Most Confusing Words in English with Explanation & Usages

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Confusing words is a familiar term in English language and grammar because of the differences between similar types of words. There are hundreds confusing words in English you will face frequently. The words which are similar in spelling or pronunciation but different incase of meaning or usages based on several contexts are regards as confusing words in English language.


Here we would like to discuss on these top 15 most confusing sets of words such as accept vs except, advice vs advise, affect vs effect, any vs some, bought vs brought, data vs datum, excited vs exciting, good vs well, hard vs hardly, interested vs interesting, their vs there vs they’re, to vs too vs two, bad vs badly, (much/many) vs (little/few), and than vs then.

We will discuss the core reason of differences between two or three similar words along with their part of speeches, meanings, usages, and examples. Without learning the differences among these words, you are going to get confused in case of using them properly while reading, writing, or speaking in English language.

Confusing Words in English

So, lets learn these words one by one and how they are used in English languages with different meanings on different contexts.

1. Accept vs Except

In case of these two words ‘accept’ and ‘except’ the differences are both in spelling and pronunciation. Most of the learners make mistakes in case of pronunciation here.

Accept is a verb and it to agree to take something or  to say ‘yes’ to an offer or invitationExcept may be regarded as a preposition or a
conjunction and it means  not including; but not or without
I always accept good advice.
The girl accepts his proposal.
I teach every day except Sunday(s).
Everybody will go with us except you.

2. Advice vs Advise

Here the difference between two words ‘advice’ and ‘advise’ is only the spelling. In the word ‘advice’ the alphabet ‘c’ is used but in the word ‘advise’ the alphabet ‘s’ is used instead of the alphabet ‘c’. 

Advice is a noun and it means an opinion which someone offers you about what you should do or how you should act in a particular situationAdvise is a verb and it means to give someone advice
I need someone to give me some advice.
What is the problem in his advice?
advise everybody to be nice to their teacher. He advises me to stay here till tomorrow.

3. Affect vs Effect

Here, between these two words ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ the difference is in pronunciation and also in spelling. One starts with the alphabet ‘a’ and another one is with ‘e’. they are also different parts of speeches. 

Affect is a verb and it means to have an influence on someone or something/to cause them to changeEffect is a noun word and it means the result of a particular influence
Smoking affects our health very much.
Your thought affects this project.
His smile had a strange effect on me.
The effect of the politics is not good.

4. Any vs Some

Remember, ‘any’ is generally used in negative and interrogative sentences in English. But ‘some’ is normally used in affirmative sentences in English.

Any is regarded as a determiner and an adjective. It expresses some, or even the smallest amount or number of something.Some is also a determiner and functions as an adjective that means an amount or number of something which is not stated or not known; a part of something/ a large amount or number of something.
Unfortunately they didn’t have any ticket.
Do you see any bird there?
I asked the man for some boxes there.
He collected some books for my exam.

5. Bought vs Brought

These two words have the difference in case of spelling that make the learners confused often. 

Bought Brought
Bought is the past simple and past participle of ‘buy’ that means to get something by paying money for it.Brought is the past simple and past participle of the word ‘bring’ that means to take or carry someone or something to a place or a person, or in the direction of the person speaking.
bought a newspaper at the newsagents.
Have you bought the last copy of it?
She brought her homework last week.
He brought a nice gift for me.

6. Data vs Datum

Data is a noun word and means information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and processed by a computer’Datum is the singular form of the word ‘data’ and expresses the similar meaning.
The data are correct.
How much data have you collected?
Your datum is not important.
The collected datum has lost now.

7. Excited vs Exciting

The word ‘excited’ refers to a person who becomes excited but the word ‘exciting’ refers to a feeling or an object that makes a person excited. Both are adjectives but one is for person and another one is for object. You have to use these words according to the form of subject. 

Excited is an adjective word and means the feeling very happy and enthusiasticExciting is also an adjective word that means making you feel excited
She was so excited that she couldn’t sleep.
I am very much excited after seeing the place.
The football match was so exciting for all.
This game could be more exciting but not.

8. Good vs Well

Notice carefully the differences of usages of these two words ‘good’ and ‘well’ because the word ‘good’ indicates the characteristics of noun, pronoun or the subject of the sentence where as the word ‘well’ indicates the type of action of the verb in a sentence. 

Good means very satisfactory, enjoyable, pleasant or interesting and it is an adjective word.Well means to act in a good way, to a high or satisfactory standard and it is an adverb word.
My bird is very good.
She didn’t speak very good English.
He usually behaves very well.
She didn’t speak English very well.

9. Hard vs Hardly

Many learners think that the word ‘hardly’ is the adverbial form of the word ‘hard’. But surprisingly, there is no similarity between these two words based on meaning. Moreover, the word ‘hardly’ is used to express the negative expression in a sentence.

Hard means firm and stiff; not easy to bend, cut or break/ difficult to understand, do, experience or deal with. It is an adjective word.Hardly means certainly not which is regarded as an adverb in a sentence.
She is a hard worker.
It was a hard test.
The teacher spoke so fast I could hardly
hear her.
You can hardly expect me to do the test
for you!

10. Interested vs Interesting

Generally, the word ‘interested’ is used to show interest of a person for something or someone but the word ‘interesting’ indicates the object that makes a person interested of something. In grammatical classifications, both of them belong to similar category.

Interested means wanting to give your attention to something and discover more about it. This is regarded as past participle/ adjective.Interesting Someone or something that is interesting keeps your attention because they are unusual, exciting, or have a lot of ideas. It is regarded as present participle/ adjective
I was very interested in the lesson.
The students are interested in this study tour.
It was an interesting lesson.
Your latest story is interesting.

11. Their vs There vs They’re

Always remember, the word ‘their’ is the possessive form of the word ‘they’. The word ‘there’ can be placed as a subject or object in a sentence. When it is used as subject, it is regarded as an ‘introductory there’ because it helps to start a sentence. 

But when the word is used as object, it indicates a place. Moreover, the word ‘there’ is used as introductory there it comes before the verbs ‘be’ , ‘seem’ and ‘appear’. 

Now notice the part ‘they’re’. it is simple and a combined short form of the pronoun ‘they’ and the auxiliary verb ‘are’. 

Their ThereThey’re
Their means of or belonging to them. It is considered as a pronoun.There means (to, at
or in) that place/ used to introduce the subject of a sentence. It is an
adverb word.
There is the short form of the
full part ‘they are’ that is (pronoun + verb) which means some
people are…
They got their books.
I took their advice in this case.
My house is over there.
There is a school in this city.
They’re making dinner.
They’re playing cricket now.

12. To vs Too vs Two

Isn’t this interesting? The word ‘to’, ‘too’, and ‘two’. Surprisingly, the pronunciation of the words ‘to’ and ‘too’ is the same so this makes a learners confused. So, notice the spelling of these words.

To is used before a verb to show that it is in the infinitive or used after many verbs of agreeing, needing and wanting. It is simply a preposition.Too means more than is needed or wanted; more than is suitable or enough. It is used as an adverb.Two means the number 2. It is a determiner or an adjective that indicates the number of
somebody or something.
I came in this city to meet you.
They went to the lake to swim.
I was too tired to continue.
I was hungry, too.
There are two books for him.
Two students scored below passing on the exam.

13. Bad vs Badly

The word ‘bad’ and ‘badly’ has no similarity in meaning. Both of them have different meanings. Don’t think that the word ‘badly’ is the adverb form of the word ‘bad’.

Bad Badly
Bad means unpleasant; causing difficulties or harm low quality; not acceptable. It is an adjective.Badly means very much and it is used as an adverb.
Your plan is bad for us.
This food may be bad for the child.
He badly needs the money today.
I badly expect his help now.

14. (Much/Many) vs (Little/Few)

Here the major differences among these words are based on the countable and uncountable nouns. The word ‘many’ and ‘few’ are regarded as countable nouns but the words ‘much’ and ‘little’ are regarded as uncountable nouns. Besides, the words ‘few’ and ‘little’ are considered as negative words in English. 

Many Few
Many used mainly in negative sentences and questions to mean ‘a large number of’. But Much indicates a large amount or to a large degree. Both of them are adjectives.Few used mainly in negative sentences to mean some, or a small number of something. And Little means small in size or amount. Both of them are adjectives.
Many Americans travel to India.
I collected many news for my project.
They have so much money in the bank.
There is few teacher in town.
He had few reasons for his opinion.
He had little food in the house.

15. Than vs Then

As I have observed from my teaching experiences that most of the students make a mistake in using the correct spelling of the words ‘than’ and ‘then’ according to the meaning. So, use the right form on right place considering the meaning carefully.

Than may be a preposition or conjunction. When it is used with ‘more’ or ‘less’ to compare numbers or amounts is regarded as a preposition but when it is used to join two parts of a comparison is known as a conjunction.Then means (at) that time (in the past or in the future) or next or after that. It can be used as an adverb.
He is richer than I.
I would rather dance than eat.
He was younger then.
First we must study; then we can play.

This lesson is one of the most important topics of our Vocabulary Lessons on this site. I hope, now you can easily ensure the correct usages of these words after reading this lesson. Because, I have discussed different meanings and examples of all the words along with the core reason of the difference. Let us know in comment if you have any suggestion on these confusing words in English. We hope to come back soon with next lesson.