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 English Vocabulary for learners 


Words that are often confused or misused in English
from:  'accept / except'   to:  'awhile / a while'

  • accept / except
    • Accept means to agree to or say yes to something.
      "What forms of payment do you accept?"

    • Except means ‘but not’, ‘not including’.
      "We accept all forms of payment except credit cards.”"

  • adapt/adopt  
    • Adapt means to change in order to suit different conditions.
      "He brought light clothing with him to adapt to the hot climate."

      Adopt means:
    • 1)  to change your habits and start to do or use something different.
      "He decided to stay and adopt the lifestyle of the local people."

    • 2) to take another person's child as one's own
    • "The couple decided to adopt a child whose parents had been killed during the war."

  • advise/advice 
    • Advise is a verb meaning to make a recommendation.
      "I would advise you to dress warmly. It's very cold today."

    • Advice is an uncountable noun meaning a recommendation.
      "My uncle gave me some really good advice."

  • aisle/isle 
    • Aisle means a passage between rows of seats, or down the centre of a church.
      "The bride and groom walked down the aisle looking very happy."

    • An isle is a small island. The word 'isle' is often used as part of an island's name.
      "They live on the Isle of Wight."

  • alight/a light
    • The verb to alight means to descend and come to rest.
      “The bird alighted on the tree.”
      “Tom was the only passenger to alight from the train”

      The adjective alight means that something is burning or illuminated.
      “Several cars were set
      alight by the rioters.”
      “The sky was
      alight with hundreds of fireworks.”

    • The noun light means ‘a source of brightess or fire’.
      “She opened the shutters to let in the light.”

  • alone/lonely
    • Alone means ‘the only person’ or ‘without anyone else’.
      “She was alone in the car when it broke down.”

    • Lonely means 'unhappy without the company of other people or someone to talk to'.
      “I live alone but I’m too busy to feel lonely.”

  • along/a long
    • Along is a preposition meaning ‘beside’ or ‘parallel to’.
      “She strolled along the bank of the river.”

    • Long is an adjective referring to the length of something.
      “He used a long piece of string to tie up the parcel.”

  • a lot/allot
    • A lot (two words) means a large quantity or amount.
      "Renovating the house will cost a lot of money."

    • Allot means to distribute shares or portions of something.
      "The government will allot funds according to needs."

  • allowed/aloud
    • Allowed means permitted'.
      "The children were allowed to play outside."

    • Aloud means in a voice that can be heard; audibly, not silently.
      "The teacher read the story aloud before dictating it."

  • allusion/illusion
    • Allusion means to hint at or refer indirectly to something.
      "The poem is full of allusions to Shakespeare."

    • Illusion means a deceptive impression or a false idea.
      "A large mirror can give the illusion of extra space."

  • all ready/already 
    • All ready means all prepared.
      "Let's go! We are all ready to leave now."

      Already refers to something that happened previously.
      "When we arrived at the station the train had already left."

  • all right/alright 
    • All right and alright are two different spellings of the same term with the same meaning ('well', 'ok', 'satisfactory').
      "She was ill but she's all right now."
      "I was nervous but I think the interview went
      'Alright' is more informal. Both forms are acceptable, but in formal writing it is preferable to use ‘all right’.
      There are some cases in which only ‘all right’ can be used, for example:
      « I got the answers all right in the exercise.". » means « all correct ».

  • all together/altogether 
    • All together means in a group.
      "The children stayed all together in the kitchen."

      Altogether means "completely, utterly".
      "The question left him altogether perplexed."

  • altar/alter 
    • Altar is a noun meaning a sacred table in a church.
      "She placed the flowers in front of the altar."

      Alter is a verb meaning to change or modify something.
      "The skirt is too wide. I will have to alter it."

  • anyone/any one
    • Anyone means any person at all.
      "Does anyone remember where I left my coat?"

      Any one means any single member of a group.
      "If any one of you is absent on Monday, the English test will be postponed."

  • anyway/any way
    • Anyway means regardless; nevertheless; in any case.
      "They don't really expect us to come, but let's go anyway."

      Any way means in any manner; by any means or method.
      "You can arrange the furniture any way you want. I don’t mind."
      "The goods can be delivered any way you want."

  • apiece/a piece
    • Apiece is an adverb meaning ‘for each one’.
      “Copies are being sold at 50€ apiece.”

    • The noun piece means a part of something.
      “Would you like a piece of cake?”

  • appraise/apprise
    • Appraise means to assess or evaluate something.
      "An expert was called in to appraise the jewels."
      "I need more time to appraise the situation."

      Apprise means to inform or notify someone about something.
      "Please apprise all members of staff of the new regulations."

  • assure/ensure/insure
    • Assure means to speak confidently and positively to dispel any doubts.
      "We can assure you that all the facts have been verified."

      Ensure means to make sure that something will happen.
      "Our excellent transport service will ensurefast delivery."

      Insure means to guarantee indemnity in case of damage, loss or death.
      "The boat and its passengers are fully insured."

  • assume/presume
    • Assume means to suppose something to be the case, without proof.
      "I just assumed he was the owner of the car."

      Presume means to suppose something to be the case, based on probability.
      "After the avalanche, the skiers not found were presumed to be dead."

  • aural/oral
    • Aural relates to the ear and what we hear.
      Oral relates to the mouth and what we say.

  • awhile/a while
    A while and awhile both refer to a period of time, but they represent different parts of speech.

    • Awhile is an adverb meaning ‘for a short time’.
      Awhile cannot follow a preposition.
      “The passengers waited awhile for the doors to open." (no for).

    • A while is a noun meaning a period or interval of time.
      “Dinner is not ready yet. You will have to wait for a while.”

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