10 Commonly Confused Words

Want to Sound Smart? Conquer these commonly confused words

In today’s business world, it’s all about image. Not just how we dress, how we look, what we drive, but also how we sound–both in person and on paper.

Let’s face it: the English language is full of commonly confused words. Sometimes we mix them up out of pure laziness or maybe we just don’t know the difference. Whatever the reason, here are 10 word groups to conquer and get you on your way to sounding smarter.

About/Approximately

About is preferred in most contexts. (The house is about 50 feet from the curb.)
However, approximately is ideal for scientific usage. (Approximately two-thirds of the earth is covered with water.)

 

Abstruse/Obtuse

Obtuse describes a person who cannot understand.
Abstruse describes an idea that is hard to understand.

 

Accord/Accordance

Accord is a verb meaning to bring to agreement or to grant/give consent.
Accordance is a noun meaning an agreement or conformity.

 

Amid/Among/Between

Amid is used with mass nouns (amid the fighting).
Among is used with the plurals of countable nouns (among the townsfolk).
Between indicates a one-to-one relationship (between you and me).

Avoid using amidst and amongst.

 

Capital/Capitol

A capital is a governmental entity, usually a city. (The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh.)
A capitol is a legislative building. (The U.S. Congress meets at the capitol in Washington, D.C.)

 

Collaborate/Corroborate

Collaborate means to work with other, usually in an intellectual endeavor. (The teacher and students collaborated on a class project.)
Corroborate means to support or make more certain with evidence. (The prosecution called on a forensics expert to corroborate the witness’ testimony.)

 

Imply/Infer

The best way to distinguish these two words is to answer the question, “Who is performing the action?”

A speaker or writer implies (suggests).
A listener or reader infers (deduces).

 

Loath/Loathe

Loath is an adjective meaning reluctant. (He is loath to admit he is wrong.)
Loathe is a verb meaning to detest something or regard with disgust. (She loathes all types of seafood.)

 

Toward/Towards

The preferred use in American English is singular (without the –s). However, when in Britain, please use the –s on the end. The same is true for similar words: forward, backward, upward, downward, and afterward.

 

Wrong/Wrongful

These words are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.
Wrong pertains to being immoral/unlawful or incorrect/improper/unsatisfactory. (It is wrong to bully another person.)
Wrongful means unfair/unjust or having no legal right. (The victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.)

 

What words do you confuse?

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2 Responses to 10 Commonly Confused Words

  1. Thanks for the mention 🙂 There are some really useful pairs of words here.

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