Learn to Write English Clearly and Correctly

Set 5 - Lesson 25 

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Lesson 25, Words that are often confused:

There are many pairs of words in English that are frequently confused with each other because they are similar in appearance or in meaning.  Your incorrect use of these words makes a glaring statement about you to well-educated people - that if you are sloppy or inaccurate in using your language, how dependable will you be in other areas?  Here is your chance to fix some of those errors.

When speaking, it is important to pronounce these words accurately to keep them clear in your mind.  Accept begins with the A sound in HAT or CAT.  Except begins with the short E sound in PET or MET.

1. Will you accept our apology for the mistake on your bill?

2. Jenny accepted the First Place ribbon at the state fair.

3. Everybody turned in their homework except Fred and Violet.

4. The hiring committee decided to except John Harris from future consideration.  (to omit him from consideration)

These words are commonly pronounced nearly the same, but the dictionary tells us that AFFECT should begin with the same sound as ABOUT or the U in BUT.  EFFECT should begin with a short I sound as in SIT or BIT.  The more exact you are in your pronunciation of these words, the easier it will be to keep them separate in your mind.

1. This bad weather will affect our business. 

2. Martin's headache affected his ability to concentrate on his job.

3. The bad weather had a negative effect on our business.

4. The football player effected a difficult pass to the forward. (successfully achieved a pass)

1. The sun is farther from the earth than the moon is.

2. The wounded deer ran much farther than we thought it would.

3. The judge asked for further examples to support the defendant's case.

4. Doctors are hoping for further progress in the fight against cancer.

1. Cal Ripkin is a good baseball player.

2. I hope this is a good lesson.

3. Cal Ripkin plays baseball well.

4. Tom did very well on the history test.

5. Aunt Sarah is not feeling well today.

Confusion between these two words may exist because there is a noun LEAVE which means "permission."  "The teacher gave the student leave to go to the restroom."

1.  Please let me go.  (permit me to go)

2. He gave me leave to go.  (He gave me permission)

3. The foreman let the new worker use the drill press.  (permitted)

4. The class will leave school early tomorrow.  (go away from)

1. The fireman showed much courage when he entered the burning building to look for more people.

2. There was too much dirt in the machinery for it to run properly.

3. I have many cousins.

4. There are many ways to earn money in the United States.

1. Most people prefer pizza topped with real cheese rather that artificial, fat-free cheese.

2. A good father can be a real hero to his children.

3. Joanna performed really well in the gymnastics event.  (How well did she perform? Really well. Adverbs answer the question "How was something done?")

4. The young boy in the dentist's office was really afraid.  (How afraid was the boy?  Really afraid.)

A. ACT AS: Take or play the part of.  "Jim will act as captain until George returns." A. ACT LIKE:  to imitate, to behave the same as.  "My brother was acting like a jerk at the party."
B. ADVERSE: an adjective meaning "harmful"  "Many people have an adverse reaction to penicillin." B. AVERSE: an adjective meaning "unwilling"  "My mother is averse to riding a roller coaster."
C. ADVICE: A noun.  An opinion meant to guide someone's action or conduct. "Stock brokers often give bad advice." C. ADVISE: Verb. To recommend a course of action.  "Fred asked his lawyer to advise him before going to court."
D. ALMOST: Adverb. Nearly, all but.  "The highway crew was almost finished with the road repairs." D. MOST: Adjective or noun. Nearly all of something.  "Most dogs have hair."  "Most of us have computers."
E. CAN: shows or refers to ability to do something.  "The juggler can twirl six plates at the same time." E. MAY: Shows permission.  "May I take you to the party?"

There are enough examples  of confusing word pairs to make this lesson 10 pages long.  Instead, we will show you many more pairs and use them in sentences.   Use a good English dictionary to learn the definitions of the words.  If you have any questions about any of the words, or if you cannot find a good dictionary, e-mail us for help or advice at  learning@say-it-in-english.com . 

1. allusion_____ illusion 2. beat _______ win 3. complement _______ compliment
4. already _____ all ready 5. beside _____ besides 6. council _____ counsel
7. altogether _____ all together 8. bring _____ take 9. custom _____ habit
10. angry about _____ angry with 11. compare with _____ compare to 12. deduce _____ deduct
13. emigrant _____  immigrant 14. guess _____ suppose 15. hanged _____ hung
16. evidence _____ proof 17. healthy _____ healthful 18. in _____ into
19. few _____ less 20. infer _____ imply 21. kind of _____ rather
22. formerly _____ formally 23. of _____ have 24. oral _____ verbal
25. got _____ have 26. persecute _____ prosecute 27. principle _____ principal
28. steal _____ rob 29. stay _____ stand 30. suspect _____ expect
31. teach _____ learn 32. than _____ then 33. them _____ those
34. unless _____ without 35. until _____ to 36. very _____ quite

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1a.  The history professor made several allusions to the royal families of Europe during his lecture. 1b. Many magic tricks are merely optical illusions.
2a. The crowd in the bleachers wanted their team to beat the opponent. 2b. The crowd in the bleachers wanted their team to win the baseball game.
3a. The bright throw pillows were a good complement to the neutral colors of the furniture. 3b. George made it a point to compliment the waiter for the excellent service.
4a. Our friends had already begun eating by the time we arrived at the restaurant. 4b. By the time Tom and Mary arrived at the restaurant, we were all ready to begin eating.
5a. Sally sat beside her parents to watch the school play. 5b. Besides Sally and her parents, her brother and her aunt also watched the play.
6a. The city council met to discuss the growing crime problem they faced. 6b. The attorney counseled his client on proper courtroom behavior.
7a. The first-grade class was altogether too noisy to stay in the museum. 7b. The tour guide coaxed the tourists, "Come on, people. Let's stay all together."
8a. Jane was asked to bring a salad to the family picnic. 8b. I decided to take chips and pretzels to the picnic.
9a. It is a religious custom for many people to wash before praying or eating. 9b. Joey was in the habit of twirling his hair while he watched television.
10a. Mrs. Johnson was very angry about the damage caused by the careless yardman. 10b. Mrs. Johnson was angry with the yardman because he ran over her prize flowers.
11a. This local wine can be compared with the best French wines. 11b. Compared to Broadway productions, most high school plays are a poor imitation.
12a. After examining all the evidence, the detective was able to deduce who the killer was. 12b. The mechanic deducted the cost of the damaged mirror from his final bill. 
13a. Some of my ancestors emigrated from southern Germany in the late 1700's. 13b. The first family immigrated to the United States before the country was born.
14a. Students will often guess at test answers if they have not studied the material. 14b. I suppose I will have to wash the windows myself, since nobody else is here.
15a. A convicted pirate was usually hanged for his crimes. 15b. Mrs. Smith hung the painting of her famous ancestor on the living room wall. 
16a. A person's fingerprints found in the area where a crime was committed would be called evidence. 16b. A video of a person entering a locked store and forcing open the cash register would be called proof of his guilt.
17a. The elderly woman appeared to be quite healthy as she walked briskly into the room. 17b. The woman credited her healthful, low-calorie diet for her youthful appearance.
18a. When I was in Wal-Mart yesterday, I met several old friends. 18b. The mouse escaped the cat by running into a small hole in the baseboard.
19a. Marvin had only drunk a few glasses of beer before he drove his car into the ditch. 19b. John had even less money than his friends when they went to the club.
20a. When Mark finally arrived with greasy hands and muddy shoes, we had to infer that he'd had car trouble. 20b. When George arrived at his girlfriend's house, she glanced at her watch with a stern expression, implying that he was late.
21a. The new dessert was kind of sweet, but with a tart after-taste. 21b. The teenager's behavior was rather rude as he waited in line for the show.
22a. Mr. Johnson, formerly the history teacher, was now head of the Social Studies department. 22b. We all had to dress formally for the dinner at the fancy restaurant.
23a. The leader of the group walked at the head of the column. 23b. He should have (should've) walked behind the group to keep people in line.
24a. The main part of a bar exam is in the form of an oral presentation. 24b. The verbal portion of the test consisted of questions on word usage and sentence structure.
25a. Betty got twenty invitations to Christmas parties this year. 25b. Janet has three pairs of new shoes that she has never worn.

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26a. The obese student was persecuted every day by insensitive fellow students. 26b. Many stores post signs saying that shoplifters will be prosecuted
27a. An excellent athletic program was the principle reason Jim chose that college. 27b. Mrs. Wilson was chosen to be acting principal until the next school board meeting.
28a. Somebody stole my high school jacket when I left it on the locker room bench. 28b. Mrs. Watson told the police that a man tried to rob her when she was using the ATM.
29a. Michael prefers to stay at motels that allow parking in front of each room's door. 29b. The nervous guest stood guard inside his room all night long.
30a. Mr. Jones began to suspect the neighbor's dog of stealing his newspapers. 30b. "I expect the storm to start any minute now," the farmer told his wife.
31a. Bill spent hours teaching his little brother how to catch a baseball. 31b. "I wonder if he will ever learn to catch a ball," Bill said to himself.
32a. I weigh twenty-five pounds more now than I did when I was thirty years old. 32b. John decided he would wash the car first, and then water the lawn.
33a. When the Boy Scouts arrived at my house, I gave them three bundles of old newspapers. 33b. I had been saving those old papers for the past year.
34a. Carol could not go to the party unless she cleaned her bedroom first. 34b. Without getting permission from her mother, Carol could not go to the party.
35a. Carol still had three hours to wait until the party began. 35b. We are going to the river to wait for the boat to arrive.
36a. Dad was very pleased to see his youngest son graduate from college. 36b. Dad was quite pleased to see his youngest son graduate from college.

Exercise A: Circle the correct word inside the parentheses in the following sentences.

1. Having long hair and a nose ring may (affect, effect) a young man's ability to get a good job.

2. The actor performed (good, well) in the new play.

3. How much (further, farther) is it to the state line?

4. (Leave, Let) me take the dog for a walk.

5. Mrs. Johnson walked (real, really) carefully on the slippery sidewalk.

6. Mary asked her boss, "(Can, May) I take my lunch break early today?"

7. Susan had to (accept, except) her punishment for fighting in school.

8. It is not healthy to put too (much, many) spices on your food.

9. Jimmy often tried to (act as, act like) a fool in class.

10. The new business received an (adverse, averse) response to their ad campaign.

Exercise B:  Match the following words with their definitions.  Put the letter of the definition on the line after the word it belongs to.

1. except_____ a. adjective. Something positive, decent, free from fault.   5. well_______ e. as preposition it means "all but".  As verb, "to omit, not include."
2. much______ b. verb.  to influence   6. farther_____ f. to go away, official permission to go
3. leave______ c. verb. to take, to receive, to willingly take possession of.   7. accept_____ g. refers to bulk or mass quantity of an uncountable substance.
4. affect______ d. more advanced in space or distance.   8. good______ h. as adverb, how proficiently something was done.

Examination:  Use the correct words from the list to fill in the blanks in the following sentences.  All of the words should be used, but each word should only be used one time.

can real accept affect farther
may really except effect further

1. All of the teachers ________________ Mr. Nelson received merit raises.

2. Mr. Nelson was _________________ angry because he didn't receive a raise.

3. He thought that he went ________________ than most of the other teachers in preparing his lessons.

4. " _________ I help it if my students could not learn?"  he thought.

5. He wondered if this would _________________ his promotion.

6. He walked several paces  _________________ down the hall before he got an idea.

7. He knew it would be a ________________ test of his ability as a teacher.

8. Mr. Nelson went to the office and asked, "_____________ I speak to the principal?"

9. The principal said,  "I am ready to __________________ your proposal for the new program."

10. He added, "This will have a serious ________________ on your career if it doesn't work."

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