English Writing

Confused words

Topic status automatically displays here - do not remove.

Add me to your favorites!Bookmark this topic  Print me!Print this topic

There are many english words which are easily confused with one another, either by sounding similar but spelt differently, spelt similar but pronounced differently, misspelt, mispronounced, misheard, misunderstood, or just plain misused and misrepresented.

The following list is a sporadic collection of words I've encountered which have caused me some confusion: 

Affect is the result of an action of a personal nature: "the smoke affected my breathing", whereas effect is the result of an action of an impersonal nature: "the smoke effected the quality of the air". To help differentiate between the two, associate 'affect' with 'affection' (personal), and 'effect' with 'effective' (impersonal).
See opposed/apposed.
Dependent means reliant upon something else (a person of event), whereas dependant (non-US) refers to the person who is depending upon another. Note that dependant is the US spelling meaning dependent.
See affect/effect.
To insure something is to effect insurance against loss in case an event occurs: "to insure it against storm damage or theft". To ensure something, is to make sure that the event does occur: "we have improved our online site to ensure the continued availability of our online services".
Independent is the correct non-US spelling meaning not dependent upon something else. See dependant/dependent.
See ensure/insure.
Opposed is the correct spelling, meaning in opposition to, or in contrast with, something. Do not confuse 'opposition' with 'apposition' meaning placed together or side-by-side.
Separate is the correct spelling, meaning to put or keep apart or divide. Be careful to use 'separate' (as a verb) paired with 'from' or 'separate to' (as an adjective) in a sentence rather than 'separate between' things. Do not confuse usage with 'dissociate' meaning to sever all association with, nor 'different' meaning not the same as.
Sewerage is a network of sewers (piping system), whereas sewage is the effluent and waste which passes through the sewerage.
These words have the exact opposite meanings to each other depending upon whether you apply the US or non-US meaning to them. Trapezium in US, and trapezoid in non-US both mean a quadrilateral with no parallel sides, whereas trapezoid in US, and trapezium in non-US both mean a quadrilateral with only one pair of parallel sides.

See Also

Jump across to different topic Confused Phrases | Jump across to separate topic Word of the Week | Jump across to separate topic Plain English Writing | Jump across to separate topic Technical Writing |
Jump across to separate topic Advanced Technical WritingJump across to separate topic Effective Communication | Jump to site home page Lotech Solutions' Tips, Tricks, and Procedures

Back to Top