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10 commonly confused words in English

Due to the nature of the English language and the fact that it is shared across many different countries natively, there are variations in spellings as well as in pronunciations for words that might be written the same. This causes confusion to many English students around the world. To lend a helping hand we decided to compile a list of such words.

  1. Advice Vs Advise

Often times people believe the difference in spelling is because “advice” is in American English and “advise” is in British English. In reality, the word “advice” is a noun while “advise” is a verb.

Ex: Caroline always gives me good advice. She advised me to learn coding and now I have a new and better job.

  1. Hung Vs Hanged

“Hung” is the past verb of “hang” however “hanged” is also the past of “hang” but in a very particular and gruesome situation.

Ex: We hung some pictures on the wall./ The criminal was sentenced to be hanged.

  1. Complement Vs Compliment

A complement is a word used to describe when two things fit well together.

A compliment is to say something nice about something/someone else.

Ex: That color really complements your eyes. (it’s a good combination)

Jim always compliments the ladies at work. (he tells them how well they do their job.)

  1. Farther Vs Further

This is another word people believe is simply a spelling difference between American and British English. However, there’s an actual difference in use.

Farther is used when talking about physical distance, this is the comparative form. Further is to express distance but when it comes to abstract things such as ideas.

Ex: The Krakow office if farther from the center than the Warsaw office.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.

  1. Affect Vs Effect

Affect is usually a verb and it means to influence something. Effect is a noun as is used to speak of the result of something.

Ex: The heavy rain affected 3 different counties over the course of the week.

The effect of the heavy rain has been devastating for over 120 families in the area.

  1. e.g. Vs i.e.

These 2 Latin abbreviations are often mixed up, however, “e.g.” means “for example” whereas “i.e.” means “that is”.

Ex: Next month I will travel to the biggest capital in Europe, i.e. London.

Next month I will travel to the biggest capital in Europe, e.g. London, Paris.

  1. Enquire Vs Inquire

While both of these terms can be used without any distinction it is worth to note that “Inquire” in the UK has a more official feeling about it.

Ex: John enquired about the job at the law firm.

The commission inquired about the new reforms to the company’s regulations.

  1. Stationary Vs Stationery

Stationary refers to something that doesn’t move. Stationery refers to materials for printing or writing such as high-quality paper.

Ex: The revolving door isn’t working. Now it’s stationary.

We printed the invitation on the best stationery we could find.

  1. Who’s Vs Whose

Who’s is the contraction of “Who is” whereas “Whose” is the question word used to ask who owns something.

Ex: Who’s that girl who sat next to you at the conference?

Whose car do you think that is?

  1. Envelop Vs Envelope

Envelop is a verb and it means to cover or surround. An envelope is a noun and it is a paper container for a letter.

Ex: The city has been enveloped in spurs of criminal activity.

I needed to find an envelope to mail the invitations.