There are many commonly misused words in English. Some of these words may have similar spellings, and some may have similar pronunciations. These words, however, have different meanings. In this posting I talk about 15 commonly misused English words. I include definitions and example sentences. The download at the end will give you additional practice understanding these commonly misused words.
Many native speakers of English have trouble with the commonly misused words you will see below. Now, however, you will know better!
- all right–alright
all right–(adj)–good enough, OK; safe, recovered
alright–This word is not really a word and it is not standard English. Many native speakers of English use it, but it is not correct.
alternately–(adv)–in turn, one after the other
alternatively–(adv)–This word shows that there is a choice about how you do something. One one hand…on the other hand.
capital–(n)–The city or town where the government business takes place; money
capitol–(n)–The building located in the capital city where the government officials work.
cite–(v)–to quote an authority in research; to be brought before a court of law
site–(n)–a location; a web page on the internet
complement–(n)–something that completes something else such as a sentence or an outfit
He is a doctor. He is the subject; is is the verb, and doctor completes the sentence as the complement.
compliment–(n)–when someone says something nice to you or praises you
disinterested–(adj)–not biased, impartial
uninterested–(adj)–not interested in something, not care about something
elicit–(v)–to draw out or encourage a response form someone.
emigrant–(n)–someone who leaves his home country to move to another country.
immigrant–(n)–a person who arrives in a new country and intends to live there.
farther–(adj)–more distant, more far
further–(adj)–to a greater degree
flammable-inflammable–(adj) These words mean the same thing, able to catch on fire.
nonflammable–(adj)–not able to catch on fire
foreword–(n)–the introduction to a book
forward–(adv)–toward the front
lay–(v)–to put something down
laid–(v)–past tense of lay
lain–(v)–past participle of lay
lie–(v)–to become horizontal. Past tense is lay, pas participle is lain.
lose–(v)–to misplace something
loose–(adj)–not tight, not well fixed
passed–(v)–past tense of the verb to pass, go in front of someone; to succeed on a test
past–(n)–time gone by
principle–(n)–a rule or a standard.
principal–(adj)–the main or most important person or thing
principal–(n)–the director of a K-12 school
Yo now know that English has many commonly misused words. Some have the same pronunciation. Others do not, but they are still similar enough to be confusing. Many native English speakers have problems with these words as well. The download will give you additional practice understanding and using these commonly misused words.
Idioms of the day
- to get on someone’s nerves –This means to anger or annoy someone. My office mate sits at his desk and whistles all day. It really gets on my nerves.
- not on your life –This means never, not ever for any reason. My friend offered me $500 to go skydiving with him. I answered, “Not on your life!”