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Confusing Word Pairs

Average: 3 (22 votes)

Many students of English have found the following word pairs to be very confusing. Knowing which word to use in a particular situation isn’t always easy, even for native speakers. As a matter of fact, most supermarkets here in the USA have an express checkout lane which reads: “express checkout lane for 15 items or less”. Do you know what’s wrong with this glaring error?

To help you identify which word should be used, and under what circumstances, make sure you know the part of speech the word falls under. Don’t forget that some words can be used as more than one part of speech.

Word pairs:

As / Like

The best rule to follow is to use like as a preposition not as a conjunction. There should not be a verb in the phrase following like. If there is a verb, use “as if”. As should be used to introduce a clause, a group of words with a subject and a verb.
Incorrect: It sounds like he is speaking Spanish.
Correct: It sounds as if he is speaking Spanish.

Incorrect: He looks as his father.
Correct: He looks like his father.

Incorrect: You play the game like you practice.
Correct: You play the game as you practice.

Among / Between

Use between when referring to only two things being considered, and among when more than two things are being considered.

Incorrect: The money will be divided between Sam, Bill, and Ted.
Correct: The money will be divided among Sam, Bill, and Ted.

Incorrect: The final decision is among you and me.
Correct: The final decision is between you and me.

Bring / Take

The best way to remember the difference is to say that we bring to the speaker and we take from the area of the speaker.

Incorrect: What are you going to bring to the party tomorrow?
Correct: What are you going to take to the party tomorrow?

Incorrect: I am still waiting for you. Don’t forget to take my book.
Correct: I am still waiting for you. Don’t forget to bring my book.

Farther / Further

The word farther should be used when something can be measured in terms of physical distance. The first three letters of the word, far, should remind you that this word is used for measurable distances while further is used for situations that cannot be measured.

Incorrect: How much further is it to the school?
Correct: How much farther is it to the school?

Incorrect: I don’t want to discuss it any farther.
Correct: I don’t want to discuss it any further.


Fewer is used with countable nouns, and less is used with uncountable nouns. Were you able to recognize the error at the beginning of the lesson?

Incorrect: Express checkout lane for 15 items or less.
Correct: Express checkout lane for 15 items or fewer.

Don't feel bad if you have difficulty with confusing word pairs, even native speakers can get confused.

Give it a try!

By Thomas Williams

Thomas Williams is a teacher at EC San Diego English School
Link: Adjective Word Order

Now choose the correct sentence:

  • 1 - He doesn’t speak ___ he writes.

  • 2 - She sings just ___ her mother used to sing.

  • 3 - My brother runs ___ the wind.

  • 4 - I can't decide ___ Rome, Paris, or San Diego.

  • 5 - What are you going to ___ back home with you when you return?

  • 6 - We can’t walk any ___.

  • 7 - There were ___ students in class today.

  • 8 - Vegetables are ___.

  • 9 - Our decision ___ many changes.

  • 10 - Is Malta a better place to live ___ San Diego?


Oh~Mostly are correct ,but I

Oh~Mostly are correct ,but I still can't distinguish between affect and effect ~~ii

Yes,most are correct or not

Yes,most are correct or not good and not bad,but I still need more.

A great lesson!!!

A great lesson!!!

Nice lesson

I also can't understand why "effected" is correct while "effect" is a noun?


'Effect' is sometime used as a verb; it means to cause or to create or to cause to come into being.

So what would be 'effected' is what would be caused or what would be created; what would be affected is what would be influenced.

Thank you, Chris. English

Thank you, Chris. English language is so various. I'll try to remember the cases of the usage of "effect" as a verb. Thank you, once more.


I can't express my feeling,really your lessons are great and wanderful...Thank you for helping.


Its fantastic lesson it was useful for me and for others I think ...
Ahmed Grouda


thanks i love it i will make sure i learn more and how do i get the correct answers to the ones i got wronged


Since it is a multiple

Since it is a multiple choice, you have first to fill the gap. second,check your answer by making a click on "CHECK ANSWERS", visible at the end. Right answers are in Green while wrong ones are in Red. Here, for instance, your have to choose between 2 possibilities[note:between vs among].That is, if your answer is red-coloured it simplly means that it is the word you did not choose that is correct. to testify,corret it and check again.In case with more than 02 possibilities do the same thing till you come to a green-coloured answer.

its a very good lesson

its a very good lesson

good lesson

it 's good lesson and iam try to dindn't make amistakes

thank you for this lesson

I have started using this site today, and its very enjoyable.

Confusing Word Pairs.

Well,I think the exercise looks simple,but it helps us a lot to avoid typical mistakes.

on Healthy vs Healthful

May you give an explanation on healthful vs healthy. isn't healthful [HEALTH + FUL (= caractherized by health/containing health,so healthy)]and healthy[HEALTH+Y (about/with the property of HEALTH)]synonymous or equal? this is prompted by the fact that my choice of healthy is red-coloured meaning that it is wrong...

thank you for giving an explanation on the issue.

healthy x healthful

Can you explain the difference between these two terms, cause for me they mean the same, I think you can use both, like, This is a healthy/healthful diet. I can't see the difference, I always say healthy diet, is it wrong?

This Lesson is Helpful.

This Lesson is Helpful. Thanks a lot. Smile
I made some mistakes - must reread the explanation, and learn all the differences Nerd

still can't understand the

still can't understand the difference between bring/take and farther/further Sad(

Very good lesson!

Great lesson, super!!!
8/10 but even thou I'm happy. Smile

Again 8/10! Where is my mind

Again 8/10! Where is my mind (my English) ?

It's very useful and easy to

It's very useful and easy to understand. I like it very much.Thank you for your explaination about 'effect'.


Ita very nice leasson i learned from it very much..


Thank you for the lesson!!!!

Chris, will you explain the difference between healthful and healthy?
In the lesson I answered Healthy, but it turned out to be wrong. I was really surprised 'cause I've even never heard of such a word HEALTHFUL.


Less or Fewer

Perhaps they use "less" at supermarkets, because people will be able to understand it more than "Fewer". At the sametime this will teach people english wrong.. We also have this error here in Australia.