When your sheep's wool is long and curly, do you sheer it or shear it? When tired, do you lay down or lie down for a nap? Even native English speakers can be confused by homonyms and words that some teachers call "confusables."
About.com's Grammar and Composition Guide, Richard Nordquist, defines over 200 sets of commonly confused words. From A ("A, An, And") to Y ("Your, You're"), each word is defined, an example provided, and a few practice fill-in-the-blank sentences included. Don't miss The Big Quiz, which tests 50 sets of "confusables." To view the quiz without any ads (or to print it), use the Print icon in the upper right-hand corner.
"If most people's employment of the word 'literally' doesn't drive you mad, you're probably guilty of a few misuses yourself. It's one of the most common complaints of the grammar-savvy." Daily Writing Tips is a delightful blog about writing skills. This particular page is an index to all their posts about misused words. It is full of treasures such as "Epiphany or Mere Realization", "Hordes of People Shouldn't Hoard", and "Literally the Worst Mistake You Could Ever Make." Related categories (listed in the left-hand menu) include Spelling, Vocabulary and Grammar 101.
Jane Straus, author of "The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation," provides four pages of words that frequently cause confusion. Some words are simply defined, but others include grammar rules, sample sentences, and the occasional usage chart. The site also includes two interactive ten-question quizzes on the subject. To find them, click on FREE Online Quizzes in the left-hand nav menu, and look for More Confusing Words and Homonyms Quiz 1 and Quiz 2.
Designed as a slide show in ten parts, each word or phrase pair is presented as a question. "If you treat convention with disdain, are you flouting or flaunting the rules?" "If you receive an appropriate punishment, did you get your just deserts or just desserts?" Other amusing Top 10 lists are displayed at the bottom of each page. Be sure to check out Top 10 Most Frequently Searched Words on M-W.com. "Although certain definitions spike in our search results based on current events (see Trend Watch), this list presents the eternally vexing words that remain among the most looked up over time."
Created by a newspaper journalist and a journalism professor, these thirteen practice quizzes are organized alphabetically. By default the questions are displayed one at a time, but in the right-hand corner there is an option to display all questions at once. Each question is a sentence with a choice of two words to fill-in-the-blank. "Edit your work carefully to ENSURE, INSURE accuracy." "She is a DISCREET, DISCRETE person, known for her tact."