Commonly Confused Words in English

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: English is a tough (hard) language to learn. So if you’ve decided to take on the challenge of learning English, good for you! You deserve a pat on the back (to be congratulated). One of the most difficult things about learning English is all of the commonly confused words. This can even be tough for native speakers!

 

If you’re learning English, and even if you’re a native speaker looking to freshen up your vocabulary, these commonly confused words are great to have down pat (learn perfectly, know well). Or try out these commonly mispronounced words.

 

Bath/bathe

 

Along with breath and breathe, bath and bathe are two words that are commonly confused. Are you trying right now to pronounce them, too??

 

A bath (noun)is how you clean yourself in a tub. When you say, “I’m going to take a bath,” you’re going to go either relax in the tub for a little while, and/or clean yourself.

 

To bathe, on the other hand, is the verb form of bath, and is the act of cleaning yourself. You can say, “I bathed myself in the bath,” to mean that you cleaned yourself in the tub (although you probably won’t hear anyone say it that way).

 

This pattern of noun and verb is the same with the words breath and breathe. A breath is the inhale and exhale you take in order to help yourself stay alive, and to breathe is the act of taking a breath. You can see your breath sometimes when it’s cold outside as you breathe out warm air.

 

Accept/Except

 

“I would accept your offer, except I have already taken another job for more money.” Can you spot the difference in this example?

 

To accept something is to agree to something or to receive something. If you accept a job offer, you agree to work for that company, for example. You also can accept a package from the mail carrier.

 

Except is a word meaning “not including.” So if you’re ordering something in a restaurant, but don’t like tomatoes, you can ask the server if you could get everything on the burger except for tomatoes.

 

Advice/Advise

 

These can be particularly tricky commonly confused words for native and non-native speakers alike (both, the same), as the spelling is almost identical. However, the pronunciations are the key here.

 

To give advice (which rhymes with mice) is when you suggest to someone what you think they should do or what should be done in a certain situation. Giving advice can also be in the form of words of encouragement (support), telling someone that they are doing well or handling the situation correctly when you’re telling them.

 

To advise (rhymes with eyes) someone is the act of giving someone advice. You seek a tax or financial advisor when you start to put together your tax declaration or consider investing in the stock market.

 

Along/a long

 

Have you ever walked along a long river? It can be a very calming activity, if you have the opportunity!

 

Along is to move beside something, or to move extend horizontally onwards, while a long describes the length of something.

 

Altar/alter

 

When I would go to Mass as a kid, sometimes I would walk in and see that the altar had been altered, usually around Easter or Christmas time.

 

An altar is a sacred table that religious services are usually held in front of in a church or temple. Some people have smaller altars in their homes, where they put things of significance in their religion or images that are special to them.

 

To alter something, however, is to change how it looks. For example, I alter the way my hair looks quite often, meaning that I change the style or color.

 

Are there some words that you are commonly confused by? Share them with us in the comments below, and maybe we’ll write a part two!

 

 

 

 

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Check out these other popular blogs: Taboo words in English7 Synonyms for Being Drunk7 American English Slang Words, or these Sports Idioms used in English!

 

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and would advise you all to get professional advice on your English- contact us today for a free trial lesson! 

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