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Commonly Confused Words

Words that sound alike or look alike (moral/morale) often confuse students, especially those using spell checkers. This lengthy list of commonly confused words with simple definitions will help you decide which spelling fits your sentence.

accept: to receive
except: with the exclusion of

advice: recommendation (noun)
advise: to recommend (verb)

adverse: unfavorable
averse: opposed to

affect: to influence (verb); emotional response (noun)
effect: result (noun); to cause (verb)

aisle: space between rows
isle: island

allude: to make indirect reference to
elude: to avoid

allusion: indirect reference
illusion: false idea, misleading appearance

already: by this time
all ready: fully prepared

altar: sacred platform or place
alter: to change

altogether: thoroughly
all together: everyone/everything in one place

a lot: a quantity; many of something
allot: to divide or portion out

angel: supernatural being, good person
angle: shape made by joining two straight lines

are: plural form of "to be"
our: plural form of "my"

accent: pronunciation common to a region
ascent: the act of rising or climbing
assent: consent, agreement

assistance: help
assistants: helpers

bare: nude, unadorned
bear: to carry; an animal

beside: close to; next to
besides: except for; in addition

boar: a wild male pig
bore: to drill a hole through

board: piece of wood
bored: uninterested

born: brought into life
borne: past participle of "to bear" (carry)

breath: air taken in (noun)
breathe: to take in air (verb)

brake: device for stopping
break: destroy; make into pieces

buy: to purchase
by: next to; through the agency of

canvas: heavy cloth
canvass: to take a survey; a survey

capital: major city
capitol: government building

choose: to pick
chose: past tense of "to choose"

clothes: garments
close: to shut; near
cloths: pieces of fabric

coarse: rough
course: path; series of lectures

complement: something that completes
compliment: praise, flattery

conscience: sense of morality
conscious: awake, aware

corps: regulated group
corpse: dead body

council: governing body
counsel: advice; to give advice

dairy: place where milk products are processed
diary: personal journal

descent: downward movement
dissent: disagreement

dessert: final, sweet course in a meal
desert: to abandon; dry, sandy area

device: a plan; a tool or utensil
devise: to create

discreet: modest, prudent behavior
discrete: a separate thing, distinct

do: a verb indicating performance or execution of a task
dew: water droplets condensed from air
due: as a result of

dominant: commanding, controlling
dominate: to control

die: to lose life; one of a pair of dice
dye: to change or add color

dyeing: changing or adding color
dying: losing life

elicit: to draw out
illicit: illegal, forbidden

eminent: prominent
imminent: about to happen

envelop: to surround (verb)
envelope: container for a letter (noun)

everyday: routine, commonplace, ordinary (adj.)
every day: each day, succession (adj. + noun)

fair: just, honest; a carnival; light skinned;
fare: money for transportation; food

farther: at a greater (measurable) distance
further: in greater (non-measurable) depth

formally: conventionally, with ceremony
formerly: previously

forth: forward
fourth: number four in a list

gorilla: animal in ape family
guerrilla: soldier specializing in surprise attacks

hear: to sense sound by ear
here: in this place

heard: past tense of "to hear"
herd: group of animals

hoard: a hidden fund or supply, a cache
horde: a large group or crowd, swarm

hole: opening
whole: complete; an entire thing

human: relating to the species homo sapiens
humane: compassionate

its: possessive form of "it"
it's: contraction for "it is"

knew: past tense of "know"
new: fresh, not yet old

know: to comprehend
no: negative

later: after a time
latter: second one of two things

lead: heavy metal substance; to guide
led: past tense of "to lead"

lessen: to decrease
lesson: something learned and/or taught

lightning: storm-related electricity
lightening: making lighter

loose: unbound, not tightly fastened
lose: to misplace

maybe: perhaps (adv.)
may be: might be (verb)

meat: animal flesh
meet: to encounter
mete: to measure; to distribute

medal: a flat disk stamped with a design
meddle: to interfere, intrude
metal: a hard organic substance
mettle: courage, spirit, energy

miner: a worker in a mine
minor: underage person (noun); less important (adj.)

moral: distinguishing right from wrong; lesson of a fable or story
morale: attitude or outlook usually of a group

passed: past tense of "to pass"
past: at a previous time

patience: putting up with annoyances
patients: people under medical care

peace: absence of war
piece: part of a whole; musical arrangement

peak: point, pinnacle, maximum
peek: to peer through or look furtively
pique: fit of resentment, feeling of wounded vanity

pedal: the foot lever of a bicycle or car
petal: a flower segment
peddle: to sell

personal: intimate; owned by a person
personnel: employees

plain: simple, unadorned
plane: to shave wood; aircraft (noun)

precede: to come before
proceed: to continue

presence: attendance; being at hand
presents: gifts

principal: foremost (adj.); administrator of a school (noun)
principle: moral conviction, basic truth

quiet: silent, calm
quite: very

rain: water drops falling; to fall like rain
reign: to rule
rein: strap to control an animal (noun); to guide or control (verb)

raise: to lift up
raze: to tear down

rational: having reason or understanding
rationale: principles of opinion, beliefs

respectfully: with respect
respectively: in that order

reverend: title given to clergy; deserving respect
reverent: worshipful

right: correct; opposite of left
rite: ritual or ceremony
write: to put words on paper

road: path
rode: past tense of "to ride"

scene: place of an action; segment of a play
seen: viewed; past participle of "to see"

sense: perception, understanding
since: measurement of past time; because

sight: scene, view, picture
site: place, location
cite: to document or quote (verb)

stationary: standing still
stationery: writing paper

straight: unbending
strait: narrow or confining; a waterway

taught: past tense of "to teach"
taut: tight

than: used to introduce second element; compared to
then: at that time; next

their: possessive form of "they"
there: in that place
they’re: contraction for "they are"

through: finished; into and out of
threw: past tense of "to throw"
thorough: complete

to: toward
too: also; very (used to show emphasis)
two: number following one

track: course, road
tract: pamphlet; plot of ground

waist: midsection of the body
waste: discarded material; to squander

waive: forgo, renounce
wave: flutter, move back and forth

weak: not strong
week: seven days

weather: climatic condition
whether: if
wether: a neutered male sheep

where: in which place
were: past tense of "to be"

which: one of a group
witch: female sorcerer

whose: possessive for "of who"
who’s: contraction for "who is"

your: possessive for "of you"
you’re: contraction for "you are"
yore: time long past

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