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 English Vocabulary for learners 


Words that are often confused or misused in English
from:  'backward / backwards'   to:  'currant/current'

  • backward/backwards 
    • Backward (adjective) means not advanced/not intelligent, unable to learn as much as others. 
      (Nowadays it is more acceptable to say that someone has learning difficulties.)
      "The teachers thought the child was backward."

      Backward (adjective) also means towards the back or the rear.
      "The skater did an incredible backward somersault."

      Backwards (adverb) means a movement directed behind or to the rear.
      "The force of the explosion threw him backwards."

  • berth/birth 
    • Berth means a bed or a bunk on a ship, a train, etc.
      It also refers to a place for a boat to stay in a harbour.
      "She booked a berth on the ferry."

      Birth means the start of life; the arrival of a baby or an animal.
      "The young couple proudly announced the birth of their first child."

  • beside/besides 
    • Beside means next to
      "Please leave the pen beside the book."

      Besides means in addition to.
      "What else do you like besides pizza?"

  • break/brake 
    • To break means to separate something into small pieces; to smash
      "If the glass falls on the floor it will break ."

      To brake means to slow down a vehicle or stop it be using the brake.
      "She had to brake hard to avoid the dog."

  • broach/brooch  
    • To broach means to raise a subject.
      "He promised to broach the subject at the next meeting.""

      Brooch refers to a piece of jewellery.
      "The Queen wore a beautiful diamond brooch."

  • cache/cash 
    • A cache is a hidden store of items, or the place where they are kept.
      "The police found a cache of arms behind the house."

      Cash is money in the form of notes and coins.
      "You can pay by cheque or in cash"

  • canvas/canvass 
    • Canvas is a noun meaning a strong tightly-woven cloth used for tents, sails, sports shoes, oil paintings, etc.
      "Many holiday-makers wear canvas shoes in the summer."

      The verb to canvass means to go through an area to try to obtain votes.
      "The candidate set out to canvass the whole district."

  • censor/censure 
    • To censor means to examine (e.g. a book/film/letter) and suppress unacceptable parts.
      "The letters the prisoner received were censored."

      To censure means to express severe disapproval or strong criticism of something.
      "The Minister was censured for not reacting more quickly to the situation."

  • coarse/course
    • Coarse means:
      1) rough or uneven
      "The coarse fabric irritated the baby's skin."

      2) rude or offensive language.
      "Not everyone likes him because he often tells coarse jokes."

      Course means:
      1) A series of classes or lessons
      "Tom is doing a computer course at the moment. "

      2) Part of a meal
      "The main course is grilled salmon."

  • complement/compliment 
    • A complement is something additional that enhances or makes something even better.
      "The music complements her voice perfectly."

      To compliment someone is to express approval, praise or admiration.
      "She complimented the actor on his performance. "

  • consist of / consist in
    • To consist of means to be made up of different parts or elements.
      "What does a full English breakfast consist of?"

      To consist in means to have as an essential feature.
      "His value consists in his talent as a negotiator."

  • counsel/council  
    • To counsel means to give advice or recommend a course of action.
      "Experts were available to counsel the families of the victims."

      A council is a group of people elected to make decisions or administer an area.
      "The town council has decided not to finance the project. "

  • cue/queue 
    • A cue is a signal, reminder or prompt e.g. for an actor.
      "The door slamming was his cue to go on stage."

      A queue is a line of people or vehicles.
      "There was a long queue in front of the cinema."

  • currant/current 
    • A currant is a small black dried grape, used especially in cakes.
      "I used to love my grandmother's currant buns."

      A current is a continuous movement of ocean water from one location to another.
      "The swimmer was swept away by a strong current."

      The adjective current describes something that is happening now.
      "I like to keep up-to-date on current events."

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