Confused By Some Words?

How many times have you typed a word only to find that it wasn’t quite the one you thought it was? This happens all the time as we bash out our words on the keyboard, unaware that we should have used the ‘other’ version of a particular word in its place.

Here is a short list of some ‘confusing’ words and their actually meanings (you should be able to find many more by searching on the Internet, some people have reported over 500) –

  • accept – to receive something
  • except – to exclude something
  • advice – to give a suggestion
  • advise – a verb that means to give advice
  • affect – a verb that means to influence in some way
  • effect – a noun that means the result of something
  • all ready – it is prepared
  • already – it happened previously
  • appraise – to value something
  • apprise – to give notice to
  • awhile – an adverb
  • a while – a noun
  • bring – toward you
  • take – away from you
  • choose – to pick now
  • chose – already picked
  • cite – to quote someone or something
  • site – a location
  • compliment – to praise someone
  • complement – goes well with something
  • conscience – self-imposed morality
  • conscious – awake and aware of surroundings
  • e.g. – for example
  • i.e. – that is
  • ensure – to make sure or certain
  • insure – to guarantee against risk of loss or harm
  • everyday – an adjective describing how often
  • every day – each or all
  • farther – a long way off
  • further – also, as well
  • faze – to disturb
  • phase – a cycle
  • flair – talent or aptitude
  • flare – to burn unsteadily
  • flier – to fly
  • flyer – advertising material
  • imply – to indicate or suggest
  • infer – to derive by reasoning
  • later – being after
  • latter – the second mentioned of two
  • lay – to put or place
  • lie – to recline
  • loose – not bound together
  • lose – to be without
  • passed – the past tense of pass
  • past – the time gone by
  • principal – first or highest in rank
  • principle – a guiding sense
  • stationary – not moving
  • stationery – office supplies
  • their – the possessive of they
  • there – location
  • they’re – contraction of they are
  • whose – ownership
  • who’s – contraction of who is or who has

Many of these words sound the same and that is what adds to their confusion. These are sometimes referred to as homophones (there are two, three and four way homophones). And many of these words simply look the same, which also adds to their confusion. Look up some of the following terms on the Internet to get a feel for the different types of words that fall into these groups: homophones, homographs, heteronyms, heterophones, polysemes and capitonyms (just to name a few). It’s no wonder we get confused!

So when in doubt; grab your dictionary. It’s better to check than to guess in most cases. A great, and free, on-line resource is There are many other types of dictionaries on-line, just start searching.

Kristy Taylor is a syndicated freelance journalist with articles and short stories strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of KT Publishing, which encompasses several web sites. For free listings of short story competitions visit

To contact Kristy, email her at

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