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Confusing Words

Than and Then

Average: 4 (11 votes)

Confusing then and than is a mistake we frequently see online, even made by native speakers. Although their spelling and pronunciation may appear similar, they have very different meanings.

Than

Than can be either a conjunction or a preposition.

It can be used to join two parts of a comparison or used with 'more' or 'less' to compare numbers or amounts:

I am a lot older than my brother.

There are fewer people here than last year.

I would rather go to a restaurant than a bar.

Same sound, different meaning

Average: 3.2 (28 votes)

Some words have the same sounds as other words, but they have different meanings and spellings.

Take a look at these examples and then take the quiz.

Won / One

He won a new car in a competition.
I have one brother and two sisters.

See / Sea

It's too dark to see anything. Turn the light on.
She went for a swim in the sea.

Confusing Words: Felt and Fell

Average: 4.3 (22 votes)

Let's take a look at a pair of words that are commonly confused by English learners: felt and fell.

Felt

Felt is the past tense and past participle of the verb 'feel'.

She felt better after a good sleep.
I haven't felt this sick for a long time.

Fell

Fell is the past tense of the verb 'fall'.

I broke my arm when I fell off the horse.
She tripped and fell down the stairs.

If I were / If I was

Average: 4.4 (33 votes)

Take a look at the two following sentences. Why do we use were in the first sentence and was in the second.

If I were rich, I would buy you a car.

If she was feeling sick, it's good that she went home.

Explanation

If I were rich...<-- I am not rich, but I imagining what I would do if I were.

Homophones - Same pronunciation different meaning

Average: 4 (25 votes)

Homophones are words that have a different spelling, different meaning but the same pronunciation.

For example:

I went to the sea to see my friend.

The words sea and see have the same pronunciation but different meanings and spellings.

Homophone Examples

Buy/By

Buy her a present for her birthday.
She lives by a park.

There, Their and They're

Average: 4.3 (25 votes)

Because most native English speakers pronounce the words there, their and they're the same way, it can be difficult to understand the difference in meaning. The difference in meaning is very important when writing. Using the wrong one in your email is a big mistake. Let's find out the difference in meaning.

There

There is used to show that something exists or happens. Use there for positions - there is the opposite of here.

Is there a post office nearby?

Prepositions of Time, Place and Movement

Average: 3.7 (34 votes)

Prepositions show us a noun's relationship to another word in the sentence. Prepositions usually come before nouns.

Many prepositions are confusing because it is hard to define what they mean on their own and many have similar meanings. Although prepositions are simple for native-speakers to learn, they are usually difficult for English learners.

Prepositions are often used to give us more information about time, place and movement.

With, Over, By

Average: 4 (35 votes)

With
'With' is used to mean 'together' or to show involvement
I was with a friend when I met Sandy.
He worked with his brother in their restaurant.
He ordered champagne with his meal.
Why don't you come shopping with me?

Be, do, have

Average: 3.4 (29 votes)

Auxiliary verbs help the main verb and are in fact also referred to as 'helping' verbs. Auxiliary verbs are: be, do and have. Modal verbs are also auxiliary verbs but we are going to focus on be, do and have in this module.

The verbs be, do and have can also be used as main verbs or as auxiliary verbs. Here are examples of be, do and have as main verbs:

On, at, and in

Average: 4.1 (31 votes)

A preposition links a noun, pronoun or noun phrase to some part of the sentence. Prepositions are always difficult to learn therefore you should practise using the prepositions with the correct phrases or nouns.

Here are few examples of on, at, or in:

On

On – to show a surface of something
I put my phone on the table.
Don’t leave any important papers on your desk.