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Words Often Confused

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Words Often Confused

Words Often Confused

People often confuse the following words. Some of these words are homonyms—that is, their pronunciations are the same. However, these words have different meanings and spellings. Other words in the following groups have the same or similar spellings yet have different meanings.

all ready 

[adjective] all prepared 
  • The students were all ready for summer vacation. 

already 

[adverb] previously 
  • Have they already announced the winner? 

all together 

[adverb] in unison; at the same time 
  • At the signal, the runners will start all together
[adjective] in the same place 
  • The family will be all together at the wedding. 

altogether 

[adverb] entirely 
  • The line for the movie is altogether too long.

brake 

[verb] to slow down or stop 
  • Jerry braked when the ball rolled in front of the car. 
[noun] a device for slowing down or stopping 
  • Those steep hills are hard on the brakes

break 

[verb] to cause to come apart; to shatter 
  • That kind of plastic may bend, but it should not break
[noun] a fracture 
  • The break happened when he fell off the bicycle.

capital 

[noun] a city that is the seat of government of a state or country; money or property 
  • The capital of Germany is Berlin. 
  • He invested all his capital in his business. 
[adjective] punishable by death; of major importance; uppercase 
  • What is your position on capital punishment? 
  • Increasing attendance at our meetings is a capital concern. 
  • Proper nouns begin with capital letters. 

capitol 

[noun] a building in which a legislature meets 
  • The Capitol is beautiful at night. [U.S. Capitol is always capitalized.] 

coarse 

[adjective] rough; crude 
  • The road was covered with coarse gravel. 

course 

[noun] path of action; part of a meal; series of studies 
  • This path follows the course of the river. 
  • The first course at the banquet was asparagus soup. 
  • How many courses are required for graduation? [also used in the expression of course, meaning naturally or certainly]
    Of course, we meant to invite you!

complement 

[noun] something that makes whole or complete 
  • Is angle ABC the complement or the supplement of angle CBD? 
[verb] to make whole or complete 
  • A glass of water complements any meal. compliment 
[noun] praise; a courteous act or expression 
  • She meant that comment as a compliment
[verb] to express praise or respect 
  • The children were complimented on their behavior. 

desert 

[noun, pronounced des’• ert] a dry region 
  • This overgrazed area may become a desert one day. 

desert 

[verb, pronounced de sert’] to leave or abandon 
  • Why did you desert me when I needed you? 

dessert 

[noun, pronounced des • sert’] the sweet, final course of a meal 
  • I don’t want any dessert, thank you.

its 

[possessive form of the pronoun it] belonging to it 
  • The cat yawned and stretched its back. 
it’s [contraction of it is or it has] 
  • It’s not cold outside today. 

lead 

[verb, rhymes with feed] to go first; to guide 
  • The park ranger will lead us to the campground. 

led 

[verb, past form of lead] went first 
  • The drum major led the marching band. 

lead 

[noun, rhymes with red] a heavy metal; graphite used in a pencil 
  • Are those old pipes made from lead or copper? 
  • The lead in this pencil keeps breaking. 

loose 

[adjective, rhymes with noose] free; not close together; not firmly fastened 
  • The hamsters escaped from the cage, so they may be loose in the house. 
  • When there is loose gravel on the road, you should slow down. 
  • One of the buttons on my jacket is loose

lose 

[verb, rhymes with shoes] to suffer loss of 
  • Did you lose the phone number?

passed 

[verb, past form of pass] went beyond 
  • Did you see me when I passed your house? 

past 

[noun] time gone by 
  • The incident happened in the past
[adjective] of a former time 
  • In the past few minutes, I’ve made five phone calls. 
[preposition] beyond 
  • Craig drove past the school and turned around. 

quiet 

[adjective] still; silent 
  • After Labor Day, the beach is peaceful and quiet

quite 

[adverb] completely; rather; very 
  • The merry-go-round was quite old and rickety.

than 

[conjunction, used for comparisons] 
  • It’s windier today than it was yesterday. 

then 

[adverb] at that time; next 
  • When everyone is seated, then we can start the movie.

their 

[possessive form of they] belonging to them 
  • The lizards have shed their skins again. 

there 

[adverb] at that place 
  • One of the skins is over there, next to that rock. [expletive, used to begin a sentence] 
  • There is something fascinating about this process. 

they’re 

[contraction of they are] 
  • The hinges need to be oiled again because they’re starting to creak. 

who’s 

[contraction of who is or who has] 
  • Do you know who’s living in that house? 

whose 

[possessive form of who] belonging to whom 
  • Whose artwork was included in the book?
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Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎

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