By nwaeke • 2 months ago • 3772 • 991

It happens to everyone, perhaps you writing a paper or chatting a friend and have to ask yourself, "Is it ‘borrow’ me or ‘lend’ me? A lot or Allot?" Every now and then, even the most experienced writers have to stop and check a dictionary or Google search to be assured of the correct use of the words.

There is no doubt that we normally come across some English words that make us to be bewildered, they either look alike, sound alike or, worst of all, look and sound alike, but have completely different meanings (homonyms)

For the fact that knowledge is inevitable on all human beings, and learning is a continuous process, I hereby present 30+ commonly confused words below, which may save you from searching on Google every time.

Accept vs. Except

Accept (verb) - to receive

Example: Please accept my condolence, said the man.

Except (conjunction) - apart from; otherwise than; were it not true

Example: I answered all the exam questions except number 7, it was very difficult.

Affect vs. Effect

These two are tricky because each word can act as both a noun and a verb. While it's common to see "affect" working as a verb and "effect" working as a noun, both can operate as different parts of speech. Let's take a look:

Affect (verb) - to have an effect on; influence; produce a change in; to stir the emotions

Example: The dog's death affected his owners.

Affect (noun) - feeling or emotion, as it relates to psychology

Example: One of the telltale signs of love is persistent positive affect.

Effect (verb) - to create or to cause

Example: The present government is trying to effect positive change in the people of Nigeria.

Effect (noun) - anything brought about by a cause or agent; result

Example: The partial lock-down in the State has little effect on the spread of COVID-19.

All Intensive Purposes vs. All Intents and Purposes

"All intensive purpose" is an incorrect use of the phrase "all intents and purposes."

"All intents and purposes" is a phrase that means "for all practical purposes" or "under most usual situations."

Example: For all intents and purposes, she planned to buy the refrigerator but still wanted to check the reviews.

A Lot vs. Allot

A lot (noun phrase) - many

Example: A lot of students are currently writing WAEC Exams.

Note - "A lot" is always two separate words. "Alot" is not a real word.

Allot (verb) - to distribute, give or assign

Example: Ten minutes were allotted to each of the participants in the debate.

Allusion vs. Illusion

Allusion (noun) - an indirect reference

Example: The Austin Powers movies often make allusions to the James Bond films.

Illusion (noun) - a false idea or conception; belief or opinion not in accord with the facts; an unreal, deceptive, or misleading appearance or image

Example: Most photographic illusions look like real images.

 Awhile vs. A While

Awhile (adverb) - for a while; for a short time

Example: The guests planned to stay awhile.

A while (noun) - for a short time; when "while" is used as the object of the preposition (i.e., for a while), then the "a" is separated from the "while"

Example: The guests planned to stay for a while.

Bad vs. Badly

Bad (adjective) - not good

Example: The food smells bad.

Badly (adverb) - not well; in a bad manner; harmfully; incorrectly; wickedly; unpleasantly

Example: Kenny plays tennis very badly.

Borrow vs. Lend

Borrow (verb) - to take or accept something for a short time with the intention of returning it to its rightful owner

Example: May I borrow a pencil, please?

Lend (verb) - to give something for a short time with the intention of getting it back

Example: Would you please lend me a pencil?

Breath vs. Breathe

Breath (noun) - air taken into the lungs and then let out

Example: Take a deep breath.

Breathe (verb) - to inhale and exhale

Example: Just calm down and breathe.

One way to differentiate between the two is to remember that the noun, breath, is pronounced with an EH vowel sound, as in "bed." Meanwhile, breathe is pronounced with an EE vowel sound, as in "sheen."

 Complement vs. Compliment

Complement (noun) - that which completes or brings to perfection; (verb) - to make complete

Example: Red wine is a nice complement to a steak dinner.

Compliment (noun) - something said in admiration, praise, or flattery; (verb) - to pay a compliment to; congratulate

Example: She gave me a nice compliment when she said I looked thin.

Comprise vs. Compose

Comprise (verb) - to include; to contain; to consist of; to be composed of

Example: The classroom comprises of 100 pupils.

Compose (verb) - to form in combination; make up; constitute

Example: Thirty three local government councils compose Oyo State.

Desert vs. Dessert

Desert (verb) - to forsake or abandon; to leave without permission; to fail when needed

Example: Soldiers should not desert their posts.

Desert (noun) - dry, barren, sandy region

Example: The largest desert in the world is the Sahara.

Dessert (noun) - a sweet course served at the end of a meal

Example: Fruit makes a healthy dessert after lunch or dinner.

Done vs. Did

Done (adjective) - completed; sufficiently cooked

Example: The food is done!

Done (verb) - the past participle of do

Example: After an hour, the roast was done.

Did (verb) - past tense of do

Example: The children did not want to leave the playground.

Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit (verb) - to draw forth; evoke

Example: The teacher elicited answers from the students.

Illicit (adjective) - unlawful; illegal

Example: Many youths are now into illicit acts.

Hone vs. Home

Hone (verb) - to sharpen; to yearn or long for; to grumble or moan

Example: Practicing the piano daily is a good way to hone your skills.

Home (noun) - dwelling; place where a person lives

Example: After the long drive, we were all ready to be home and asleep.

Imitated vs. Intimated

Imitated (verb) - past tense of the verb imitate, which means to seek to follow the example of; impersonate; mimic

Example: The toddler imitated the dog by crawling on hands and knees and barking.

Intimated (verb) - to make known indirectly; to hint or imply

Example: The pirate intimated that he knew where the treasure was buried.

In a Sense vs. In Essence

In a sense (idiom) - in a way; in one way of looking at it

Example: In a sense, computers have been a boon to society.

In essence (idiom) - by nature; essentially

Example: The cat is, in essence, quiet and timid.

Its vs. It's

Its (possessive pronoun) - of, belonging to, made by, or done by it

Example: The dog will only eat its food when I am also eating.

It's (contraction) of it + is

Example: It's a very strange dog.

Lead vs. Led

Lead (noun) - a heavy, soft, malleable, bluish-gray metallic chemical element used in batteries and in numerous alloys and compounds

I think it was Mrs. White in the billiard room with the lead pipe.

Led (verb) - past tense and past participle of the verb "to lead"

The two coaches have each led their teams to numerous championships.

Lose vs. Loose

Lose (verb) - to become unable to find; to mislay; to fail to win or gain

Example: If Arsenal loses their match again, I will stop supporting them?

How many games did your team lose last season?

Loose (adjective) - not tight; giving enough room

Example: I've lost twenty pounds, and now these jeans are really loose.

More/Most Importantly vs. More/Most Important

More/most importantly - a phrase used often in writing to show emphasis; however, many grammarians insist that this is not correct usage. The adverbial ending of -ly is not needed.

Example: More/most important - Use this phrase instead.

The most important part of story is the ending.

Example: Even more important than that, you need to be nicer to one another.

Passed vs. Past

Passed (verb) - past tense of the verb "to pass"

Example: I think we passed the store. Let's turn around and go back.

Past (adjective) - of a former time; bygone; (noun) - the time that has gone by; days, months, or years gone by

Example: In the past, I've gotten lost a lot, but this time, I know where we are.

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