Commonly Confused Words: Glossary of Usage
Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words
Here in our Glossary of Usage you will find more than 300 sets of commonly confused words--with links to definitions, examples, and practice exercises that should help you to keep these words straight.
The Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
"Confusables" are words that are commonly mixed up because they look and sound alike. To test your familiarity with 50 of these often puzzling word pairs, set aside 15 minutes to take this big quiz. Select the word in each set that completes the sentence accurately and appropriately.
Another Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
If you have taken our first Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words, you know all about confusables--words that are frequently mixed up because they look and sound alike. This big quiz will test your familiarity with 50 fresh sets of confusables.
The Third Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
This quiz will test your familiarity with 50 fresh sets of confusables--words that are frequently mixed up because they look and/or sound alike.
Review Quiz: Commonly Confused Words
If you have studied our pages on "Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions," you should have no trouble completing this short review quiz.
Quiz on 20 Commonly Confused Words
In our Glossary of Usage you'll find more than 150 sets of commonly confused words. To test your familiarity with 20 of those word pairs, take a few minutes to do the following quiz.
A Quick Quiz on Commonly Confused Words: 20 Proverbs
Enjoy two lessons in one today: a quick quiz on commonly confused words packed in proverbial wisdom. Complete each proverb by selecting the correct word from each highlighted pair.
Proofreading Practice: Commonly Confused Words
Practice in proofreading the work of others can help us become more aware of our own occasional slip-ups. This exercise offers practice in distinguishing some of those troublesome words that closely resemble other words--homonyms and homophones.
Commonly Confused Words: Compound Confusables
Here we'll look at ten examples of compound confusables: words that mean one thing when written as a single word and something a bit different when written as two words.
Combining Sentences With the Correct Words
Our Glossary of Usage contains more than 150 sets of commonly confused words. To test your familiarity with some of these confusables, complete the following two-step exercise.
A Quiz on Idioms and Commonly Confused Words
This quiz will you help you recognize some common English idioms and choose correctly between some commonly confused words.
Quiz on Commonly Confused Verbs and Verb Forms
This sentence-completion quiz will give you practice in using the correct forms of several commonly confused verbs.
What Are Confusables?
Words that look and sound alike may have altogether different meanings as well as different stories to tell. Here are some examples of confusables in English.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions
On these pages you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. Follow the links for examples, practice exercises, and detailed discussions.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions (B-E)
In this article you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. On this page: Commonly Confused Words B through E.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions (F-K)
In this article you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. On this page: Commonly Confused Words F through I.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions (L-O)
In this article you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. Follow the links for examples, practice exercises, and detailed discussions. On this page: Commonly Confused Words L through O.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions (P-S)
In this article you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. Follow the links for examples, practice exercises, and usage notes. On this page: Commonly Confused Words P through S.
Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions (T-Z)
In this article you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. Follow the links for examples, practice exercises, and usage notes. On this page: Commonly Confused Words T through Z.
A, An, & And
Use the indefinite articles "a" and "an" before nouns: "a" before a noun that begins with a consonant sound; "an" before a noun that begins with a vowel sound. "And" is a coordinating conjunction: use it to join words, phrases, and clauses.
Abstruse and Obtuse
The difference between the adjectives "abstruse" and "obtuse": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Accept, Except, and Expect
"Accept" is a verb that means to take in. The preposition "except" means other than. The verb "expect" means to depend on or await.
Accidental and Incidental
The commonly confused words "accidental" and "incidental": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Adapt and Adopt
"Adapt" means to take something and make it suitable for a specific use or situation. "Adopt" means to take something and make it one's own.
Adverse and Averse
The adjective "adverse" means antagonistic, opposing, harmful, or unfavorable; often it refers to things. The adjective "averse" means strongly disinclined; often it refers to people.
Advice and Advise
The noun "advice" means guidance. The verb "advise" means to recommend or counsel.
Affect and Effect
"Affect" is usually a verb meaning to influence. "Effect" is usually a noun meaning result. When used as a verb, "effect" means to cause.
Afterward(s) and Afterword
The adverb "afterward" (or "afterwards") means at a later time. The noun "afterword" is another word for epilogue--the concluding section of a text.
Aggravate and Irritate
"Aggravate" is a verb that means to make worse. The verb "irritate" means to annoy.
Aid and Aide
The verb "aid" means to assist: to provide what is needed to achieve a goal. The noun "aid" refers to a person or thing that provides assistance. An "aide" (from "aide-de-camp") is a person who acts as an assistant.
Allot, A Lot, and Alot
The commonly confused words "allot," "a lot," and "alot": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Allude and Elude
To "allude" to something means to make an indirect reference. To "elude" means to evade, escape, or avoid.
All Ready and Already
The phrase "all ready" means completely prepared. "Already" is an adverb meaning previously or by this time.
Allusion and Illusion
The noun "allusion" means an indirect reference to a person, event, or thing. "Illusion" is a noun that means false impression.
All Together and Altogether
The phrase "all together" refers to people or things gathered in one place. The adverb "altogether" means entirely or wholly.
Allusive and Elusive
Something that is "allusive" contains (or is characterized by) indirect references. Someone or something that is "elusive" is hard to describe or skillful at avoiding capture.
Indiscreet and Indiscrete
The adjective "indiscreet" means imprudent, lacking good judgment. The adjective "indiscrete" means not divided into separate parts.
Altar and Alter
The noun "altar" refers to the table in churches where religious ceremonies are carried out. The verb "alter" means to change, modify, or adjust.
Alternate and Alternative
The commonly confused words "alternate" and "alternative": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Ambiguous and Ambivalent
"Ambiguous" means doubtful or unclear, open to more than one interpretation. "Ambivalent" means holding opposing attitudes or feelings toward a person, object, or idea.
Amend and Emend
The commonly confused words "amend" and "emend": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Among and Between
In general, "between" applies to reciprocal arrangements (one member to another member), and "among" applies to collective arrangements (with all members involved). As explained in the usage notes below, "between" may apply to more than two members.
Amoral and Immoral
The adjective "amoral" means lying outside the moral order or acting without regard for any particular code of morality. The adjective "immoral" means not moral--that is, violating traditionally held moral principles.
Amount and Number
Use "amount" to refer to a quantity. Use "number" to refer to people or things that can be counted.
Amuse and Bemuse
The verb "amuse" means to entertain or to appeal to an audience's sense of humor. The verb "bemuse" generally means to puzzle, distract, or bewilder.
Anecdote and Antidote
An "anecdote" is a short account of an interesting or amusing incident, often intended to illustrate some point. An "antidote" is something used to counteract the effects of a poison or other undesirable element.
Angel and Angle
The difference between "angel" and "angle"--definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Anonymous and Unanimous
The adjective "anonymous" refers to someone whose name is unknown. The adjective "unanimous" means fully in agreement.
Anxious and Eager
Although "anxious" has been used as a synonym for "eager" since the 18th century, many usage guides insist that "anxious" should be used only when its subject is worried or uneasy about the anticipated event.
Anyone and Any One
The indefinite pronoun "anyone" refers to any person but not to particular individuals. "Any one" is an adjective phrase that refers to specific but unidentified things or individuals.
Appraise and Apprise
The verb "appraise" means to evaluate or set a price on something. To "apprise" is to inform or notify someone.
Ardent and Arduous
The difference between "ardent" and "arduous": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Are and Our
The verb "are" is a present tense form of the verb "to be." The adjective "our" is the possessive form of "we."
Ascent and Assent
The difference between the words "ascent" and "assent": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Assure, Ensure, and Insure
The verbs "assure," "ensure," and "insure" all mean to make certain or secure--but some distinctions are worth making.
Attain and Obtain
The commonly confused words "attain" and "obtain": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Aural and Oral
The adjective "aural" refers to sounds perceived by the ear. The adjective "oral" relates to the mouth: spoken rather than written.
Avocation and Vocation
An "avocation" is a hobby or any other activity taken up in addition to one's regular work. A "vocation" is one's principal occupation or a calling to a particular way of life or course of action.
Awhile and A While
The adverb "awhile" (one word) means for a short time. The noun "a while" (two words) refers to a period of time.
Bail and Bale
Differences between the commonly confused words "bail" and "bale"--with definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Baited and Bated
A hook, witness, or animal is "baited" (lured, enticed, tempted). Breath is "bated" (moderated).
Band and Banned
Don't confuse the noun "band" with "banned," the past tense of the verb "to ban."
Bare and Bear
Here you'll find definitions, examples, and exercises to help you understand the differences between "bare" and "bear."
Bathos and Pathos
The commonly confused words "bathos" and "pathos": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Beside and Besides
"Beside" is a preposition meaning next to. "Besides" is a preposition meaning except or in addition to. As a conjunctive adverb, "besides" means also.
Bloc and Block
The noun "bloc" refers to a group of legislators, political parties, or countries acting together for a common cause. "Block" has many different meanings but is not synonymous with "bloc."
Boar, Boor, and Bore
Here you'll find definitions, examples, and exercises that show how to use the similar-sounding words "boar," "boor," and "bore."
Practice in Choosing the Correct Word
This exercise will give you practice in distinguishing words that are similar in sound, spelling, or meaning.
Bolder and Boulder
The adjective "bolder" means more daring, more forceful, or more prominent. The noun "boulder" refers to a large rock.
Brake and Break
Definitions and examples of two commonly confused words: "brake" and "break."
Bread, Bred, and Breed
The commonly confused words "bread," "bred," and "breed": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Breakdown and Break Down
The noun "breakdown" means a failure to function, a collapse, or an analysis. The verb phrase "break down" means to go out of order, cause a collapse, or separate into parts.
Breath and Breathe
"Breath" is a noun. "Breathe" is a verb.
Bridal and Bridle
Here you'll find definitions, examples, and exercises that demonstrate the difference between "bridal" (an adjective) and "bridle" (a noun and a verb).
Bring and Take
The verbs "bring" and "take" both involve carrying or conveying something, but correct usage depends on the direction of the movement.
Broach and Brooch
The commonly confused words "broach" and "brooch": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Buy, By, and Bye
The verb "buy" means to purchase. The preposition "by" has several meanings, including near, through, and on behalf of. The interjection "bye" (or "bye-bye") is a shorter form of goodbye.
Calvary and Cavalry
Here you'll find definitions, examples, and exercises that demonstrate the difference between the nouns "Calvary" and "cavalry."
Cannon and Canon
The commonly confused words "cannon" and "canon": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Canvas and Canvass
The difference between "canvas" and "canvass": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Capital and Capitol
"Capital" has multiple meanings: (1) a city that serves as the seat of government; (2) wealth in the form of money or property; (3) an asset or advantage; (4) a capital letter (the type of letter used at the beginning of a sentence). "Capitol" refers to the building in which a legislative assembly meets.
Carat, Caret, and Carrot
The noun "carat" (or "karat") refers to a unit of weight for precious stones or a measure of the purity of gold. A "caret" is a proofreading symbol (^) that indicates where something is to be inserted in a text. A "carrot" is an orange vegetable enjoyed by rabbits.
Ceiling and Sealing
The noun "ceiling" refers to the upper interior surface of a room or any upper limit. "Sealing" (from the verb "to seal") means the act of closing or securing something.
Cell and Sell
The commonly confused words "cel," "cell," and "sell": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Censor and Censure
Commonly confused words "censor" and "censure": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Cent, Scent, and Sent
The noun "cent" refers to a coin equal to the hundredth part of a dollar: a penny. As both a noun and a verb, "scent" refers to an odor or the sense of smell. "Sent" is the past form of the verb "to send."
Cereal and Serial
The noun "cereal" refers to a grain (such as wheat or oats) or a breakfast food prepared from one of these grains. The noun "serial" refers to a work that appears in parts at regular intervals. The adjective "serial" means arranged or occurring in a series.
Chafe and Chaff
"Chafe" and "chaff": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Chaotic and Inchoate
Here you'll find definitions, examples, and exercises that demonstrate the difference between the adjectives "chaotic" and "inchoate."
Childish and Childlike
"Childish" points to unfavorable qualities--silly, immature. "Childlike" points to more favorable qualities--trusting, innocent.
Choose, Chose, & Chosen
"Choose" is an irregular verb, with "chose" as the past form and "chosen" as the past-participle form.
Chord and Cord
The commonly confused words "chord" and "cord": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Cite and Site
The verb "cite" means to mention or quote as an authority or example. The noun "site" means a particular place.
Cleanup and Clean Up
The noun "cleanup" refers to the act of cleaning, eliminating crime, or making a profit. The verb phrase "clean up" means to make clean and neat, finish, or turn a sizable profit.
Click and Clique
As a noun, "click" refers to a brief, sharp noise. The verb "click" means to produce a clicking sound or to press down and release a button on a mouse or other pointing device. The noun "clique" refers to an exclusive group of friends or associates.
Climactic and Climatic
The adjective "climactic" corresponds to the noun climax: "a climactic scene." The adjective "climatic" corresponds to the noun climate: "climatic research."
Close, Clothes, and Cloths
The noun "clothes" means clothing. "Cloths" is the plural of "cloth" (fabric).
Coarse and Course
The adjective "coarse" means rough, common, inferior, or indecent. The noun "course" can mean several things, including path, playing field, mode of behavior, unit of study, and onward movement. As a verb, "course" means to move swiftly.
Collaborate and Corroborate
The verb "collaborate" means to cooperate or work jointly with others. The verb "corroborate" means to strengthen, support, or confirm with evidence.
Compile and Compose
The commonly confused words "compile" and "compose": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Complement and Compliment
"Complement" means "something that completes or brings to perfection." A "compliment" is an expression of praise.
Complementary and Complimentary
The adjective "complementary" means serving to complete or supplying mutual needs. The adjective "complimentary" means flattering or given free as a courtesy.
Compulsion and Compunction
The commonly confused words "compulsion" and "compunction": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Confidant and Confident
The noun "confidant" refers to a person (usually a friend or associate) to whom secrets or private matters are disclosed. The adjective "confident" means certain, bold, or self-assured.
Connote and Denote
The commonly confused words "connote" and "denote": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Conscience & Conscious
The noun "conscience" means the sense of what is right and wrong. The adjective "conscious" means being aware or deliberate.
Consequently and Subsequently
"Consequently" is a conjunctive adverb that means as a result. The adverb "subsequently" means next--following in time, order, or place.
Contemptible and Contemptuous
The adjective "contemptible" means despicable--deserving of contempt. The adjective "contemptuous" means scornful--showing or feeling contempt.
Continual & Continuous
"Continual" means frequently repeated (that is, going on with occasional interruptions). "Continuous" means unceasing (going on without interruption).
Council and Counsel
The noun "council" refers to a government body or an assembly of officials. The noun "counsel" means advice, guidance, or consultation. As a verb, "counsel" means to advise.
Credible, Creditable, and Credulous
The adjective "credible" means believable, worthy, or trustworthy. The adjective "credulous" means gullible--tending to believe too easily or readily.
Criterion and Criteria
The singular noun "criterion" means a standard on which a judgment or decision can be based. The plural form is "criteria."
Dam and Damn
The difference between the commonly confused words "dam" and "damn"--definitions, examples, and exercises.
Desert and Dessert
A "desert" is a dry, sandy region or wasteland; the verb "desert" means to abandon. A "dessert" is a sweet dish served at the end of a meal.
Days and Daze
"Days" is the plural form of the noun "day." The noun "daze" means a stunned or bewildered condition. As a verb, "daze" means to stun or to dazzle.
Defective and Deficient
The adjective "defective" means faulty, marked by a defect. The adjective "deficient" means inadequate or insufficient, lacking an essential element or ingredient.
Dazed and Dazzled
"Dazed" usually means shocked or stunned (as with a heavy object). "Dazzled" means blinded with intense light or amazed by a spectacular display or performance.
Definite and Definitive
The commonly confused words "definite" and "definitive": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Defuse and Diffuse
The verb "defuse" means to remove a fuse (from a bomb, for example) or to make a situation less dangerous, harmful, or tense. The verb "diffuse" means to spread out or scatter. As an adjective, "diffuse" means widely spread or wordy.
Demur and Demure
The commonly confused words "demure" and "demure": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Dependant and Dependent
The differences between the noun "dependant" and the adjective "dependent" in British English and American English.
Deprecate and Depreciate
The verb "deprecate" means to deplore, disparage, express disapproval of something. The verb "depreciate" means to drop in value.
Device and Devise
The noun "device" means a gadget. The verb "to devise" means to plan.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
The noun "diagnosis" refers to the process of analyzing information to understand or explain something. The noun "prognosis" means a forecast or prediction.
Die and Dye
The commonly confused words "die" and "dye": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Discover and Invent
The verb "discover" means to become aware of something previously unknown. The verb "invent" means to make (or make up) something that previously did not exist.
Discreet and Discrete
The adjective "discreet" means prudently self-restrained or tactful. "Discrete" means distinct or separate.
Disinterested and Uninterested
The adjective "disinterested" means impartial and without bias. "Uninterested" means indifferent or unconcerned.
Distinct and Distinctive
The adjective "distinct" means clearly defined and readily distinguishable from all others. "Distinct" also means notable or highly probable. "Distinctive" means set off by appearances or characteristic of a particular person, place, or thing.
Dual and Duel
The adjective "dual" means double or twofold. "Duel" is a noun or verb referring to a fight or struggle.
Earthly and Earthy
The adjective "earthly" means relating to the earth or to life on earth. The adjective "earthy" means resembling soil, or unrefined, natural, simple.
Economic and Economical
In present-day usage, the adjective "economical" generally means thrifty--marked by careful use of resources or operating with little waste. The adjective "economic" (related to the field of economics) generally refers to the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
E.g. and I.e.
The abbreviation "e.g." means "for example." The abbreviation "i.e." means "that is."
Elicit and Illicit
The verb elicit means to call forth or bring out. The adjective illicit means unlawful or not permitted.
Emigrate and Immigrate
Definitions and examples of "emigrate" and "immigrate"--two commonly confused words.
Eminent and Imminent
The adjective "eminent" means prominent or outstanding. "Imminent" means impending, about to occur.
Envelop and Envelope
"Envelop" is a verb meaning "cover" or "enclose." "Envelope" is a noun meaning "container used for mailing."
Epigram, Epigraph, and Epitaph
Each of these words beginning with "epi-" (from the Greek word for "upon") has multiple definitions, but here are the most common meanings.
Etc. and Et al.
The abbreviation "etc." means "and so on." The abbreviation "et al." means "and others."
Eventually and Ultimately
The adverb "eventually" refers to an unspecified time in the future. "Ultimately" means in the end.
Everyday and Every Day
The adjective "everyday" (written as one word) means routine, ordinary, or commonplace. "Every day" (two words) means each day.
Everyday and Every Day: Answers to Practice Exercises
The adjective "everyday" (written as one word) means routine, ordinary, or commonplace. "Every day" (two words) means each day.
Everyone and Every One
The indefinite pronoun "everyone" means every person. The phrase "every one" refers to every person or thing of those named.
Evoke and Invoke
The verb "evoke" means to summon, call forth, or call to mind. The verb "invoke" means to call for support or assistance, or to summon with incantations.
Exhort and Extort
The verb "exhort" means to urge strongly or give warnings or advice. The verb "extort" means to obtain something by intimidation or force.
Explicit and Implicit
"Explicit" means clearly expressed or readily observable. "Implicit" means implied or expressed indirectly.
Faint and Feint
As both a noun and a verb, "faint" refers to a brief loss of consciousness. As an adjective, "faint" means lacking in strength, conviction, clarity, or brightness. The noun "feint" refers to a mock attack or deceptive action meant to divert attention from one's real purpose.
Fair and Fare
The adjective "fair" means just and unbiased or pleasing, clear, and clean. The noun "fair" (as in "state fair") refers to an exhibition or exposition. The noun "fare" refers to food and drink or a transportation fee (as in "bus fare"). The verb "fare" (as in "fare thee well") means to go, get along, succeed.
Farrago and Fiasco
The commonly confused words "farrago" and "fiasco": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Farther and Further
"Farther" usually refers to physical distance. "Further" refers to an extension of time or degree.
Faze and Phase
The verb "faze" means to bother or disturb the composure (of someone). As a noun, "phase" means a stage of development or a distinct portion of a process, system, or presentation. As a verb, "phase" means to plan or carry out systematically in stages.
Few (Fewer) and Little (Less)
"Few" and "fewer" refer to people or objects that can be counted. "Little" and "less" refer to a small quantity.
Finally and Finely
The adverb "finally" (from "final") means at last, coming at the end. The adverb "finely" (from "fine") means precisely, minutely, or extremely well done.
Find and Fined
The commonly confused words "find" and "fined": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Fir and Fur
Commonly confused words "fir" and "fur": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Flair and Flare
The noun "flair" means a talent or a distinctive quality or style. As a noun, "flare" means a fire or a blazing light. As a verb, "flare" means to burn with an unsteady flame or shine with a sudden light.
Flammable, Inflammable, and Nonflammable
Guide to the correct use of the adjectives "flammable," "inflammable," and "nonflammable," with definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Flaunt and Flout
To "flaunt" means to show off. To "flout" means to defy or to show contempt for.
Flesh Out and Flush Out
To "flesh out" something (like a plan or an idea) is to expand it or give it substance. To "flush out" means to force someone or something out of hiding or to clean something.
Flew, Flu, and Flue
"Flew" is the simple past form of the verb "fly." The noun "flu" (shortened form of "influenza") refers to a contagious viral infection. The noun "flue" is a channel in a chimney or any enclosed passageway.
Flounder and Founder
The verb "flounder" means to struggle, to make clumsy efforts to move or regain one's balance. The verb "founder" means to sink or become disabled.
Flour and Flower
The commonly confused words "flour" and "flower": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Forbear and Forebear
The verb "forbear" means to avoid, refrain, or show self-control. The noun "forebear" refers to an ancestor.
Foreword and Forward
The noun "foreword" refers to a preface or an introductory note, often one written by a person other than the author. "Forward" is an adjective and an adverb with several meanings related to direction.
Formally and Formerly
The adverb "formally" means in a formal way. The adverb "formerly" means at an earlier time.
Forth and Fourth
The adverb "forth" means onward in time, place, or order. The adjective "fourth" refers to the ordinal number.
Fortunate and Fortuitous
The primary meaning of "fortunate" is lucky or auspicious. The primary meaning of "fortuitous" is accidental. In recent decades, however, "fortuitous" has been used synonymously with "fortunate" and "felicitous."
Full and Fulsome
Put simply, the adjective "full" means complete or containing all that is possible, while the adjective "fulsome" means offensive or insincere.
Garner and Garnish
The verb "garner" means to collect, gather up, or earn. The verb "garnish" means to adorn or decorate.
Gibe and Jibe
As both a noun and a verb, "gibe" refers to a taunting or derisive remark. (In this sense, "jibe" is considered an acceptable alternative to "gibe.") The verb "jibe" means to be in accord or consistent with something.
Good and Well
"Good" is usually an adjective. "Well" is usually an adverb. Here are several examples of how to use "good" and "well" correctly.
Gorilla and Guerrilla
Gorilla and Guerrilla: definitions, examples, and exercises.
Gourmand and Gourmet
The noun "gourmand" refers to someone who is extremely (and often excessively) fond of eating and drinking. A "gourmet" (both a noun and an adjective) is a connoisseur: someone with refined tastes in food and drink.
Grate and Great
The difference between the commonly confused words "grate" and "great": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Grateful and Gratified
The commonly confused words "grateful" and "gratified": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Grisly and Grizzly
The adjective "grisly" means horrible, fearsome, disgusting. The noun "grizzly" refers to a large brown bear. As an adjective, "grizzly" (more commonly "grizzled") means streaked with gray.
Ad and Add
The commonly confused words "ad" and "add": definitions, examples, and practice exercises
Guessed and Guest
The difference between the commonly confused words "guessed" and "guest"--definitions, examples, and exercises.
Hall and Haul
The commonly confused words "hall" and "haul": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Hanged and Hung
For centuries, "hanged" and "hung" were used interchangeably as the past participle of "hang." Most contemporary usage guides insist that in formal writing "hanged," not "hung," should be used when referring to executions: convicted killers are hanged; posters are hung.
Hardy and Hearty
The adjective "hardy" means daring, courageous, and capable of surviving difficult conditions. The adjective "hearty" means showing warm and heartfelt affection or providing abundant nourishment.
Have and Of
Use "have," not "of," as an auxiliary verb. "Of" is a preposition.
Hear and Here
The verb "hear" means to perceive sound or to listen. The adverb "here" means at, in, or toward a place.
Heard and Herd
"Heard" is the past form of the verb "to hear." The noun "herd" refers to a large group of animals or people. As a verb, "herd" means to gather into a group or to move as a group.
Heroin and Heroine
"Heroin" is a highly addictive narcotic. A "heroine" is a woman known for her special achievements or the principal female character in a novel or play.
Higher and Hire
"Higher" means taller or more advanced. The verb "hire" means to engage the services of someone (or the use of something) for a fee. As a noun, "hire" refers to payment for labor or the temporary use of something.
Historic and Historical
Historic means important, momentous, or historically significant. Historical means relating to the past.
Hoard and Horde
The noun "hoard" refers to a supply of something that has been stored up and often hidden away. As a verb, "hoard" means to collect and store away or to keep something to oneself. The noun "horde" means a crowd, throng, or swarm.
Hoarse and Horse
The difference between the commonly confused words "hoarse" and "horse"--definitions, examples, and exercises.
Hole and Whole
The noun "hole" refers to an opening, a hollow place, a defect, or a dingy place. The adjective "whole" means entire, complete, or unbroken.
Home and Hone
A missile "homes in" (not "hones in") on a target. Hone means "to sharpen."
Hoping & Hopping
Hoping is the present-participle form of hope ("to wish for"). Hopping is the present-participle form of hop (like a bunny).
Hour and Our
The commonly confused words "hour" and "our": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
I and Me
A guide to the commonly confused first-person pronouns "I" and "me": examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Human and Humane
The noun "human" refers to a person. As an adjective, "human" means showing the distinctive characteristics (good or bad) of people, as distinguished from animals. The adjective "humane" means characterized by kindness, compassion, or sympathy.
Hurdle and Hurtle
As a noun, "hurdle" refers to an obstacle or barrier. The verb "hurdle" means to leap over or overcome an obstacle. "Hurtle" is a verb that means to move with great speed or throw with great force.
Imaginary and Imaginative
The adjective "imaginary" means unreal, illusory, or fanciful. The adjective "imaginative" means having or using the imagination in a creative way.
Imply and Infer
A speaker "implies" (suggests) something; a listener "infers" (or deduces).
In and Into
The commonly confused words "in" and "into": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Incredible and Incredulous
"Incredible" means unbelievable. "Incredulous" means skeptical or expressive of disbelief.
Incidence and Incidents
The noun "incidence" means an occurrence or the rate of occurrence. The noun "incidents" is the plural of "incident"--an event or episode.
Incite and Insight
The verb "incite" means to urge on or provoke. The noun "insight" means perception or the ability to understand the true nature of things.
Ingenious and Ingenuous
The adjective "ingenious" means extremely clever--marked by inventive skill and imagination. "Ingenuous" means straightforward, candid, without guile.
Inhuman and Inhumane
These adjectives have similar meanings (pitiless or lacking in compassion), but "inhuman" has a harsher sense than "inhumane."
Insidious and Invidious
The adjective "insidious" means treacherous but enticing, or spreading harmfully in a subtle way. The adjective "invidious" means discriminatory, or tending to cause ill will or envy.
Intense and Intent
"Intense" means profound, deeply felt, or extreme in degree, strength, or size. "Intent" means focused or concentrated.
Inveigh and Inveigle
The verb "inveigh" means to talk or write angrily or bitterly. The verb "inveigle" means to entice, trick, or lead on with deception.
Its and It's
"Its" is a possessive pronoun. "It's" is a contraction of "it is."
Judicial and Judicious
The adjective "judicial" means pertaining to law courts, judges, or the administration of justice. The adjective "judicious" means having or showing sound judgment.
Know and No
The commonly confused words "know" and "no": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Last and Latter
"Latter" refers to the second of two persons or things that have been mentioned. When more than two have been mentioned, use "last."
Later and Latter
Use "later" when referring to time. Use "latter" when referring to the second of two persons or things mentioned previously.
Lay and Lie
The verb "lay" means to put; it takes a direct object. The verb "lie" means to rest; it does not take a direct object.
Leach and Leech
The verb "leach" means to empty, drain, or remove. The noun "leech" refers to a bloodsucking worm or to a person who preys on or clings to another. As a verb, "leech" means to bleed with leeches or to act as a parasite.
Lead and Led
"Led" is both the past and past participle form of the verb "to lead."
Leave and Let
The verb "leave" means go away from or put in a place. "Let" means permit or allow.
Lend and Loan
In formal usage (especially in British English), "lend" is a verb and "loan" is a noun. But see the usage notes that follow.
Lessen and Lesson
The verb "lessen" means to decrease or reduce. The noun "lesson" means an instructive example, a piece of practical wisdom, or a unit of instruction.
Liable and Libel
The commonly confused words "liable" and "libel": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Lightening and Lightning
The noun "lightening" means making lighter in weight or changing to a lighter or brighter color. "Lightning" is the flash of light that accompanies thunder.
Limp and Limpid
The commonly confused words "limp" and "limpid": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Literally and Figuratively
"Literally" means really or actually or in the strict sense of the word. Don't confuse it with "figuratively," which means in an analogous or metaphorical sense, not in the exact sense.
Loath and Loathe
"Loath" is an adjective meaning unwilling or reluctant, and it's usually followed by "to." "Loathe" is a verb that means to dislike intensely.
Loose and Lose
The adjective "loose" means not tight. The verb "lose" means not to win or not to keep.
Luxuriant and Luxurious
The commonly confused words "luxuriant" and "luxurious": definitions, examples, and exercises
Mail and Male
The difference between the commonly confused words "mail" and "male"--definitions, examples, and exercises.
Manner and Manor
The noun "manner" means a customary or characteristic way of doing something or behaving. The noun "manor" refers to a mansion or a large house with land.
Mantel and Mantle
The noun "mantel" refers to a shelf above a fireplace. The noun "mantle" refers to a cloak or (usually figuratively) to royal robes of state as a symbol of authority or responsibility.
Many and Much
"Many" refers to people or objects that can be counted. "Much" refers to a large quantity.
Marital and Martial
The adjective "marital" refers to marriage. The adjective "martial" refers to battle, war, or military life.
Moral and Morale
The adjective "moral" (with the accent on the first syllable) means ethical or virtuous. As a noun "moral" refers to the lesson or principle taught by a story or event. The noun "morale" (second syllable accented) means spirit or attitude.
Material and Materiel
The noun "material" refers to a substance out of which something can be made. As an adjective, "material" means relevant and consequential. The noun "materiel" refers to supplies and equipment used by an organization, especially a military unit.
Maybe and May Be
"Maybe" is an adverb meaning perhaps. "May be" is a verb phrase showing possibility.
Medal, Meddle, Metal, and Mettle
The noun "medal" refers to a flat piece of metal stamped with an image or design. The noun "metal" refers to an element with a shiny surface. The noun "mettle" means courage or spirit.
Media, Medium, and Mediums
Strictly speaking, "media" is the plural of "medium" and should be used with a plural verb.
Militate and Mitigate
"Militate" is an intransitive verb that means to counteract, to have an effect against something. "Mitigate" is a transitive verb that means to mollify or alleviate--to make less severe or painful.
Miner and Minor
The noun "miner" refers to a person who works in a mine. The noun "minor" refers to someone who is under legal age or to a secondary area of academic study. As an adjective, "minor" means lesser or smaller.
Missed and Mist
The commonly confused words "missed" and "mist": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Moot and Mute
The adjective "moot" refers to something that is debatable or of no practical importance. The adjective "mute" means unspoken or unable to speak.
Naval and Navel
Learn the difference between "naval" and "navel"--definitions, examples, and exercises.
Noisome and Noisy
The adjective noisome means obnoxious, harmful, offensive to the senses (especially the sense of smell). It doesn't mean making noise (noisy).
Nobody, None, and No One
Commonly confused words "nobody," "none," and "no one": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Nutritional and Nutritious
The adjective "nutritional" means related to the process of nutrition--that is, using food to support life. The adjective "nutritious" means healthy to eat or nourishing.
Obsolescent and Obsolete
The adjective "obsolescent" refers to the process of passing out of use or usefulness--becoming obsolete. The adjective "obsolete" means no longer in use--outmoded in design, style, or construction.
Official and Officious
As an adjective, "official" means authorized, authoritative, or characteristic of an office. The adjective "officious" usually means meddlesome--excessively eager to offer help or advice.
Ordinance and Ordnance
The commonly confused words "ordinance" and "ordnance": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Pail and Pale
The difference between "pail" and "pale": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Pain and Pane
The commonly confused words "pain" and "pane": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Pair, Pare, and Pear
The verb "pare" means to remove, reduce, or cut back. The noun "pair" means a couple. The noun "pear" refers to the fruit.
Palate, Palette, and Pallet
The noun "palate" refers to the roof of the mouth or the sense of taste. The noun "palette" refers to an artist's paint board or a range of colors. The noun "pallet" is a straw-filled mattress or a hard bed.
Passed and Past
"Passed" is both the past and past-participle form of the verb "pass." "Past" is a noun (meaning a previous time), an adjective (meaning ago), and a preposition (meaning beyond).
Aisle, I'll, and Isle
The commonly confused words "aisle," "I'll," and "isle": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Peace and Piece
The noun "peace" means contentment or the absence of war. A "piece" is a unit or a portion.
Peak, Peek, and Pique
Definitions and examples of three commonly confused words: peak, peek, and pique.
Pedal and Peddle
The verb "pedal" means to operate a pedal or ride a bicycle. The verb "peddle" means to sell or give out.
Perpetrate and Perpetuate
The verb "perpetrate" means to commit, carry out, or bring about. The verb "perpetuate" means to prolong the existence of or to cause to last indefinitely.
Perquisite and Prerequisite
A "perquisite" (sometimes informally shortened to "perk") is a benefit (beyond pay) that is associated with a particular job. A "prerequisite" is something required as a prior condition of something else.
Persecute and Prosecute
To "persecute" is to oppress, harass, or bother. To "prosecute" is to enforce by legal action.
Personal and Personnel
The adjective "personal" (with the accent on the first syllable) means private or individual. The noun "personnel" (accent on the last syllable) refers to the people employed in an organization, business, or service.
Perspective and Prospective
The noun "perspective" refers to a view or outlook. The adjective "prospective" means likely or expected to happen or become.
Perverse and Perverted
The adjective "perverse" generally means stubborn, cranky, wrong-headed, or incorrect. "Perverted" means twisted, distorted, corrupt.
Piteous, Pitiable, and Pitiful
The commonly confused words "piteous," "pitiable," and "pitiful": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Plain and Plane
As an adjective, "plain" means simple, uncomplicated, common, or obvious. The noun "plain" refers to a flat, usually treeless stretch of land. As a noun, "plane" can refer to an airplane, a tool for smoothing wood, or a level surface.
Pole and Poll
The noun "pole" refers to a long staff or to either extremity of an axis of a sphere. The noun "poll" most often refers to the casting of votes in an election or a survey of public opinion. Likewise, the verb "poll" means to record votes or to ask questions in a survey.
Poor, Pore, and Pour
The commonly confused words "poor," "pore," and "pour": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Pray and Prey
The verb "pray" means to beg, to request, or to address a prayer to God. As a verb, "prey" means to hunt, plunder, or victimize. As a noun, "prey" refers to a victim or to an animal hunted for food.
Precede and Proceed
"Precede" means to come before. "Proceed" means to go forward.
Precedence and Precedents
Definitions, examples, and practice exercises for the commonly confused words "precedence" and "precedents"
Premier and Premiere
As an adjective, "premier" means first in rank or importance. The noun "premier" refers to a prime minister, or the head of a state, province, or territory. The noun "premiere" refers to the first performance (of a play, for example). "Premiere" is similarly used as a verb, meaning to give a first public performance.
Prescribe and Proscribe
The verb "prescribe" means to establish, direct, or lay down as a rule. The verb "proscribe" means to ban, forbid, or condemn.
Principal and Principle
As a noun, "principal" commonly means administrator or sum of money. As an adjective, "principal" means most important. The noun "principle" means basic truth or rule.
Profit and Prophet
The commonly confused words "profit" and "prophet": definitions, examples, and practice exercises
Beat and Beet
The commonly confused words "beat" and "beet": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Prophecy and Prophesy
The noun "prophecy" refers to a prediction or an inspired message. The verb "prophesy" means to reveal by divine inspiration or to predict with certainty.
Prostate and Prostrate
As both a noun and an adjective, "prostate" refers to a male gland. As an adjective, "prostrate" means lying flat on the ground or reduced to extreme weakness. The verb "prostrate" means to put oneself into a submissive position.
Quell and Quench
The verb "quell" means to suppress, pacify, or put down with force. The verb "quench" means to satisfy, extinguish, or cool down.
Quiet, Quit, and Quite
"Quiet" means silence. "Quit" means to leave. "Quite" means very or actually.
Quotation and Quote
In formal English, "quotation" is a noun, "quote" a verb.
Rack and Wrack
As verbs, "rack" means to torture or cause great suffering, while "wrack" means to wreck or cause the ruin of something. The noun "rack" means a frame, an instrument of torture, or a state of intense anguish. The noun "wrack" means destruction or wreckage.
Rain, Reign, and Rein
All three of these words can be used as both nouns and verbs. "Rain" refers to precipitation (falling water). "Reign" refers to a period or demonstration of sovereign power. "Rein" refers to restraint or the means by which power is exercised.
Raise, Raze, and Rise
"Raise" is (usually) a transitive verb that means lift, heighten, or promote. The transitive verb "raze" means to destroy or demolish. "Rise" is an intransitive verb that means to get up or increase.
Board and Bored
The noun "board" refers to a piece of sawed lumber, a flat piece of material, or a table spread with a meal. As a verb, "board" means to cover with boards or to enter. "Bored" is the past tense of the verb "bore": to dig or to cause boredom.
Rational and Rationale
The adjective "rational" means having or exercising the ability to reason. The noun "rationale" refers to an explanation or basic reason.
Ravage and Ravish
The verb "ravage" means to ruin, devastate, or destroy. The noun "ravage" (often in the plural) means grievous damage or destruction. The verb "ravish" means to rape, carry away by force, or overwhelm with emotion.
Real and Reel
The commonly confused words "real" and "reel": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Recourse and Resource
"Recourse" is a person or thing that one turns or applies to for help. "Resource" is a supply that can be drawn on when needed.
Reek, Wreak, and Wreck
The commonly confused words "reek," "wreak," and "wreck": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Regretful and Regrettable
The adjective "regretful" refers to people and means full of regret. "Regrettable" applies to incidents or situations and means causing or deserving regret.
Reluctant and Reticent
The adjective "reluctant" means to feel or show hesitation, aversion, or unwillingness. The adjective "reticent" means inclined to be silent or restrained in expression or appearance.
Respectfully and Respectively
"Respectively" means one by one in the order designated or mentioned. "Respectfully" means with respect.
Restive and Restless
The commonly confused words "restive" and "restless": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Review and Revue
The noun "revue" refers to a musical or theatrical production. As both a noun and a verb, "review" has the sense of inspecting, surveying, or critically evaluating.
Riffle and Rifle
The verb "riffle" means to shuffle (playing cards) or to flick or leaf through something (such as the pages of a book or magazine). The verb "rifle" means to rob, ransack, or search with the intention of stealing.
Right, Rite, Wright, Write
These four homophones have very different meanings and uses. Here you'll find definitions and examples of the words "right," "rite," "wright," and "write."
Ring and Wring
The noun "ring" has several meanings, including a circular band, an exhibition area, and the sound of a bell. As a verb, "ring" means to surround or to sound a bell. The verb "wring" means to twist, squeeze, or compress.
Risky and Risqué
Learn the difference between "risky" and "risqué": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Role and Roll
A "role" is a character or part played by a performer. "Roll" has many senses, including a portion of bread and a list of names of persons belonging to a group.
Sensual and Sensuous
The adjective "sensual" means affecting or gratifying the physical senses. "Sensuous" means pleasing to the senses, especially those involved in aesthetic pleasure, as of art or music.
Scene and Seen
The noun "scene" refers to a place, setting, or view, or a part of a play or film. "Seen" is the past participle form of the verb "see."
Seam and Seem
The commonly confused words "seam" and "seem": definition, examples, and exercises.
Seasonable and Seasonal
The commonly confused words "seasonable" and "seasonal": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Sensible and Sensitive
The commonly confused words "sensible" and "sensitive": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Serve and Service
In general practice, people are "served," things are "serviced."
Set and Sit
The transitive verb "set" means to put or to place; it takes a direct object, and its principal forms are "set," "set," and "set." The intransitive verb "sit" means to be seated; it does not take a direct object, and its principal forms are "sit," "sat," and "sat."
Shall and Will
In contemporary American English, the auxiliary verb "shall" is rarely used. In British English, "shall" and "will" are often used interchangeably with no difference of meaning in most circumstances. Internationally, "will" is now the standard choice for expressing future plans and expectations.
Shear and Sheer
The verb "shear" means to cut or clip. As a noun, "shear" refers to the act, process, or fact of cutting or clipping. The adjective "sheer" means fine, transparent, or complete. As an adverb, "sheer" means completely or altogether.
Should and Would
Differences between "should" and "would": examples, exercises, and usage notes.
Shudder and Shutter
The commonly confused words "shudder" and "shutter": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Sic and Sick
The differences between the words "sic" and "sick": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Simple and Simplistic
The adjective "simple" means plain, ordinary, uncomplicated. The adjective "simplistic" is a pejorative word meaning overly simplified--characterized by extreme and often misleading simplicity.
Skulk and Sulk
The commonly confused words "skulk" and "sulk": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Soar and Sore
The commonly confused words "soar" and "sore": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Sole and Soul
Definitions, examples, and practice exercises for the commonly confused words "sole" and "soul."
Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes
"Sometime" means at an indefinite or unstated time in the future. "Some time" means a period of time. "Sometimes" means occasionally, now and then.
Stake and Steak
The commonly confused words "stake" and "steak": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Stanch and Staunch
The verb "stanch" means to check or stop the flow of something. The adjective "staunch" means strong, substantial, or steadfast.
Stationary and Stationery
The adjective "stationary" means remaining in one place. The noun "stationery" means writing materials.
Statue and Statute
A "statue" is a carved or molded figure. A "statute" is a rule or law.
Dear and Deer
The commonly confused words "dear" and "deer": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Straight and Strait
The difference between the adjective "straight" and the noun "strait": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Suit, Suite, and Sweet
As a noun, "suit" (pronounced "sewt") means a costume, a set of garments, a claim in court, or a set of playing cards bearing the same mark. The noun "suite" (pronounced "sweet") means a musical composition, a staff of attendants, or a set of things (such as pieces of furniture) that form a unit.
Tack and Tact
The verb "tack" means to attach, add, or change course. As a noun, "tack" refers to a small nail, the direction of a ship, a course of action, or a sticky quality or condition. The noun "tact" means diplomacy or skill in dealing with others.
Tail and Tale
Both a noun and a verb, "tail" has several meanings, including the rear part of an animal or vehicle. The noun "tale" refers to a report or story.
Tasteful and Tasty
The commonly confused words "tasteful" and "tasty": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Taught and Taut
"Taught" is both the past and past participle form of the verb "teach." "Taut" is an adjective that means strained, pulled tight, or tidy.
Team and Teem
The noun "team" refers to a group of people working or playing together. The verb "teem" means to be full or prolific.
Temerity and Timidity
The noun "temerity" means daring or recklessness. In contrast, the noun "timidity" means fearfulness.
Than and Then
Use "than" to make a comparison. Use "then" when referring to time.
Their, There, and They're
"Their" is the possessive form of "they." "There" is an adverb (meaning at that place) and a pronoun used to start a sentence. "They're" is a contraction of "they are."
Threw, Through, and Thru
"Threw" is the simple past tense of the verb "throw." "Through" often suggests a passage—from start to finish, or from point A to point B. "Thru" is an informal spelling of "through."
Throes and Throws
The plural noun "throes" means a great struggle or a condition of agonizing pain or trouble. "Throws" is the third-person present singular form of the verb "throw."
Tide and Tied
The noun "tide" refers to the rise and fall of the level of the sea. "Tied" is the past form of the verb "tie" (to fasten or attach).
To, Too, and Two
The preposition "to" refers to a place, direction, or position. "To" is also used before the verb in an infinitive. The adverb "too" means also or excessively. "Two" refers to the number 2.
Torpid and Torrid
The adjective "torpid" means dull, apathetic, or dormant. The adjective "torrid" means parched, scorched, or highly passionate.
Tortuous and Torturous
The adjective "tortuous" means winding, crooked, complex, or devious, marked by repeated twists and turns. The adjective "torturous" means painful, causing torture, or extremely slow and difficult.
Track and Tract
As a noun, "track" refers to a path, route, or course. The verb "track" means to travel, pursue, or follow. The noun "tract" refers to an expanse of land or water, a system of organs and tissues in the body, or a pamphlet containing a declaration or appeal.
Translucent and Transparent
The commonly confused words "translucent" and "transparent": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Troop and Troupe
As a noun, "troop" refers to a group of soldiers or a collection of people or things. As a verb, "troop" means to move or spend time together. The noun or verb "troupe" refers specifically to a group of theatrical performers.
Trustee and Trusty
The noun "trustee" refers to a person or organization appointed to manage the property or affairs of another person or organization. The adjective "trusty" means reliable or trustworthy.
Flea and Flee
The commonly confused words "flea" and "flee": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Groan and Grown
The verb "groan" means to make a sound expressive of grief, pain, or stress. "Grown" is the past participle form of the verb "grow"--to increase, expand, develop. The adjective "grown" means mature or fully developed.
Vain, Vane, and Vein
The adjective "vain" means conceited or fruitless. The noun "vane" refers to a device for showing wind direction. The noun "vein" refers to a blood vessel, a streak, or a crack.
Vale and Veil
The noun "vale," another word for "valley," appears in the expression "vale of tears." The noun "veil" refers to a length of cloth worn by women over the head and shoulders. As a verb, "veil" means to cover, conceal, or disguise.
Vary and Very
The verb "vary" means to differ, change, or give variety to something. The adverb "very" means truly, absolutely, or extremely.
Venal and Venial
The adjective "venal" means open to bribery or marked by corrupt dealings. The adjective "venial" (as in "venial sin") means minor or readily forgiven.
Veracious and Voracious
The adjective "veracious" means honest or truthful. The adjective "voracious" means greedy or extremely hungry.
Who and Whom
Use "who" when a sentence requires a subject pronoun (equivalent to "he" or "she"). In formal English, use "whom" when a sentence requires an object pronoun (equivalent to "him" or "her").
Wade and Weighed
The verb "wade" means to walk through water or move through any substance that offers resistance. "Weighed" is the past form of the verb "weigh."
Waist and Waste
The noun "waist" refers to the narrow part of the body between the ribs and hips. The verb "waste" means to use or spend thoughtlessly. As a noun, "waste" means unwanted material or barren land.
Wait and Weight
Here we look at definitions and examples of the homophones "wait" and "weight."
Waive and Wave
The verb "waive" means to defer, dispense with, or give up (a claim or right) voluntarily. The verb "wave" means to make a signal with the hand or to move freely back and forth.
Ware, Wear, and Where
The noun "ware" means merchandise or (usually in the plural) things of the same kind that are for sale. The verb "wear" has several meanings. The adverb "where" refers to a place.
Way and Weigh
The noun "way" has several meanings, including a route, a course of action, a method, a direction, and a condition. The verb "weigh" means to determine the weight of something, to measure out, or to consider carefully.
Weak and Week
The adjective "weak" means lacking in force, strength, power, or volume. The noun "week" refers to a period of seven days.
Weather and Whether
The commonly confused words "weather" and "whether": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Were, We're, and Where
"Were" is a past form of the verb "to be." "We're" is a contraction of "we are." "Where" refers to a place.
Wet and Whet
The adjective "wet" means consisting of or soaked with liquid. The verb "whet" means to sharpen, excite, or stimulate.
Which and Who
Who, Which, and That: definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises
Whine and Wine
The commonly confused words "whine" and "wine": definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
Whoever and Whomever
In the manner of "who" and "whom," use "whoever" when a sentence requires a subject pronoun; use "whom" when a sentence requires an object pronoun.
Whose and Who's
"Whose" is the possessive form of "who." "Who's" is the contraction of "who is."
Yoke and Yolk
The noun "yoke" refers to bondage, servitude, or something that binds or connects. As a verb, "yoke" means to join together. The noun "yolk" refers to the yellow part of an egg.
Young and Youthful
Although these two adjectives have similar meanings, "young" tends to be a neutral statement of fact (in an early stage of life) while "youthful" often suggests the positive qualities of youth (such as good health, freshness, and vitality) and almost always refers to people, not things.
Your and You're
"Your" is the possessive form of "you." "You're" is the contraction of "you are."
Answers to Practice Exercises (Glossary of Usage)
Here are the answers to the short practice exercises that accompany each set of words in our Glossary of Usage.
Fifteen Common Blog Errors & How to Fix Them
Even professional writers get tripped up now and then by some commonly confused words: look-alikes and sound-alikes that our spell checkers will never recognize. Here are 15 of the MOST common commonly confused words.
Lets and Let's
The commonly confused words "lets" and "let's": definitions, examples, and exercises.
Meat, Meet, and Mete
The commonly confused words "meat," "meet," and "mete": definitions, examples, an practice exercises.
Palatable and Palpable
The commonly confused words "palatable" and "palpable": definitions, examples, usage notes, and exercises.
Patience and Patients
The noun "patience" refers to the ability to wait or endure hardship for a long time without becoming upset. The noun "patients" is the plural form of "patient"--someone who receives medical care.
Penultimate and Ultimate
The commonly confused words "penultimate" and "ultimate": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Precipitate and Precipitous
The commonly confused words "precipitate" and "precipitous": definitions, examples, usage notes, and practice exercises.
Prodigy and Protégé
The noun "prodigy" refers to a highly talented young person or to a wondrous event. The noun "protégé" refers to someone whose training or career is advanced by an influential person.
Rapt and Wrapped
The adjective "rapt" means carried away or wholly absorbed. "Wrapped" is the past tense of the verb "wrap," which means to cover, enclose, or bundle.
Sail and Sale
The commonly confused words "sail" and "sale": definitions, examples, and exercises.