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?
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:
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.
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'
If you ask me, I'd advise you to take the job offer.
You are lucky if you have friends to advise you.
There is often confusion over the two words ‘accept’ and ‘except’. Although they sound similar the meanings are very different.
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.
Linking words in English are words that are used to combine or link sentences, two statements presenting contrast, comparison, condition, supposition, purpose, etc. Here are some examples of some linking words.
You can take my car as long as/provided (that)/providing
you don't damage it.
(I will lend you my car on condition that you don't damage it.)
Here is an overview of the use of the quantifiers a lot of, much and many.
A lot of’ can be used in all sentences; affirmative, negative and interrogative.
We made a lot of mistakes during our first test.
I don't have a lot of friends who live next to me.
Did you do a lot of shopping in London?
There is often confusion over the words ‘passed’ and ‘past’.
The word 'passed' is the past simple of the verb pass or the past participle of the verb:
She passed the exam with distinction. Pass = to be successful in a test
The secretary passed the message to me. Pass = hand over (give)
We'd passed the shop 5 times before we saw it. Pass = to move past
For giving advice or expressing a conclusion 'should' and 'ought to' are interchangeable. They are used to express the same ideas.
You should/ought to stop smoking.
He has been working on the project all week. He should/ought to be ready by this evening.
Should is also used in hypothetical situations:
Should anyone call, take a message.
Call me should you need any help.
Here is a brief explanation of how 'whatever', 'whenever', 'wherever', 'whichever' and 'whoever' are used:
Whatever = anything or everything; regardless of what, (many things can happen but):
Whatever you do, don’t forget to buy the drinks for dinner tonight.
Ignore David, whatever he says. He's just a joker.
Whenever = every time; at any time; when is not important:
Whenever I plan a barbeque it rains.
Peter interrupts me whenever I speak.