Writers' Club

20 Words that are Commonly Confused & Misused

1. Advice & Advise

The word advice is a noun that means "guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future accent". 

The word advise, however, is a verb, which means to offer up / deliver the advice in the first place. 

2. Accept & Except

Accept means to take or to receive something, both literally (as in an object) and figuratively (e.g. acceptance of fate). 

Except, on the other hand, signifies exclusion. E.g. "I accept all of your terms, except the last one". 

3. Affect & Effect

Both of these words can be used as verbs and as nouns. 

As a verb, affect means to influence something or someone, whilst effect means to accomplish something. 

As a noun, affect refers to an emotional state (e.g. "The doctor observed the patient's affect"), whilst an effect occurs as a result of something.

An easy way to remember this one is to say that the affect is the action (as this is used more commonly as a verb), and the effect is the end result (and this noun is more common than its counterpart). 

4. Bare & Bear

The words bare and bear can also be used as verbs as well as nouns, but whilst bare means "to uncover", or to be naked, bear means to carry or to produce. It also describes the animal genus Ursus, of course!

5. Complement & Compliment

A complement is "that which completes or makes perfect; the completion, perfection, consummation". 

vs. a compliment, which is an admiring remark. 

6. Cue & Queue

A cue is either a signal for action (as in the theatre, where one actor's line prompts another), or a wooden stick used for playing snooker or pool. 

queue is something that the British are supposedly famous for; an orderly line, either of people or of vehicles, formed whilst waiting for something.  

7. Fewer & Less

The word fewer should be used when you are referring to separate items that can be counted. 

Less should be used when referring to a whole. 

8. Imply & Infer

To imply something is to suggest it without actually saying it out loud. 

To infer something, you must draw a conclusion from something somebody else has implied. 

As a rule, the speaker / writer implies, and the listener / reader infers. 

9. Loose & Lose

The word loose is a verb which means to set free, or a noun that denotes a free thing. 

The word lose is also a verb, but this time is means to misplace or to be deprived of something. 

10. Stationary & Stationery 

Stationary is an adjective used to describe something that is still, not moving. 

Stationery, however, is a noun that covers all the things that you use to write with.