Commonly Confused Words-Grammar and Composition-Lectue Handout, Exercises for Grammar and Composition. Agra University

Commonly Confused Words-Grammar and Composition-Lectue Handout, Exercises for Grammar and Composition. Agra University

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This lecture handout was provided by Sir Arvind Jayantilal at Agra University for Grammar and Composition course. it includes: Confused, Words, Meaning, Wreath, Accept, Except, Alternative, American, Spellings, Main, Dic...
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Commonly confused words

Take a look at these two sentences – one of them contains a mistake:

I poured over book after book.

We pored over the catalogues.

Are you uncertain which one is right? There are a lot of words in English that look or sound alike but have very different meanings, such

as pore and pour or flaunt and flout. It’s easy to get them confused and most electronic spellcheckers won’t be much help in this type of

situation: they can tell you if a word has been spelled wrongly but they can’t generally flag up the misuse of a correctly spelled word.

Here’s a quick-reference list of pairs of words that regularly cause people problems. The words follow the accepted British English spelling.

Some of them do have alternative American spellings and you will find these at the main dictionary entry on this website.

Word 1MeaningWord 2Meaning

accept to agree to receive

or do

except not including

adverse unfavourable,


averse strongly disliking;


advice recommendations

about what to do

advise to recommend


affect to change or make a

difference to

effect a result; to bring about

a result

aisle a passage between

rows of seats

isle an island

all together all in one place, all

at once

altogether completely; on the


along moving or


horizontally on

a long referring to something

of great length

aloud out loud allowed permitted

altar a sacred table in a


alter to change

amoral not concerned with

right or wrong

immoral not following accepted

moral standards

appraise to assess apprise to inform someone

assent agreement,


ascent the action of rising or

climbing up

aural relating to the ears

or hearing

oral relating to the mouth;


balmy pleasantly warm barmy foolish, crazy

bare naked; to uncover bear to carry; to put up with

bated in phrase

'with batedbreath',

i.e. in great


baited with bait attached or


bazaar a Middle Eastern


bizarre strange

berth a bunk in a ship,

train, etc.

birth the emergence of a

baby from the womb

born having started life borne carried

bough a branch of a tree bow to bend the head; the

front of a ship

brake a device for

stopping a vehicle;

to stop a vehicle

break to separate into pieces;

a pause

breach to break through, or

break a rule; a gap

breech the back part of a gun


broach to raise a subject for


brooch a piece of jewellery

canvas a type of strong


canvass to seek people’s votes

censure to criticize strongly censor to ban parts of a book

or film; a person who

does this

cereal a grass producing

an edible grain; a

breakfast food

made from grains

serial happening in a series

chord a group of musical


cord a length of string; a

cord-like body part

climactic forming a climax climatic relating to climate

coarse rough course a direction; a school

subject; part of a meal

complacent smug and self-


complaisant willing to please

complement to add to so as to

improve; an

addition that



compliment to praise or express

approval; an admiring


council a group of people

who manage or


counsel advice; to advise

cue a signal for action;

a wooden rod

queue a line of people or


curb to keep something kerb (in British English) the

in check; a control

or limit

stone edge of a


currant a dried grape current happening now; a flow

of water, air, or


defuse to make a situation

less tense

diffuse to spread over a wide


desert a waterless, empty

area; to abandon


dessert the sweet course of a


discreet careful not to attract


discrete separate and distinct

disinterested impartial uninterested not interested

draught a current of air draft a first version of a

piece of writing

draw an even score at the

end of a game

drawer a sliding storage


dual having two parts duel a fight or contest

between two people

elicit to draw out a reply

or reaction

illicit not allowed by law or


ensure to make certain that

something will


insure to provide

compensation if a

person dies or property

is damaged

envelop to cover or


envelope a paper container for a


exercise physical activity; to

do physical activity

exorcise to drive out an evil


fawn a young deer; light


faun a mythical being, part

man, part goat

flaunt to display


flout to disregard a rule

flounder to move clumsily;

to have difficulty

doing something

founder to fail

forbear to refrain forebear an ancestor

foreword an introduction to a


forward onwards, ahead

freeze to turn to ice frieze a decoration along a


grisly gruesome, revolting grizzly a type of bear

hoard a store horde a large crowd of


imply to suggest indirectly infer to draw a conclusion

loath reluctant, unwilling loathe to hate

loose to unfasten; to set


lose to be deprived of; to be

unable to find

meter a measuring device metre a metric unit; rhythm

in verse

militate to be a powerful

factor against

mitigate to make less severe

palate the roof of the


palette a board for mixing


pedal a foot-operated


peddle to sell goods

pole a long, slender

piece of wood

poll voting in an election

pour to flow or cause to


pore a tiny opening; to

study something


practice the use of an idea or

method; the work

or business of a

doctor, dentist, etc.

practise to do something

repeatedly to gain skill;

to do something


prescribe to authorize use of

medicine; to order


proscribe to officially forbid


principal most important; the

head of a school

principle a fundamental rule or


sceptic a person inclined to


septic infected with bacteria

sight the ability to see site a location

stationary not moving stationery writing materials

storey a level of a building story a tale or account

titillate to arouse interest titivate to make more


tortuous full of twists;


torturous full of pain or suffering

wreath a ring-shaped

arrangement of

flowers etc.

wreathe to surround or encircle

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