English words that often get confused

Sometimes people get words confused because they look or sound similar; some are confused because they are rarely used or because people hear other people misusing them.

We have 110 items in the database.

all ready / already

We are all ready to go; in other words, all prepared. This is different from already as in They have already left; something has happened previously.

all right / alright

Your answers are all right (correct). Contrast this with the adverb alright which means things are fine or generally OK but perhaps not excellent.

altar / alter

A church or other religious building has an altar; the word alter means to change something. She altered the design of the jacket.

ambiguous / ambivalent

Ambiguous means that there are two or more possible meanings to a sentence (Below the garage was burning.). Ambivalent refers to someone who is unsure about something; He was ambivalent about the proposal.

amiable / amicable

Amiable = friendly and easy going, generally used for people; amicable also relates to easy going relationships and describes the relationship between two people or perhaps it describes an agreement or even disagreement. (They agreed to have an amicable disagreement.)

amoral / immoral

Amoral means that a person has no morals; immoral means that someone has low or poor morals.

annex / annexe

Annex is a verb ( Japan annexed part of China before WW2. ) An annexe is a place which is adjacent to a larger building.

antagonist / protagonist

An antagonist is an enemy; someone you are fighting. A protagonist describes a main character in a novel or play, or it could be used to describe someone pushing a particular social or political agenda, or viewpoint. They are the main protagonists in this political battle.

assure / insure

Assure means to make certain yourself or to overcome someone else's uncertainty; I'd like to assure you that I am well. Insure has to do with protecting yourself again loss or damage or injury. I want to insure my car.

astronomy / astrology

Astronomy is a science and it deals with observing stars and planets while astrology is a belief that life is influenced by the stars and planets.


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