17 Most Confusing Words In English With Examples

English is a language with a huge ocean of vocabulary. So the understanding and knowledge of each and every word of English become a little bit difficult. Here also comes some of the words which create a lot of confusion in the minds of readers. In the IELTS examination, vocabulary plays an essential role, and with one wrong word, the whole meaning of the sentence changes.

This article will particularly focus on some of the confusing words in the English language which need to be understood to score higher in the IELTS examination.

1. Accept or Except

This is the commonly mistaken word in English and even its pronunciation is different. ▶️ Accept- means to agree to something or to take something.

Example- I have accepted your proposal.

▶️ Except- means excluding something or beside this.

Example- The country is progressing in many areas except the health sector.

2. Career or Carrier

Again a widely usual and common mistake and still not clear in many students’ minds.

▶️ Career- means one’s occupation or profession or work which someone does in life. 

Example- Career building is important in everyone’s life. 

▶️ Carrier- an object or a person which is used to carry someone or something.

Example- There are many people who act as carriers at pilgrimage sites to move people from lower ground to upper ground.

3. Advice or Advise

Only with a difference of ‘c' or ‘s' this word makes a lot of confusion in mind.

▶️ Advice- it is a noun. It is given.

Example- Students should follow the advice of their teachers.

▶️ Advise- it is a verb. The way with which advice is given.

Example- Teachers are advising their students on their careers.

4. Affect or Effect

A difference in the first letter is a common mistake committed by students which can, too, change the meaning of the sentence.

▶️ Affect- It is a verb. It means to change or have an impact on something or someone.

Example- Smoking affects the lungs adversely.

▶️ Effect- it is a noun. It means the result of a change.

Example- Smoking leaves harmful effects on the lungs.

5. There or Their

Spellings are commonly mistaken as students do not have an idea which will be correct.

▶️ There- it is a place like here or there. 

Example- There are many books on my bookshelf.

▶️ Their- it is a pronoun. Like he, she, it, they, their, etc.

Example- They are least interested in history projects. Their interest is in English.

6. Lose or Loose

Same pronunciation but different meanings and spellings.

▶️ Lose- opposite of win. To lose possession of something or to fail.

Example- He loses this game every time.

▶️ Loose- opposite of tight. Something relaxing or to release.

Example- Nowadays, a trend of wearing loose pajamas is in fashion.

7. Principle or Principal 

▶️ Principle- it means a rule or an idea upon which to act.

Example- Cheating in exams is not in her principles.

▶️ Principal- means head of an educational institute

Example- My school’s principal is very strict and commanding

8. Personal or Personnel 

▶️ Personal- means private possession which belongs only to oneself. 

Example- You are not allowed on my personal property. 

▶️ Personnel- means staff or employees of a company or any organization. 

Example-A company should be very selective in choosing its personnel. 

9. Dessert or Desert 

A little bit of difference in pronunciation but a huge difference in meaning, is also one of the common mistakes a student commits. 

▶️ Desert- a dry place or nature’s creation just like rivers or oceans. 

Example- the Sahara desert is the largest desert in the world. 

▶️ Dessert- a sweet dish was usually taken after dinner or any meal. 

Example- I like to eat ice cream as a dessert for dinner. 

10. Among or Between

▶️ Among - a preposition used to compare where to differentiate someone or something in many people 

Example - John is the tallest boy among all boys in his class. 

▶️ Between - a preposition used to compare someone to two people. 

Example- A lot of fights have occurred between John and Ken these days. 

11. Emigrate or Immigrate 

 A most common mistake and usually a question in the minds of students about the difference between emigrate and immigrate. 

▶️ Emigrate-it means to move out of place or a country. 

Example- Mr. Brown has emigrated from India last week

▶️ Immigrate- it means to move into a place or a country 

Example - Mr. Brown immigrated to Canada last week. 

12. Then or Than 

▶️ Then- It is an adverb of time. It means ‘after that’ 

Example - Firstly, the potatoes are washed. Then, these are peeled. 

▶️ Than- it is a comparative degree and used to compare two objects or two persons. 

Example - John is taller than Justin. 

13. Stationary or Stationery  

▶️ Stationary - means an object or any person is not moving or stick to its place. 

Example - The sun remains stationary but the planets revolve around the sun. 

▶️ Stationery- it means the writing material usually books, pens, pencils, letter pads, etc. 

Example - Students should carry their necessary stationery in their exams. 

14. To or too 

▶️ To- to is a preposition or can be used to Express relation, or with a verb as a gerund.

Example - Please pass this pen to Henry. John is related to Mr. Jack. 

▶️ Too- too means also, to put focus or emphasize something Sun is too hot. 

Example-  Jack and Jill are to going with the class fellows. 

15. Complement or Compliment 

▶️ Complement- it means to complete something or someone 

Example -Burger always complements with fries. 

▶️ Compliment- to say something nice to someone or to praise somebody. 

Example - Mr. Brown has the habit to compliment each and every tasty dish. 

16. Plain or plane 

▶️ Plain- a large area or some adjective that means not special or showy or casual. 

Example -  Northern India has more plain land. 

▶️ Plane- a flat surface or an airplane. 

Example -  He traveled from Punjab to Delhi by plane. 

17. Pray or Prey 

▶️ Pray- means to worship 

Example - God Always prays for good health and education. 

▶️ Prey- to hunt or to kill someone for food or a victim 

Example - The lion saw its prey through long grass. 

Final Words

The English language has some commonly confused words but with the right approach, it can be learned in a better way. Do not fall prey to these common mistakes and practice hard for these words as one wrong word can alter the meanings and will be responsible for the deduction of scores in IELTS.

Dr. Roma

Content Writer