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Richard Nordquist

Quiz on Commonly Confused Words: Summer Songs Edition

By August 3, 2012

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Here, in the context of ten popular summer songs from the past fifty years, are some of the most frequently confused words in English.

By now you should know the drill: ten questions, two minutes, correct answers at the end of the post. (For explanations, examples, and exercises, follow the links to our Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words.)

  1. Brake or Break
    Here it is, the groove slightly transformed,
    Just a bit of a _____ from the norm.
    (Will Smith and Jeff Townes, "Summertime"; performed by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, 1991)

  2. Breath or Breathe
    Do you remember all the nights we spent in silence?
    Every single _____ you took was mine.
    (Richard Marx, "Endless Summer Nights," 1988)

  3. Its or It's
    Toned, tanned, fit and ready,
    Turn it up 'cause _____ gettin' heavy.
    (Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, et al., "California Gurls"; performed by Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, 2010)

  4. Pair, Pare, or Pear
    T-shirts, cut-offs, and a _____ of thongs--
    We've been having fun all summer long.
    (Brian Wilson and Mike Love, "All Summer Long"; performed by the Beach Boys, 1964)

  5. Passed or Past
    And today I _____ the high school, the river, the maple tree.
    I _____ the farms that made it
    Through the last days of the century,
    And I knew that I was going to learn again.
    (Dar Williams, "The End of the Summer," 1997)

  6. Role or Roll
    _____ out those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer,
    Those days of soda and pretzels and beer.
    _____ out those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer,
    You'll wish that summer could always be here.
    (Hans Carste and Charles Tobias, "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer"; performed by Nat King Cole, 1963)

  7. Their, There, or They're
    Oh, when I look back now,
    That summer seemed to last forever,
    And if I had the choice,
    Yeah, I'd always want to be _____.
    Those were the best days of my life.
    (Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, "Summer of '69"; performed by Bryan Adams, 1985)

  8. Weather or Whether
    In the summertime when the _____ is high
    You can stretch right up and touch the sky.
    (Ray Dorset, "In the Summertime"; performed by Mungo Jerry, 1970)

  9. Were, We're, or Where
    She wants to live in the Rockies.
    She says that's _____ we'll find peace.
    Settle down, raise up a family
    One to call our own, yeah,
    We'll have a home.
    (James Hendricks, "Summer Rain"; performed by Johnny Rivers, 1968)

  10. Your or You're
    The summer's over for the both of us,
    But that doesn't mean we should give up on love.
    _____ the one I've been thinking of,
    And I knew the day I met you you'd be the one.
    (Justin Timberlake, Timothy Mosley, and Nate Hills, "Summer Love"; performed by Justin Timberlake, 2007)


  1. break
  2. breath
  3. it's
  4. pair
  5. passed, passed
  6. Roll, Roll
  7. there
  8. weather
  9. where
  10. You're

More Quizzes on Commonly Confused Words:


August 7, 2012 at 8:03 am
(1) Douglas says:

Regarding number 8 in this list: I believed for decades that the lyrics were as written here, i.e., “when the weather is hot.” However, it is actually (as sung by Mungo Jerry anyway), “when the weather is high.”

And it rhymes with “sky.”

August 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm
(2) grammar says:

Thank you, Doug. The weather is now “high.” (It was 1970 after all.)


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