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A Guide To Writing in English: Easily Confused Words

accept :: except

accept
Accept: verb, meaning to receive willingly, to be happy to receive.

Example:

We are happy to accept your invitation to dinner.

except

Except: preposition, meaning ‘with the exception of’ or ‘but’.

Example:

The shop is open every day except Sunday.

adoptive :: adopted

adoptive

Parents are ‘adoptive’

Example:

Mary and Sue are the adoptive parents of Michael.

adopted

Children are ‘adopted’

Example:

Michael was adopted at birth by Mary and Sue.

adverse :: averse

adverse

Bad or unfavorable

Example:

The ship sailed despite the adverse weather conditions.

averse

To strongly dislike or be opposed to something

Example:

I am averse to all forms of violence.

affect :: effect

affect

As a verb: 1. to make a display of liking or using; to put on a pretense of. 2. to cause a change or variation.

Example:

1. She affects the air of a rock star by dressing in leather. 2. Although she is a bit wild it doesn’t affect her ability to study.

effect

As a verb: to cause to come into being. As a noun: an outcome or result.

Example:

1. Stopping smoking has positively effected by health. 2. The effect of stopping smoking is that I am healthier and happier.

all ready :: already

all ready

Totally prepared

Example:

I have packed my suitcases and am all ready to go.

already

Before or previously

Example:

I have already visited Spain.

all together :: altogether

all together

All of the objects, or people are in a single group

Example:

1. We put the English speakers all together in the class. 2. All together there are thirty of them.

altogether

Completely, usually, ‘on the whole’

Example:

I am not altogether sure that I understand. They seem to be learning a different meaning altogether.

allot :: a lot

allot

A given period of time or quantity of something

Example:

We were allotted one hour to visit the Louvre during our tour of Paris.

a lot

A large quantity of something (see countable / uncountable nouns in the OEG)

Example:

There are a lot of paintings in the Louvre.

allusion :: illusion

allusion

An indirect reference to something

Example:

The tour guide alluded to the terrible hardship suffered by the pioneers.

illusion

A fantasy that may be or can be confused with reality

Example:

Although sawing the woman in half seemed real, it was only a clever illusion.

See also: delusion / illusion

altar :: alter

altar

An area, usually in the form of a table, where religious worship and sacrifices take place.

Example:

The ancient Aztecs used to offer human sacrifices on their altars.

alter

To change

Example:

They altered the roads in the city center to make them pedestrian only.

ambiguous :: ambivalent

ambiguous

Having more than one meaning, open to different interpretations

Example:

Saying that there are fewer unemployed but that number of people without jobs has increased is very ambiguous.

ambivalent

Having mixed feelings

Example:

He was neither for nor against the new immigration laws – he maintained a very ambivalent attitude.

among :: between

among

Preposition used with three or more persons or things

Example:

Among the thirty candidates for the job there were only three that were properly qualified.

between

Preposition used with two persons or things

Example:

Between Jill and her sister there is a two-year age difference.

amoral :: immoral

amoral

Not concerned with morality

Example:

The Law is considered to be amoral – but this is highly questionable.

immoral

Not conforming to accepted standards of morality

Example:

Profiting from other people’s ignorance is considered to be immoral.

appraise :: apprise

appraise

To assess

Example:

The insurance inspector appraised the damage after the fire destroyed the house.

apprise

To inform

Example:

There was no indication that he was apprised of the consequences before he lit the fire.

augur :: auger

augur

A sign of (a likely outcome) – often used in relation to interpreting the future

Example:

Finding a four-leafed clover is a good augur for the future.

auger

A tool for making holes

Example:

The carpenter used an auger to drill the holes for the chair legs.

award :: reward

award

To bestow, a public recognition of honor

Example:

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his services to the music industry.

reward

To compensate

Example:

There is a $250,000 reward for the capture of the murderer being offered by the police.

 

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