Commonly Confused Words

Mar 9, 2008 | Grammar and Usage, Proofreading

Commonly Confused Words

A list of words that are often confused, complied by Writer’s Relief author submission service.

Than or Then: than is used to compare two or more things; then is used for subsequence.

Example: I am much taller than you. I walked to the store, then to the park.

Allude or Refer: allude is bringing something up indirectly; refer is to mention it directly.

Example: They alluded to the fact that she was in the hotel. She referred to her degree to prove that she had experience.

Anxious or Eager:
anxious implies unease or tension; eager refers to happy anticipation.

Example: I was a little anxious about going to a different school. The kids were eager to go on vacation.

Negligent or Negligible: negligent means you’ve failed to do something you should’ve done; negligible means it’s small or unimportant, with no consequence.

Example: The negligent housekeeper left dust under the dresser. The effect was negligible.

Breach or Breech: breach is a violation of a law, obligation, or standard; breech can mean backside, part of a firearm.

Example: The company sued her for breach of contract. Her children were born breech.

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Retch or Wretch: retch is to vomit or try to vomit; wretch is an unfortunate person.
Example: He retched continuously after the previous night’s heavy drinking. The old wretch tried to bring down the spirits of everyone around him.

Disapprove or Disprove: disapprove is to have an unfavorable opinion of; disprove means to prove to be invalid, false, or in error.

Example: My mother disapproved of my new friends. The defendant disproved the judge’s decision.

Enviable or Envious: something enviable is desirable; someone who is envious is jealous.

Example: The lifestyle celebrities lead is enviable. She set him up because she was envious of his wife.

Hoard or Horde: a hoard is a stowed-away supply or cache; a horde is a swarm or large group or crowd.

Example: The squirrel was hoarding food in its cheeks. The show was canceled because the horde was uncontrollable.

Lama or Llama: a Lama is a priest; a llama is an animal related to the camel.

Example: We were excited to meet the Dalai Lama. We saw several llamas on the safari.

For more Writer’s Relief articles like this one, read List Of Confusing Words And Homonyms, Contraction Confusion, or Odds and Ends–More Confusing Words.