Words Causing Confusion
English has plenty of confusing words. Correct use of some of the most common among them are given below.
Compliment (noun) – expression of approval, admiration etc.
Complement (noun) – that which makes something complete
- My compliments to your husband.
- The party must consist of fifty people. Here are forty. We need ten more to reach our complement.
Medal (noun) – flat piece of metal given as an award or made to commemorate an event
Meddle (verb) – interfere with other’s things
- He won the gold medal.
- Do not meddle with other people’s affairs.
Affect (verb) – have an effect on
Effect (noun) – result
Effect (verb) – bring about, cause to happen
- The climate affected his health.
- He was deeply affected by the sad news.
- Mongooses are not so much affected by cobra-bites as men are.
- The effect of cobra-bite on a man is often deadly.
- The new principal effected many changes in the college.
Prophesy (verb) – say what will happen in the future
Prophecy (noun) – power of telling what will happen in the future
- I prophesy that it will rain tomorrow.
- Did you hear my prophecy that it would rain tomorrow?
Stationary (adjective) – not moving or changing
Stationery (noun) – writing-materials
- When an object isn’t moving, it is stationary.
- Articles like writing paper, pencils and pens are called stationery.
Dependant (noun) – somebody who depends upon another for a home, food etc.
Dependent (adjective) – depending
- I have many dependants.
- Kids are usually dependent on their parents till they can earn enough to support themselves.
Licence (noun) – permission to do something
License (verb) – give permission to
- You must get a driving licence.
- This shop is licensed to sell tobacco.
Disease (noun) – illness of body, mind
Decease (noun) – death
- Cholera is a terrible disease.
- The deceased means the dead people.
Deference (noun) – respect
- There is no difference between this and that.
- He is very polite to his parents and treats them with great deference.
Assent (noun) – give one’s agreement to
Ascent (noun) – way up
- He gave his assent to the proposal.
- The temple is at the top of the hill and the ascent is very steep.
Illicit (adjective) – unlawful
Elicit (verb) – get an answer from somebody
- Liquor made without a licence is illicit.
- I asked him many questions to elicit what had really happened.
Eminent (adjective) – distinguished
Imminent (adjective) – likely to come or happen soon
- People whose names are familiar to everyone are not necessarily eminent.
- He is an eminent scholar.
- The sky is heavily clouded, so rain seems imminent.
Illusion (noun) – false idea or belief
Allusion (noun) – hint
- It is an illusion to think that the sun moves across the sky.
- He did not make a single allusion to the examination results in his speech.
- W B Yeats makes several allusions to Indian mythology in his poems.
President (noun) – head of a state or organization
Precedent (noun) – taken as an example of or as a rule for what comes later
- He is the President of the United States.
- I will let you do this now, but don’t take it as a precedent. I will not let you do this again.
Adverse (adjective) – hostile
Averse (adjective) – harbouring dislike to
- The officer was not promoted because there was an adverse report against him.
- He is not averse to violent methods.
- Which cat is averse to fish?
Accelerate (verb) – increase the speed
Expedite (verb) – assist and hasten the progress of
- He suddenly accelerated the car; it shot forward and soon disappeared from view.
- All steps have been taken to expedite the formation of the new state.
Application (noun) – the process of applying, enforcement
Implication (noun) – meaning implied but not explicitly stated
- The application of the tax measures will cause hardship to the middle class.
- The implications of his statement are far-reaching.
Ancient (adjective) – very old
Antique (adjective) – old-fashioned
- Some people harp on the ancient glory of Indian culture.
- In the museum we have some remarkable relics of antique sculpture.
Apprehend (verb) – grasp, get a hold on the meaning of a thing
Comprehend (verb) – understand fully
- I can apprehend the bare principles of the Theory of Relativity but I cannot comprehend the full implications of that theory.
Amiable (adjective) – lovable
Amicable (adjective) – friendly
- His amiable qualities endear him to everybody.
- We have arrived at an amicable settlement of the dispute.
Adapt (verb) – make something suitable to or for a purpose
- Success often depends on your ability to adapt yourself to changing circumstances.
- The merchant who had no children of his own adopted John as his heir.
Avert (verb) – turn away, ward off
Invert (verb) – turn upside down
- We must make every effort to avert a Third World War.
- He inverted the bottle to show that there was not a drop left.
- I advised him to study law.
- His advice was helpful.
Affection (noun) – love
Affectation (noun) – pretence
- He has great affection for his mother.
- I hate affectation in speech and manner.
Canvass (verb) – request votes
- This tent is made of canvas.
- The candidates have been vigorously canvassing the support of the voters.
Childlike (adjective) – like a child
Childish (adjective) – immature
- He has a childlike simplicity about him.
- His conduct is extremely immature.
Congenial (adjective) – suitable, agreeable
Congenital (adjective) – from birth
- In congenial surroundings a child’s mind develops very well.
- His blindness is congenital.
Capture (verb) – seize
Captivate (verb) – fascinate
- He was captured by his enemies.
- He was captivated by her beauty.
Compliment (noun) – expression of regard
Complement (adjective) – that which completes
- Please, convey my compliments to your brother.
- The ship has its full complement of sailors.
Confident (adjective) – sure
Confidential (adjective) – trusted, secret
- I am confident of success this time.
- I shall tell you something, but keep it confidential.
Comprehensive (adjective) – exhaustive
Comprehensible (adjective) – understandable
- This book gives a comprehensive account of the whole of English grammar.
- You must present your ideas in a lucid and comprehensible manner.
Confirm (verb) – ratify
Conform (adjective) – comply with
- The decisions of the board were later confirmed by the minister.
- This practice does not conform to the rules laid down by the committee.
Eligible (adjective) – qualified
legible (adjective) –readable
- You are not eligible for the post.
- Write legibly.
Facilitate (verb) – make easy
Felicitate (verb) – congratulate
- Audio-visual aids will facilitate the teaching of science subjects.
- We held a meeting to felicitate the winners.
Graceful (adjective) – full of grace
Gracious (adjective) – full of kindness
- She looked graceful.
- The princess was very gracious and readily agreed to preside over the women’s conference.
Industrial (adjective) – pertaining to industry
Industrious (adjective) – hard-working
- India’s industrial development in recent years has been remarkable.
Industrious students should be encouraged and rewarded.
Ingenuous (adjective) – frank, open
Ingenious (adjective) – clever
- His ingenuous nature has made him popular.
- He has made an ingenious device that can make sugar out of coal.