6 English Word Pairs That Confuse Absolutely Everyone
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6 English Word Pairs That Confuse Absolutely Everyone

English unarguably plays a significant role in our lives, and yet there are certain aspects of this language; we often get confused with and use incorrectly. Homophonic words are one such aspect that causes uncertainty in the minds of the user while using English spellings; here is an in-depth article on it. Some remarkably distinct words share the same pronunciation and add to the real wilderness of the English language.  

Whether we accept it or not, we can’t help but Google the silliest words because, hey, it’s embarrassing to be unaware of the right name. Oh, wait! Isn’t it supposed to be accepted? For a lot of you still trying to figure it out, you’re not alone! Here are some words that often put us in a tight spot.

PRINCIPAL/PRINCIPLE: 

These words are the ones we came across in school frequently, but when it comes to spelling them out, well, we were always confused with that.

While ‘principal’ means main or chief, ‘principle’ means a concept or an idea, yet it was always a struggle back in school to spell the word ‘Principal’ right on our leave applications. Was it the Principal or Principle of Evolution that we learned in the 10th? I might still fumble with that one. Unlucky for us, you can’t tell them apart with pronunciation, which makes it more robust.

LOSE/LOOSE: 

It is obvious to get confused with just a straightforward difference setting them apart and slightly similar usage. ‘Did you lose or lose weight?’ ‘Are those jeans loose or loose on your waist?’

We often feel the need to check on this one!

Lose is a verb that means being deprived of something, and loose is an adjective that refers to not being firmly fixed—still looking for a way to tell them apart? Here’s how one can do that – lose is pronounced with ‘I’m in the end and loose with.’ Remember this the next time you’re on a diet trying to ‘lose weight or while shopping for the right size of a dress.

ADVICE/ADVISE: 

How old were you when you realized the two were different words? It is a widespread mistake that most of us make because the two terms are used in very similar contexts.

Here’s how the two are quite different from each other- ‘advice’ is a noun, which means a recommendation or opinion like an action guide, while ‘advice’ is a verb, which means a suggestion worth following. When it comes to their pronunciation, advice ends with ‘-ice’ and Advise ends we ‘-ize.’  

Similar to this, there are other pairs of words in British English that we often get stuck with- Practice and Practise, Device, and Devise. Now that isn’t very clear! Now, don’t forget to give your friend a piece of advice about staying hydrated!

WHETHER/WEATHER: 

I still can’t get over how every science class back in school got me biting my nails and wondering if it’s weather or whether? ‘Weather’ is primarily used in the form of a noun. It is the state of the atmosphere in a specific region over a short period. Whereas ‘whether’ in conjunction. It is mostly used to bring a clause, a doubt, or a choice. So, don’t forget to check the ‘weather’ before deciding ‘whether to wear a coat or a sweater.

And now that we’re here, weather and climate CAN’T BE INTERCHANGED. Climate refers to what the weather is like over a long period in a specific region. And hence, they are two very different words.

WHOSE/WHO’S: 

Many find this confusion because, usually in English, possession is shown with an apostrophe, but not in this case. The ONLY thing that ‘who can mean is who+is and who+has, nothing else. While ‘whose’ is the possessive version of ‘who.’ 

Luckily, the two are used in different contexts, making it easier for us to distinguish between them. For example, Whose paper is this? Who’s (who is) going out to get the groceries? Whose dog is this? 

STATIONARY/STATIONERY:

These two words have just one letter off, which might not seem like a big deal, but that small difference makes them poles apart in their meaning. To begin with, ‘stationary’ is the older of the two terms. It is an adjective, and it’s used to describe something fixed or immobile. 

On the other hand, ‘stationery’ is derived from the word ‘stationer,’ which refers to a person who sells things used in writing. ‘Stationery’ is a noun, and it describes something that a stationer sells. 

So, without wasting another minute, grab some stationery, and sit stationary on your desk and write an excellent little note.

Every language is filled with confusion, and that is what makes it beautiful. We might still end up forgetting most of these and repeat our mistakes, but that is just the charm of languages. After all, it’s details like these that make every word special and unique. 

6 English Word Pairs That Confuse Absolutely Everyone

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About Chris Holland

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