5 commonly confused word pairs in English

The ‘Right’ Word!

5 commonly confused word pairs in English

As an English language learner, one of your goals will be to increase your vocabulary so that you can understand what other English speakers say, and express your thoughts and opinions more precisely.

Knowing and using the right word for the context is important in order to be clear and precise –  particularly in a business situation when you may not feel confident in your linguistic knowledge but want to impress your clients or native-speaking colleagues.

As you know, there are lots of English words that sound the same (or similar) in the English language but have different meanings and spelling.

Here are 5 word pairs that are often confused in English – even by native speakers!


  1. Accept /əkˈsɛpt/: to agree or consent to receive or do something.

“We accept your offer of 20% discount.”

Except /ɛkˈsɛpt/:  not including

“We will agree to all the terms except (for) clause 5.”

  1. Advice /ədˈvʌɪs/ (noun): guidance or recommendations

“Please take my advice and…”

Advise /ədˈvʌɪz/ (verb):  to recommend or offer suggestions

“My lawyer advised me to…”

  1. Affect /ˈafɛkt/: to change or make a difference to something

“Our actions now will affect the future of the business”

Effect /ɪˈfɛkt/:  a result; to cause or bring about a result

“We are seeing the effects of our new marketing strategy.”

“We effected some changes to our policy and they seem to be working.”

  1. Ensure /ɛnˈʃʊə/: to make certain something will happen

“We need to ensure that all our customers have up to date information”

Insure /ɪnˈʃɔː/:  to arrange or provide compensation for the loss of

life, damage to property, for injury etc.

“We need to insure all our buildings and equipment against fire or theft.”

  1. The good: the benefit, advantage of something

“Our plans will be for the good of everyone”

The goods: the products that you sell or give to someone

The goods will be delivered next Monday”


Remember: the context for the word you use is most important. If you know its part of speech (noun, verb etc) and any words (pronouns, prepositions etc) that follow the word, it can make it easier to use them correctly!


For more examples go to: Oxford Dictionary – commonly confused words


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