Common examples of Confusing Words
Confusing words are usually words that sound very similar but have different meanings and spellings, usually called homophones or homonyms. Examples of these would be the different spellings of 'there', 'where' and 'here'. The reason these are included in a grammar guide is that their spelling is determined by their grammatical usage. To cite one example, 'were', three spellings are in common usage:
- wear is used to indicate the wearing of clothes, jewellery etc.
- where indicates a place or a question
- were is the plural past tense of the verb 'to be'.
(There is also a fourth, additional spelling, the abbreviation of 'we are' i.e. we're.)
A great any people have difficulty with these homophonic words and there is no special secret to how to overcome this, it is simply a matter of learning the spellings in their different grammatical contexts.
Another example of confusing words, however, is when two similar words are used incorrectly. For example, many people think that the words 'imply' and 'infer' are synonymous but they are not:
- imply - means to suggest
- infer - means to deduce.
Another example the words 'affect' and 'effect':
- affect - means to influence
- effect - means a result.
Yet another grammatical confusion is when writers think that nouns and verbs have interchangeable spelling. For example, this occurs in the words 'practice' and ‘practise'; they are commonly assumed to be the same, whereas in fact, 'practice’ is a noun and 'practise' is a verb. Hence:
- I went to see the doctor at his practice.
- I need to practise my dancing.
Clearly, these words are easily confused, and there are far too many to go into every one here, but it is essential that you learn the correct grammatical application of each if you are to achieve the highest grades in your essays so if you have had trouble with a particular word or words then make sure you find out the correct grammatical spelling of confusing words.
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