Clearing Up Confusing Words



Many words in English cause confusion because they sound or look alike. Here are a few rules to help you with some common but tricky words.

Rule 1: The word accept means “to agree,” “to receive.”
The word except means “but,” “not including.”

Examples:
I accept your apology.
I’ll eat anything except cottage cheese.

Rule 2: The word allusion means “an indirect mention of something.”
The word illusion means “false perception.”

Examples:
In her novel, the author made an allusion to her own childhood.
OR The author alluded to her own childhood.
The magician created the illusion that the rabbit disappeared right before our eyes.

Rule 3: The word complement means “to complete” or “to enhance.”
The word compliment means “to praise.”

Examples:
Their algebra textbook won awards because her math skills complemented his writing skills beautifully.
I want to compliment you on your beautiful singing voice.

Click here to see many more Confusing Words and Homonyms clarified with examples.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. I cannot accept/except the fact that he doesn’t want to invest in real estate with me.
  2. Einstein was the first scientist to point out that the perception of time as linear is an allusion/illusion.
  3. My husband gave me such a nice complement/compliment when he said that my proofreading skills were as sharp as his editor’s.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

Correct answers are indicated in bold type and by an asterisk (*).

  1. I cannot *accept/except the fact that he doesn’t want to invest in real estate with me.
  2. Einstein was the first scientist to point out that the perception of time as linear is an allusion/*illusion.
  3. My husband gave me such a nice complement/*compliment when he said that my proofreading skills were as sharp as his editor’s.

Posted on Friday, September 11, 2009, at 9:52 am

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6 Comments on Clearing Up Confusing Words

6 responses to “Clearing Up Confusing Words”

  1. Kaiwar says:

    I find many people use the word – ” peoples”. Can we use the word ‘s’ with people,which is already Plural. Is there some difference between the two?

    • Jane says:

      The word people is often used synonymously with human beings or persons. The word peoples is defined as “a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group.” Examples:

      People can be really cruel sometimes.
      The native peoples of Mexico are known as Aztecs or Mayans.

  2. Bryon Wittstock, Cape Town, South Africa says:

    Why, in American usage, have the words take and taken been replaced by bring or brought? This would imply that medicine must be brought not taken. Have the words take and taken become offensive or too agressive in modern American Political Correctness? So too gotten. Since when is a word made into a past tense when, in fact, it has no tense?

  3. Barbara Linden says:

    I’m bugged about people saying “I’ll bring her some soup” instead of “I’ll take her some soup.” Please help clarify the difference.

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