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Confusing Words

On, at, and in

Average: 4.1 (34 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 – 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: 3.9 (31 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 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: 3.8 (27 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.


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' 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)

Effect and Affect

Average: 4.8 (19 votes)

There is often confusion over the words ‘effect’ and ‘affect’. In order to understand the difference it is important to remember that ‘effect’ is a noun whereas ‘affect’ is a verb.


Effect is a noun meaning outcome, consequence or appearance.
What effect did the economy have on your business?


Affect is a verb meaning 'to transform' or 'to change'.
Did the economy affect your business?

Can and May

Average: 4.3 (15 votes)

Two words which are often confused are can and may.


The word can is used to denote ability:

I can swim. ( I have the ability to swim)
She can play the piano. (She has the ability to play the piano)
Can he speak Japanese? (Does he have the ability to speak Japanese)


The word may is used to denote permission:

Beside and Besides

Average: 4.5 (17 votes)

Sometimes beside and besides are confused especially with writing.


The word beside is a preposition. It means close to or next to.
Come and sit beside me.
He lives beside a Turkish take away.