English Words that are often Confused #1

I have written two posts recently on Spelling Mistakes that Ruin your Writing. They are a small number of mistakes which are easily fixed as soon as you understand the grammar. Don’t worry! The grammar is basic and easily understood.

Today, I’m starting a much longer list of common mistakes. These are words that native speakers use incorrectly. This is the first of several posts on English Words that are often Confused. I hope you find my explanations helpful.

I will list the confusing words in alphabetical order. Today, I’m dealing with ‘A’. If you would like to receive all my future posts explaining confusing words, just click on ‘Follow’.

https://unsplash.com/photos/-9JAqVxg3vs

Looking at baby animals, especially baby elephants, usually has a positive effect on people.

Let’s have a look at some confusing words:                  

a) advice, advise           
     b) affect, effect
c) agree with, agree to, agree on
     d) alternate, alternative           
e) among, between
     f) anticipate, expect           
g) approve, approve of

 

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a) advice, advise

advice  –  noun

Do you think this is good advice?

My advice is to look at the spelling. The word ‘advice’ contains the word ‘ice’ which is also a noun.

We often need advice from an expert.

We sometimes receive the best advice when we least expect it.

     

         ♦ advise  –  verb

Did your parents advise you to save your money?

Who advises the football coach?

I advise you to keep reading.

 

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 b) affect, effect


affect   verb (used with object: this means that the subject  affects something or someone)

In France, the extremely cold winter of 2018-2019 affected many vineyards
Do you believe that your thinking affects your actions?         樂 

 

effect   noun

Looking at baby animals, especially baby elephants, usually has a positive effect on people.

Were you impressed with the special effects used in the movie Avatar?

 

Note: ‘Effect’can also be used as a verb but take care. While ‘affect means ‘to change’, ‘effect’ means ‘to bring about/cause’ a change. It is usually used in formal speaking and writing. I advise consulting a dictionary if you wish to use ‘effect’ as a verb.

The President hopes to effect new laws to deal with drug trafficking.

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c) agree with, agree to, agree on

Do you agree with Satya Nani that a little progress each day adds up to big results?

agree with  someone

I agree withSatya Nani that “A little progress each day adds up to big results”.

agree to  something, usually a plan or scheme.

I should never have agreed to look after his stupid dog!

agree on a choice or result with other people

Sheldon and Amy agreed to get married but they couldn’t agree on when or where, nor could they agree on whom to invite to their wedding.

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d) alternate, alternative

alternate – verb meaning to change first one, then the other; repeatedly and regularly

https://unsplash.com/photos/3TRdlKU-3II

LETHARGY

Many of us alternate between motivation and lethargy.

alternate adjective

I do shopping and housework on alternate weekends.

 

alternative noun which indicates a choice

There are many alternatives for when we are overcome with lethargy. We could follow Satya Nani’s advice and try to make a little progress each day.

alternative adjective

There are several alternative courses of action for when we lack motivation.  There is no shortage of advice online. 

People who want to escape the demands of modern life are often attracted to alternative lifestyles.

 

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e) among, between

among – preposition which links more than two 

https://unsplash.com/photos/3jRGSA2IH0c

Is your favourite book among these?

I love wandering among the bookshelves in libraries.

Reading takes me to another world where I’m always among friends.

♦between – preposition which links two only

Can you see Errol the Peril? It’s between two blue books.

Between you and me, I don’t think children read enough books nowadays.

Note: Among and between must be followed by a plural noun or singular nouns which can be replaced by a plural pronoun

Reading takes me to another world where I’m always among friends. (among them)

Can you see Errol the Peril? It’s between two blue books. (between them)

Between you and me, I don’t think children read enough books nowadays. (between us)

Incorrect: I love wandering among each bookshelf in libraries. ‘Each bookshelf’ is a single unit so I cannot wander among one thing.

Incorrect: There is a famous quote between each chapter. Again, ‘each chapter’ is a single unit, so a quote cannot be between one thing. 

Correct: There is a famous quote between the chapters. (between 1 & 2,  2 & 3,  3 & 4 etc.)

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f) anticipate, expect 

anticipate – verb meaning ‘to be aware of something that has not yet happened, or believe will happen, and (perhaps) to take appropriate action’ 

I recently booked into a highly recommended health retreat. Happily, they anticipated my every need.

A good public speaker anticipates the mood and bias of the audience.

https://unsplash.com/photos/7ixEp6004ts

Guess what? We’re expecting twins!


expect – verb, to think or assume or predict
that something might or should happen

We expect everyone to arrive before the soccer match starts.

Your employer naturally expects you to start work on time.

“We should not expect something for nothingbut we all do and call it Hope” (Edgar W. Howe).

 


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g) approve, approve of

approve to give permission for, accept

At last, after six months, the council approved our plans to renovate our house.

Your application for a Blue Card has been approved.

 

♦ approve of – to view positively

Juliet knew that her family would never approve of Romeo.

It was much more difficult in Shakespeare’s time for people to get married without the approval of their parents. 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063518/videoplayer/vi2776891673?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Juliet knew that her family would never approve of Romeo.

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This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary. Bookmark the permalink.

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