Throughout your career as a student, and for the rest of your life, the words that you write will communicate a lot about you. Your papers will tell professors how well you understand the course material, your essays might help you get into a particular school or obtain a scholarship, and your resume will help you get a good job after graduation. But because you will be judged on the words you choose, it’s a good idea to choose the right ones!
Most of us rely heavily on spellcheck these days, but there’s just one problem with this strategy: Spellcheck programs often won’t catch words that are spelled correctly, but used in the wrong context. Unfortunately, these commonly confused words can trip up even the best writers at times, and can make you look a little silly. They might even impact your grades… So double check to be sure you understand the differences between them.
Accept versus Except. You accept an invitation to work out with a friend every day. You plan to go, except when you’re sick.
Advice versus Advise. Your friend seeks your advice on a work situation. You advise her to be honest with her supervisor.
All together versus Altogether. Last summer, you and your friends were all together for perhaps the last time. It was altogether a great time in your life.
Aloud versus Allowed. You like to sing aloud around the house, in the park, or even at the grocery store. But this is not allowed in the library.
Bare versus Bear. During a late-night chat, you bare your soul to your best friend. You couldn’t bear to live without him!
Brake versus Break. You probably brake for small animals crossing the road. You wouldn’t want to break a turtle’s shell.
Compliment versus Complement. You offered your friend this compliment: Her new jacket is the perfect complement to her outfit.
Desert versus Dessert. You wouldn’t want to get lost in the desert. You might crave key lime pie for dessert.
Ensure versus Insure. You want to ensure that you get into your top choice college. You should also insure your car.
You’re versus Your. You’re reading this list right now, because you want to improve your writing skills.
Does this list begin to clarify a few commonly confused words for you? These are just a few of many similar, but confusing words in the English language. There are plenty more, and odds are pretty good that you’ve misused at least a few of them at times. You can access a full list of of commonly confused words by following this link to learn more. Bookmark it, and check it regularly until you feel more comfortable writing papers and essays. It’s the small differences that can make a big impact!