Commonly Confused Words

Barbara J. Feldman

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: Grammar: Index of Commonly Confused Words5 stars

    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.

  • Daily Writing Tips: Misused Words5 stars

    "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.

  • Grammar Book: Confusing Words and Homonyms5 stars

    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 Quizzes in the nav menu, and look for More Confusing Words and Homonyms Quiz 1 and Quiz 2.

  • Merriam-Webster: Top 10 Commonly Confused Words5 stars

    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."

  • Oxford Dictionaries: Commonly Confused Words5 stars

    From "accept/except" to "wreath/wreathe" Oxford Dictionary sets us straight about almost 80 pairs of confusing words. Click on any of the words to be taken to its dictionary page, where you'll find example sentences, synonyms, and a pronunciation guide. Just below the list of word pairs, you'll find links to a few related grammar guides: Shall or will?, Who or whom?, and Can or may?

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Commonly Confused Words." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 29 Jul. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/commonly-confused-words/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published February 18, 2014. Last modified March 2, 2014.

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