Most commonly misunderstood words in the English dictionary
There are many words in the English language which sound similar or have a similar spelling but have very different meanings. Using the correct word is essential, especially in an important letter or email. A surprising number of people mistakenly use these commonly misused words, which can cause problems and confuse your written communications.
Affect and Effect
Affect and effect are commonly misused words which sound similar and also have similar meanings. Affect when used as a verb means to influence or change, while effect when used as a noun means the result or consequence.
Accept and except
The word except means aside from or other than, while the word accept meant to agree to or receive something.
Alternative and Alternate
Alternate when used as a verb means to occur in turns, while as a noun alternate means substitute. Alternative is a choice between two things.
Amoral and Immoral
The word amoral describes a state of being neither immoral or moral while the word immoral is behaviour or actions that are considered unacceptable.
Compliment and Complement
A compliment is an expression of admiration or appreciation while the word complement means to enhance or improve something.
Discrete and Discreet
The word discrete means separate or distinct while the word discreet means to be careful or to exercise self restraint so as not to attract undue attention.
Further and Farther
The word further means the advancement in time, degree or quantity while the word farther refers to distance.
Reticent and reluctant
The word reticent means to be reserved or restrained while the word reluctant means someone is unwilling to do something.
Imply and Infer
The word imply means to suggest something while to infer is to conclude by reasoning or deduction.