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Confusing Words

Prepositions of Time, Place and Movement

Average: 3.5 (104 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: 3.9 (43 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: 3.5 (34 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: 4.2 (35 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.

Also Too Either

Average: 4 (36 votes)

Here is an explanation of the use of also, too, and either which can cause some confusion as to their functions and position in a sentence.

Also

Also is used in positive sentences to add something which agrees with the previous item/clause.
Marco speaks Italian. Peter also speaks Italian.
I love Japanese food and I also like Indian cuisine.
Sarah is also coming to the station to see James off.

So and Such

Average: 4.4 (21 votes)

So + adjective

'So' when used with an adjective, shows extreme situations. This form is used mostly in speech:
The music is so loud! Why don’t they turn it down?
The hotel was so good. It was worth every cent.

Confusing Words: Being and Been

Average: 3.9 (29 votes)

The words ‘being’ and ‘been’ are sometimes confused. As a rule the word ‘been’ is always used after ‘have’ whereas ‘being’ is never used after ‘have’. It is used after ‘be’.

'Been' is the past participle of the verb 'be' and is usually used with the perfect aspect with ‘have’ in all its forms i.e. had and has
I have been busy. NOT I have being busy.

Amount, Quantity and Number

Average: 4.6 (28 votes)

There are slight differences between 'amount of', 'quantity of' and 'number of'

Amount of

Amount of is used for things you can’t measure. It is usually in front of a singular word.
I have a reasonable amount of work this week. Work – singular non-count word
He has a certain amount of respect for the sales team. Respect – singular non-count word

Confusing Words: Lay and Lie

Average: 4.9 (7 votes)

There is often confusion over the verbs to lay and to lie.

Lay

To lay means to put something in a horizontal position.
The staff lay the tables for dinner at 8 o'clock.
The rebels were urged to lay down their arms and surrender.
His chickens have stopped laying eggs.

It's and Its

Average: 4 (32 votes)

When we are writing it is very easy to get confused by 'it's' or 'its'. Here is an explanation that may help avoid confusion:

It's

'It's' is short for 'it is' or 'it has' and this is the rule. If you can't expand 'it's' to 'it is' or 'it has' then you're using 'its' when you shouldn't and that is wrong.

It's been raining all week and now it's starting to snow. (it has – it is)
It's been a very difficult year for me.
(It has)