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.

hoofs / hooves

These are two spellings of the same word, and both are accepted in the UK.

horde / hoard

A horde relates to groups of people. He was surrounded by a horde of autograph hunters. The Mongol horde swept down on the town. The word hoard relates to a collection of hidden coins, gold or food.

illusion / delusion

Illusions are ideas which are wrong; He has the illusion that he's good looking. The word delusion is used for ideas which are illogical and against all evidence, and is often linked to mental illness.

imply / infer

I imply and you infer. In other words, I hint at something and you pick up on my meaning. He implied that I was fat!I inferred from what he said that she was not to be trusted.

ingenious / ingenuous

The former means clever or inventive; He invented an ingenious way to open bottles. The latter means lacking in any false thoughts or dishonest motives.

its / it's

The word its indicates possession; He looked at its paws. It's = it is.

leeward / windward

The leeward side of a boat is the sheltered side; the windward side is exposed to the wind.

licence / license

With the noun, the former is the UK spelling and the latter is the US spelling. In the UK , the latter is the verb; The boat is licensed to carry 10 passengers.

lie / lay

If we place ourselves horizontally on the floor, then we lie down (verb tolie). If we did this yesterday, then we lay on the floor. I lay on the floor for an hour this morning doing my relaxation exercises. There is also the verb to lay which refers to, for example, laying a table. I laid the table at 8 o'clock.

lose / loose

If you drop something and cannot find it then you may lose it. If you have a tooth which is wobbly, then it is a loose tooth.


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