W4: Use the right word. 

Below are 157 of the most commonly confused words.

This list does not include every possible misused word!


accept – to take willingly.  do not confuse with except

affect - to influence, to cause a change.  Do not confuse with effect

aggravate--to make worse.  Do not confuse with irritate

agree to--give consent or approval

agree with--to have the same opinion

allot – to ration or give out

allowed - permitted.  Do not confuse with aloud

allusion – a reference to a story, play, or poem.  Do not confuse with illusion

aloud - out loud.  do not confuse with allowed

amount of--use with quantities that cannot be counted.  Do not confuse with number of

anxious --worrying; nervous.  Do not confuse with eager, which means can't wait; want to get at it. 

Band – a group of musicians; don’t confuse with banned. 

bare - naked, exposed, uncovered

barely--hardly, scarcely

barley-- a grain

barrow – a type of grave; don’t confuse with borrow.

bear-1 a heavy, carnivorous mammal

         2-to put up with, to suffer

brake - part of a vehicle that stops it

break – 1 to smash, crack or split

             2 – time off

bread – to make sandwiches with

bred – to bring up colts, puppies, etc. 

buy – purchase

by – near, who did it,

bye - goodbye

censor--to prevent from being published, sold,  and read. 

censure--to correct with stern words. 

cereal – 1 grain

               2 breakfast food. 

don’t confuse with serial

cite --to refer to.  do not confuse with site or sight

climactic--having to do with the climax of the story. 

climatic--having to do with long-term weather conditions. 

close-to shut. 

clothes-what people wear. 

cloths-the plural of cloth

coarse--rough.  Do not confuse with course

collage - art made of small pictures put together

college -- a university or academy

complement--goes with. 

compliment--flattery; a kind word. 

conscience--that little spark within that guides us. 


course--path or direction; a curriculum.  Used in the phrase, “of course.”  Do not confuse with coarse


crowd- many people

crowed- what the rooster did

defiantly – done with disrespect for authority

definitely – without a doubt

desert – wasteland, wilderness

dessert – an after-dinner sweet

dew – wetness on the ground in the morning

dint – a dent, impression, or dimple

die, died, dying--the end of life

die, died, dieing –to use a tool called a die

dye, dyed, dyeing--to color or stain

do – the simplest verb of action - do it!

does - a form of “do” – I do, he does. 

dose - a measurement of medicine or poison. 

due – caused by due to the weather

effect - the result of a change; a special effectdo not confuse with affect

ensure--to take precaution.  do not confuse with insure

except - excluding; everything but this.  do not confuse with accept

exited, exiting--having left, leaving

excited, exciting--stirred up emotionally

fair – 1 equal, unbiased

           2 blonde, pale

           3 a place to show livestock

fallow – to let alone for awhile, especially a field.  Do no confuse with follow.

fare – a price to pay: taxi fare

farther – beyond; do not confuse with further. 

fewer – use with quantities that can be counted.  Do not confuse with less

further – additional, more, added; do not confuse with farther. 

go, goes – does not mean said. 

haft - a handle of a knife or sword

hopefully--done with hope; cannot be replaced with I hope that…

idol--a statue of a god or goddess

idle--not doing work

illusion--a deceptive sight.  Do not confuse with allusion

imminent --about to happen.  Do not confuse with eminent

impact--1 to collide at high speed;

              2 a dental condition. 

insure--to take out a policy against disaster, or death; not the same as ensure 

kind of--this means a type of, as in "a hammerhead is a kind of shark.”  This phrase does not mean a little or somewhat. 

lay--done to something: the hen lays an egg, has laid an egg, is laying an egg.  do not confuse with lie

lead--a dull, gray metal known for being heavy and poisonous 

led --to be guided. 

less --use with quantities that cannot be counted.  Do not confuse with fewer

liable--legally responsible.  Do not confuse with likely


lie –it just lies there, is just lying there, has merely lain there all year.  do not confuse with lay

literally--actually happened.  Don’t write, "He was literally dead with fatigue" unless the character is no longer breathing. 

loose - something that is not tied down or caged:  the dog is loose

lose - to misplace: don’t lose this money.   

lot  - either a place to park a car or a place to build a house. 

many - use with amounts that can be counted; use much with amounts that can’t. 

miners – diggers for ore

minors – underage people or players on a lesser league

minuet - a musical piece. 

minute - usually a measurement of time; but can also mean tiny

much—use with amounts that can’t be counted; use many with amounts that can.   

paid – gave out money

passed - to go ahead of. 

past - already happened. 

patients – under the care of a doctor

patience – ability to wait

payed – gave out rope

pier--a dock or wharf

peer--those people that are one's equals

pole – an upright rod

Pole - a person from Poland

poll  - a gathering of opinions

poses--he poses for the camera. 

possess--to own  

posses—those groups the sheriff rounds up when he chases villains. 

precede--what came before.  Do not confuse with proceed

principal - the primarily important part; authority in a school. 

principle - a guideline of life; a code or standard to be met. 

proceed --go ahead.  do not confuse with precede

quiet – without noise

quite – just so

quote --(verb).  quotation --(noun). 

reticules – purses with drawstrings

ridicules – makes fun of

ridiculous – absurd, outrageous

right – 1 correct

              2 opposite of left 

              3 legal freedoms

rite – a ceremony  or ritual

role – a part to play, a position

roll – to revolve or turn over



sacred - holy

scared – frightened

scarred – having scars

sense – the 5 senses (sight, hearing, etc.) or common sense.  Don’t confuse with since. 

serial – one after another.  Don’t confuse with cereal. 

set--done with the hands.  Don’t confuse with sit

sight – vision.  Do not confuse with site or cite

Since – from that time on.  Don’t confuse with sense. 

sit--done with the butt.  Don’t confuse with set

site--a place.  Do not confuse with cite or sight

sort of--this means a type of, as in "what sort of dessert do you plan to make?"  This phrase does not mean a little or somewhat. 

steel – a metal

steal – taking what doesn’t belong to you

Steelers – a football team or steel-workers

summery – like summer

summary – shortened version that sums up

sure and --slangy; avoid writing, "be sure and do it."  Instead, write, "be sure to do it.  " 

through – he went through the tunnel. 

threw – he threw the ball. 

wander – to roam; to move about without a destination; don’t confuse with wonder

waste-- to destroy without using

waist --the middle of the body

way – 1 a path or course

           2 a method or process

      this word never means excessively, tremendously, immensely, extremely, etc. 

weather - rain, snow, or sun.  Do not confuse with whether

where – this word must always refer to a place. 

whether - depending on.  Do not confuse with weather

which – which one?

who's –who is here? 

whose –whose car is here? 

witch – enchantress; an evil or ill-tempered person; don’t confuse with which. 

write – to draw letters on paper.  don’t confuse with rite or right

wonder – speculate, consider, contemplate, or reflect on; don’t confuse with wander

vane--shows the direction of the wind

vain—1 conceited; obsessed with self

vain— 2 without reason or without success. 

vein—1 carries blood

           2 an underground “stream” of ore


17 b)

Choose Words Carefully

a) Choose correctly between a, an, and the. 


b) Do not confuse adjectives and adverbs. 

He treats his men badly, not bad. 

She does that very well not very good



17 c) Choose the usual preposition


Incorrect example

Correct examples


anxious of

anxious about


bored of

bored with

bored by


center around

center on, in or upon



Confused about


different than

different from



prefer this to that


show respect of people

show respect to people


be respectful to things

be respectful of things


superior than

superior to



What is your view on this topic



View of the landscape


surprised of

Surprised by