Words We Commonly Misuse and Confuse

Words We Commonly Misuse and Confuse

We type…. a lot.  Due to that, even the mostadvanced ofwriters mix up words that look similar to each other.  Or perhaps some of us simply confuse the meanings of two similar words.  It never hurts to be reminded, so here is a list words we commonly mix up along with their meanings:

·         Affect & Effect
Affect- (v) to produce a change in something.
The weather change affected my asthma.

Effect-(n) something that is caused; (v) to cause something to happen.
Your sudden asthma attack is an effect of the weather change.
Weather changes are known to effectallergies.
Affect is always used as a verb.  Effect is most commonly used as noun are rarely as a verb.

·         Accept & Except
Accept-(v) to consent to receive or do something.
      The prestigious universityaccepted into its English program.

Except-(v) to exclude; (prep.) not included.
      Everyone except your best friend went to the movie.

·         Complement & Compliment
Complement- (v) to add to so as to enhance or improve; (n) a thing that completes or
brings something to perfection.
      The pillows complement the room.
      You bought the pillows as a complement to the room.

Compliment-(v) to praise or express approval; (n) an admiring remark.
      You compliment your date’s appearance.
      You give your date a compliment.

·         Conscience & Conscious
Conscience-(n) an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one's behavior.
      Your conscience tells you not to steal.

Conscious-(v) to be aware of and responding to one's surroundings; (v) to have knowledge of something.
      You are conscious that stealing is wrong.

·         Criteria & Criterion
Criteria-(n) a set of standards by which something may be judged or decided.
      The criteria to be accepted are a high GPA and SAT score, and extracurricular activities.

Criterion- (n) a single standard by which something may be judged or decided.
      You did not meet the GPA criterion.

Multiple criterions make up something’s criteria.

·         Discreet & Discrete
Discreet- (v) to be careful or sneaky so as to not to attract attention.
      He was discreet when he sneaked out of his house.

Discrete- (adj.) individually separate and distinct.
      There are several discrete sections to the office.

·         E.g. & I.e.
E.g.- is an abbreviation for the Latin term, “exempli gratia,” which means, “for example.”
      You should take safety precautions when skiing, e.g. wear a helmet.

I.e.- is an abbreviation for the Latin term, “id est,” which means, “that is,” or “that is to say.”
      I am going to eat my favorite food, i.e. spaghetti.

·         Elicit & Illicit
Elicit- (v) Evoke or draw out a reply or reaction.
      She poked him to elicithis attention.

Illicit- (adj.) Forbidden by law, rules, or custom.
      His use of illicit drugs resulted in his arrest.

·         Loose & Lose
Loose- (v) to unfasten or release.
      If yourshoes are too loose, then you will trip.

Lose- (v) to be deprived of, or cease to have or retain.
      If your best player is injured, then you will lose the game.

·         Principal & Principle
Principal- (n) the person with the highest authority or most important position in an organization.
      When I was in grade school, I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office.

Principle-A truth, rule, or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
      America operates under the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

·         Who’s & Whose
Who’s- the contraction for “who is” or “who has.”
      Who’s coming to the game?
      Who’s taken a cookie?

Whose- (adj.) belonging to or associated with a person.
      Whose hat is on the table?

Shannon Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us her thoughts on common English errors. 
Shannon also writes about nursing home abuse for www.nursinghomeabuse.net.


  1. Thanks, this helps so much! I always get confused some words, like affect and effect...I think this clarifys those words for everyone...especially those who luv 2 write! :)


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