In this post, we begin another series—commonly confused words—and there are quite a few of them! We’re still working on our Weird and Wonderful Words series too and have gotten up to O, so be on the lookout for the completion of that series.
But today we turn our attention to those words—or word pairs—that often stump and confuse. We will start at the beginning of the alphabet.
1. Advice/Advise: These two words are different parts of speech and are pronounced differently. In advice, the c has an s sound, and the word is a noun. In advise, the s has a z sound, and the word is a verb. Examples:I have some good advice for you. Could you advise me on this legal matter?
2. Affect/Effect: This troublesome pair is the granddaddy of troublesome! Once again, these words are different parts of speech. Affect is a verb, an action. Effect is a noun, a thing. You can put an article in front of effect (the effect, an effect). Examples:The hot weather has a positive effect on my mood. The hot weather affects me and improves my mood.
3. Allusion/Illusion: These words are both nouns, but have entirely different meanings. An allusion is a reference to something; its verb is to allude. An illusion is something you see that isn’t there, and there is no verb. Examples:He made an allusion to Shakespeare in his speech about playwriting. The water you sometimes think you see ahead on the highway is just an illusion.
4. Almost/Most: The general rule: If you can use almost in a sentence, use it. Don’t use most. When it is correct to use most, almost will not make sense in its place. Example:Almost everyone is here by now. (Don’t say most everyone.) Most of the pizza is gone. (Almost doesn’t make sense there, so use most.)
5. Already/All ready: Already is an adverb that tells when. All ready is an adjective. Example:Is it already time to go? I am all ready to go.
6. Alright/All right: This one is easy. Always use all right as two words. Alright isn’t a word (or is a really slang word, so avoid it). Example:Everything will be all right. All right. I will go with you.
7. Altogether/All together: Altogether means totally or completely.This pair is best shown by example:It is altogether too cold for me! Let’s sing all together! (Or Let’s all sing together, where you split the words.)
8. Among/Between: These two words are both prepositions. Between is used when you are talking about two people or things; among is used when you are referring to more than two people or things. Example:Divide the cake between you and your sister. Divide the cake among the four of you.
9. Anymore/Any more: Anymore is an adverb that tells when and means any longer. Any more means additional. Anymore is generally referred to in a negative sense and sounds wrong when there is no negative in the sentence. Example:I can’t find that type of candy anymore. (negative can’t) I don’t want any more pasta, thank you. I wish I could find that type of candy anymore. (Not correct. No negative in the sentence. Sounds very weird to me, but I hear people say it.)
10. Anyone/Any one: Anyone refers to a person. Any one doesn’t necessarily refer to a person, and is generally followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with of. Example:Anyone can eat the leftover pizza. Any one of you could probably fix the broken chair.
Stay tuned for more confusing words in future blog installments!
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