Given below are a list of some words that speakers and writers of English often confuse. They are called false cognates because they sound or appear so similar to one another that they create confusion. Therefore, even an excellent writer must master these confusing words. The editors at www.manuscriptedit.com have adequate experience in identifying and understanding these words.
allot A lot is combination of two words meaning much: A lot of food was left over from the party.
Allot is a verb meaning distribute proportionately, to portion out: Allot a lot more time to practice!
awhile A while is two words meaning a short period of time: I will meet you in a while. These two words are never spelled together.
and A is an indefinite article to be used before nouns beginning with a consonant: a photograph, a tree, a horse.
An is to be used before nouns beginning with a vowel (or vowel sound): an apple, an hour, an elephant.
And is a conjunction used between nouns in a list: A boy and a girl were in the car.
exceed Accede means to agree or allow: Jim finally acceded to join my friends company.
Exceed means to go beyond, to surpass: The results exceeded our expectation.
except Accept means to take willingly: Mrs. Compson accepted the responsibility without any fuss .
Except is a preposition meaning excluding: Everyone attended the party except Maria.
adopt Adapt means to adjust: John quickly adapted living away from home. Adept means skilled: Karen is adept at learning languages.
Adopt means to accept as your own: Christina adopted a puppy from the animal shelter.
averse Adverse means unfavorable, hostile: The riders had to overcome adverse weather conditions.
Averse means unwilling or repelled: She was averse to the idea of going for a swim.
advise Advice is a noun meaning an opinion given with the intention of helping: My mother still advices me even though I am 45 years old.
Advise is a verb meaning to give counsel or advice: The doctor advised the patient to take two tablets a day.
effect Affect is most often used as a verb meaning to influence: The child was affected by his parents behaviour at home.
The verb effect means to cause: My presence in the meeting effected Rachel to make a quick decision.
aide Aid is help or assistance given: Every Christmas the community gives aid to less fortunate people.
An aide is a person who helps: Michael worked as an aide to his Professor for 5 years.
heirs Airs refers to snobbish and artificial behavior: Sofia put on airs at the dinner party just because she had a few diamonds.
Heirs are people who, because they are family, will inherit the ancestral property.
alright All right is a phrase meaning everything is right: Is all right here?
Alright is a single word meaning OK: All are alright here.
altogether All together is applied to people or things that are being treated as a whole: We always had fun when we were all together.
Altogether is an adverb that means completely or totally: It is an altogether new approach to solve this problem.
always All ways means by every means or method: Gina tried all ways to stop her husband from drinking.
Always means forever: God is always there to help.
elude Allude means to suggest indirectly: Linda can't speak to her husband without alluding to his affair with Kelly.
Elude means to dodge or escape: Success always seemed to elude him.
illusion An allusion is a subtle reference or hint: Mira made an allusion to the most recent novel she read in our conversation yesterday.
An illusion is a deception, mirage, or a wild idea: Mark said he has no illusions about what he want his son to be.
most Almost means nearly all: The bus is almost empty now.
Most is superlative of more, meaning the greatest or to the highest degree: Kiran shared the most valuable secret of her life.
allowed Aloud means speaking so that someone else can hear you: The teacher asked the child to read the paragraph aloud.
Allowed means having permission: Kevin’s father allowed him to take his car in the weekend.
all ready Already is an adverb that indicates an action is completed by a certain time: I have already finished the homework.
All ready means everything is completely prepared: The players were all ready to take on the field.
alternatively Alternately means taking turns: We paddled alternately so neither of us would get too tired.
Alternatively means as an option: If you are afraid of flying, alternatively, you can chose to travel by train.
alter An altar is a table used in communion and other services in a church: The priest conducted the ceremony at the altar.
To alter means to change: Don't alter a thing; leave everything as it is.
ambivalent Ambiguous describes a phrase or act with more than one meaning, or one that is unclear: The conclusions drawn are ambiguous; it needs further investigation.
Ambivalent means uncertainty and having conflicting attitudes and feelings: He was ambivalent as to which candidate to vote for.
amicable Amiable refers to a person who is friendly, good-natured, and pleasant: Deborah is very amiable and liked by all neighbours.
Amicable means friendly and peaceable, and is used to describe agreements or relationships between groups or people: After years of disagreement, the two countries came to an amicable agreement.
between Among is used for three or more: Zinzi had to choose among three universities she might attend.
Between is used for two things: I couldn't decide between blue and green.
immoral Amoral means having no principles at all, good or bad: Mr. Brown is totally amoral; he is either helping others or helping himself at their expense. Immoral means bad, lacking good principles: In many countries, women not covering body parts in public is considered immoral.
number Amount is used with uncountable and abstract nouns: a large amount of money, amount of work, amount of happiness or amount of dirt.
Number is used with countable and concrete plural expressions: a number of people, a number of attempts, a number of novels, a number of trials.
bemused Amused is when something is entertaining: The children were amused by watching the kittens play.
Bemused means bewildered or lost in thought: George was bemused by the unexpected ending to the movie.
annul Annual means yearly: We must pay an annual tax.
Annul means to make void or invalid: They want to annul the marriage.
anyone Any one means any one person: Any one of you may go, but not all of you. Anyone means anybody, any person at all: Anyone can swim across the river.
nowheres Anyway, anywhere, and nowhere are the correct forms.
a part Apart is an adverb meaning in pieces: My plan for my vacation fell apart. A part is a noun meaning one section of: A part of my heart left when he did.
apprise Appraise is to assess or estimate the worth of: The broker appraised me of the property.
Apprise is to inform or notify: We apprised the boss about our business trip.
like As may be used as a conjunction that introduce dependent clauses: George talks as his father does. Informally, it may also be used as a preposition in comparative constructions like: Jean-Claude is as forgetful as me (or as I am). Like is a preposition is followed by a noun or pronoun: George looks like his mother. It may also be used as an adjective meaning similar: George and I have like minds.
assent Ascent is an upward movement: Kim’s ascent to the CEO of the company was because of his hard work.
Assent means to agree to: Albert’s boss assented to the new proposal.
aesthetic An ascetic is a person who renounces all material comforts, often for religious devotion: the young man led his ascetic lifestyle despite his parents' plans for him. It can also be used as an adjective: Ethan Asia led an ascetic lifestyle.
Aesthetic refers to the philosophy of beauty or the pleasing qualities of something: In addition to low cost, the building looks great aesthetically as well.
describe Ascribe means to attribute to: He ascribed his success to his wife.
Describe means to show what something is by drawing a picture with words: Describe in detail what the man looked like.
dispersion Aspersion is slander, a damaging remark: The campaign was filled with one aspersion after another.
Dispersion is the act of scattering: The dispersion of powder it the liquid was made by ultrasonication.
assistants Assistance is help or aid: the nurses gave assistance to the patients. Assistants are more than one assistant, a person who gives help: the laboratory assistants were ready to help the students with their experimental work.
insure Assure means to guarantee: The sales person assured her that the product was a quality item.
Ensure means to make sure by double checking: The guard ensured the doors to the school were locked at night.
Insure means to provide insurance: It is wise to insure your house against flood, fire, or theft.
augur An auger is a tool used for digging holes: If you want to ice fish, you need to first drill a hole in the ice with an auger. Augur means to predict, forecast: Leroy's inheritance augured happiness for him in the future.