Commonly Confused Words and Descriptions

Part of English Grammar Workbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

It’s easy to mix up similar sounding words. Refer to this handy list to help you out if you need a helpful reminder of the most commonly confused words:

Affect: Generally a verb meaning ‘to influence’
Effect: Usually a noun meaning ‘result’

Good: Describes a person, place, thing or idea
Well: Describes an action

Lie: As a verb, ‘to rest or recline’
Lay: As a verb, ‘to place in a certain position’

Its: Shows possession
It’s: Contraction of ‘it is’

There: Indicates a position or place
Their: Shows possession
They’re: Contraction of ‘they are’

Like: As a preposition, means ‘similar to’
As: Precedes a subject/verb statement

That: Preceding a subject/verb statement, usually introduces essential information and isn’t preceded by a comma
Which: Preceding a subject/verb statement, indicates extra information and is preceded by a comma

Between: For two choices
Among: For a group of three or more

Farther: Used for distance
Further: Used for time or intensity

Who’s: A contraction meaning ‘who is’
Whose: A possessive pronoun (belonging to who)

You can’t really compare words that express absolute states. Take the following, for example:

  • Unique (not really unique or very unique)

  • Round (never rounder or the roundest)

  • Perfect (not more perfect or extremely perfect)

  • True (stay away from most true)

  • Dead (deader or deadest? Neither!)