee-LECK-tor-al. ...
  • Hyperbole. high-PER-boh-lee. ...
  • Mischievous. MIS-chuh-vus. ...
  • Ophthalmologist. off-tha(l)-MOLL-o-gist.
22 Oct 2020

What are the 20 examples of homophones? ›

20 Homophones Examples for Writers
  • Baring vs. bearing. Baring means "to bare," while bearing means "to bear."
  • Bolder vs. boulder. Bolder is more bold, and boulder is more rock.
  • Canon vs. cannon. ...
  • Cite vs. sight vs. ...
  • Creak vs. creek. ...
  • Hole vs. whole. ...
  • Incite vs. insight. ...
  • It's vs. its.
11 Sept 2021

What are some complicated words? ›

10 most difficult words in English
  • Literally. If you know a language purist, watch out. ...
  • Ironic. Here is a word that has confused almost all English speakers – native or otherwise. ...
  • Irregardless (instead of regardless) ...
  • Whom. ...
  • Colonel. ...
  • Nonplussed. ...
  • Disinterested. ...
  • Enormity.
16 Nov 2021

What are the most misused words? ›

10 Most Commonly Misused Words
  • Elicit versus Illicit: ...
  • Emigrate versus Immigrate:
  • Climatic versus Climactic: ...
  • Principal versus Principle: ...
  • Your versus You're: ...
  • Affect versus Effect:
  • Its versus it's: ...
  • The infamous "there's": there, they're, their:
28 Mar 2013

How do you avoid commonly confused words? ›

  1. Use a dictionary. Keep a dictionary at your desk while you write. ...
  2. Keep a list of words you commonly confuse. Be aware of the words that often confuse you. ...
  3. Study the list of commonly confused words.

What are the most longest words? ›

8 of the Longest Words in English
  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. ...
  • Floccinaucinihilipilification. ...
  • Incomprehensibility. ...
  • Trichotillomania. ...
  • Xenotransplantation. ...
  • Tergiversation. ...
  • Uncopyrightable. ...
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.
31 Jan 2020

What is pair of words in English? ›

Pair of words are those words that have similar pronunciation but are spelled differently and have a different meaning. Pair of words are also called homonym. For example, Peace and Piece are two pairs of words. They sound the same, but they have different pronunciations and different meanings.

What is the most abused word in the English language? ›

And that frequent misuse has not escaped linguists; according to the editors at Dictionary.com, “We submit that ironic might be the most abused word in the English language.” That's a tough claim to prove, but it's clear that confusion over the definition of irony is persistent, and decades old.

What is the most misused word in America? ›

The most commonly misused phrase in America is “I could care less.” The correct phrase is “I couldn't care less.” Americans are most annoyed by the use of “irregardless” and “supposably.” A majority of Americans (3 in 5) find it acceptable to correct pronunciation or grammar, even when unprompted.

Which are the confusing A and an? ›

Use 'a' if the word begins with a consonant sound and use 'an' if the word begins with a vowel sound. Below are some examples. It is important that you listen to the sound, and not only look at the letter. For example, 'unicorn' begins with /j/ (the y sound) so you should use 'a' before it.

What is a word for similar but different? ›

analogous Add to list Share. Use the adjective analogous to describe something that is similar to something else and can be compared to another. Analogous things can be compared to each other, so a near synonym is the adjective comparable.

Why do people confuse affect and effect? ›

One of the biggest reasons that these two terms can get confused is their similar usage. In most cases, affect is a verb that describes the action in a sentence. However, effect can also be used as a verb to describe an action that causes a result.

What are the most misused words? ›

10 Most Commonly Misused Words
  • Elicit versus Illicit: ...
  • Emigrate versus Immigrate:
  • Climatic versus Climactic: ...
  • Principal versus Principle: ...
  • Your versus You're: ...
  • Affect versus Effect:
  • Its versus it's: ...
  • The infamous "there's": there, they're, their:
28 Mar 2013

How do you avoid commonly confused words? ›

  1. Use a dictionary. Keep a dictionary at your desk while you write. ...
  2. Keep a list of words you commonly confuse. Be aware of the words that often confuse you. ...
  3. Study the list of commonly confused words.

What are some hard words? ›

7 most difficult English words that will let you forget what you wanted to say
  • Rural. ...
  • Sixth. ...
  • Sesquipedalian. ...
  • Phenomenon. ...
  • Onomatopoeia. ...
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. ...
  • Worcestershire.

What are examples of homonyms? ›

Homonyms may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings, such as to, too, and two. Or they may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings, such as quail (the bird) and quail (to cringe).


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