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Last week, we went over 10 pairs of commonly confused words in the English language. Click here to read that blog post.
If you’ve read last week’s blog post, you know the drill! Here are 20 more commonly confused words in English.
To vs. Too To (with one “o”) is a preposition that expresses motion, conveys change, or describes a relationship between two things or people. Too (with two “o”’s) is an adverb meaning “more than is desired”, “also”, or “as well”.
- I refused to speak with him for days.
- Henry was too short to ride the rollercoaster, and his sister was, too.
Access vs. Excess Access is a noun meaning “a means of entry” or a verb meaning to “retrieve something (usually data)”. Excess can be a noun or a verb meaning “too much; extra”.
- She needed a password to access the files in the database.
- The excess money was donated to charity.
Allude vs. Elude Allude is a verb that means “to mention something in an indirect way”. Elude is a verb that means to “escape something in a skillful way” or “(of an idea) fail to be grasped”.
- He didn’t mention anyone by name, but he alluded to his former best friend.
- The toddler eluded his mother several times in a clever game of hide-and-seek.
Device vs. Devise Device is a noun that means “an object or piece of equipment”. Nowadays, this word often refers to technology. Devise is a verb that means “to plan” or “to invent”.
- I try not to use my electronic devices after 6 PM.
- The group of scientists devised a new type of medicine.
Hoard vs. Horde Hoard is either a noun meaning “a large stock of valuable items” or a verb meaning “to stockpile valuable items”. Horde is a derogatory noun meaning “a large crowd of people”.
- The mad scientist began to hoard glass tanks and beakers to keep his strange projects in.
- A horde of people surrounded the confused penguin.
Currant vs Current Currant is a noun that means “dried grape”. Current is usually either an adjective meaning “right now”, or a noun meaning “moving air/water”.
- The old woman loves to make currant buns.
- The swirling ocean currents mesmerized the child.
Eminent vs Imminent Eminent is an adjective meaning “famous and respected”. Imminent is an adjective meaning “about to happen”.
- The siblings’ great-uncle had been one of the most eminent mathematicians of their time,
- The baby birds were in imminent danger of being eaten!
Moral vs Morale Moral is an adjective or plural noun that is used when concerning right and wrong behavior. It is often used as a singular noun to signify a lesson learned from a story or experience. Morale is a noun meaning “the enthusiasm of a person or group”.
- The moral of the story was to always try your best.
- The teacher passed out candy to boost the students’ morale during the exam.
Personal vs. Personnel Personal is an adjective meaning “individual” or “private”. Personnel is a noun which means “people employed in an organization (such as the military)”.
- Don’t take my word for it; that’s just my personal opinion.
- The personnel operated on their boss’ orders.
Principle vs. Principal Principle is a noun meaning “a fundamental truth that is a foundation for something”. Principal can be an adjective that means “main/important” or a noun meaning “a person with the highest authority in an organization/school”.
- One of the main principles of mathematics is the order of operations.
- That day, Billy was summoned to the principal’s office.
I hope this series helped you learn a little more about the many small nuances of the English language. If you’re ever unsure about the difference between two words, don’t hesitate to pull out (or if you’re online, pull up) a dictionary. Remember, this going to all this trouble now can prevent a lot of trouble later – you don’t want to confuse your readers or listeners.
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