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Confusing Words

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: 4.2 (14 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: 3.9 (31 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)

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

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

Affect

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

Can and May

Average: 4.6 (14 votes)

Two words which are often confused are can and may.

Can

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)

May

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.

Beside

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.

Advice and Advise

Average: 4.8 (9 votes)

Advice and advise are normally confused. 'Advice' is a noun and it means 'a suggestion' or 'a beneficial course of action'. Advice is a non-count word so it has no plural and can't be used with the indefinite article:

Parents give good advice. NOT Parents give good advices.
He gave me a good piece of advice. NOT He gave me a good advice.

'Advise' is a verb and it means 'to give advice'

Advise (verb)

If you ask me, I'd advise you to take the job offer.
You are lucky if you have friends to advise you.

 

Accept and Except

Average: 4.4 (15 votes)

There is often confusion over the two words ‘accept’ and ‘except’. Although they sound similar the meanings are very different.

 

Accept

Accept is a verb that has quite a few meanings:
To believe something is true.
I accept your point and I have to agree with you there.
I accept that you may have been tired but it’s no excuse to fall asleep in front of our clients.

To receive something
I accept your invitation.
They do not accept dogs in that restaurant.