A teacher asked his students to make a sentence with the following words: deduct, defence, defeat, and detail. And here’s the answer little Johnny gave: “The duck jumped over the fence, the feet before the tail.”
When you WRITE, you’ll want to use the RIGHT words. Here’s a list of confusable word pairs (such as right & write). They are listed in alphabetical order according to the first and second word (so each pair appears twice):
A: a & the; accept & except; ad & add; add & ad; affect & effect; ate & eight; aural & oral.
B: bail & bale; bale & bail; band & banned; banned & band; brake & break; bread & bred; break & brake; breath & breathe; breathe & breath; bred & bread; buy & by; by & buy.
C: can & could; canned & can’t; can’t & canned; could & can; cue & queue.
D: dear & deer; deer & dear; desert & dessert; dessert & desert; dew & do; diagnosis & prognosis; do & dew; during & while.
E: effect & affect; eight & ate; eminent & imminent; emit & omit; eye & I; except & accept.
F: faint & feint; fair & fare; fare & fair; feint & faint; flew & flu; flu & flew; for & since.
G: gage & gauge; gauge & gage; grate & great; great & grate.
H: have to & must; heal & heel; heel & heal; hear & here; here & hear; higher & hire; hire & higher.
I: I & eye; imminent & eminent; imply & infer; incidence & incident; incidents & incidence; infect & infest; infer & imply; infest & infect; infested & invested; inflammable & inflammatory; inflammatory & inflammable; innocence & innocents; innocents & innocence; intense & intents; intents & intense; invested & infested; its & it’s; it’s & its.
J: jam & jamb; jamb & jam; jewel & joule; joule & jewel; judicial & judicious; judicious & judicial.
K: know & no; knew & new; knit & nit; knot & not.
L: laps & lapse; lapse & laps; lay & lie; liable & libel; libel & liable; lie & lay; loose & lose; lose & loose.
M: mail & male; male & mail; may & might; many & much; me & myself; meat & meet; meet & meat; might & may; miner & minor; minor & miner; much & many; must & have to; myself & me.
N: new & knew; nit & knit; no & know; not & knot; nutritional & nutritious; nutritious & nutritional.
O: obsolescent & obsolete; obsolete & obsolescent; omit & emit; oral & aural; oral & verbal.
P: pair & pear; peace & piece; peak & peek; pear & pair; peek & peak; piece & peace; presence & presents; presents & presence; prognosis & diagnosis.
Q: queue & cue; quiet & quite; quite & quiet.
R: rain & reign; reign & rain; right & write; ring & wring; root & route; route & root.
S: seam & seem; seem & seam; should & would; since & for; so & such; soar & sore; sore & soar; such & so.
T: tail & tale; tale & tail; than & then; the & a; then & than; that & which; their & there; there & their; to & too; too & to; to & two; translucent & transparent; transparent & translucent; two & to.
U: used & used to; used to & use.
V: vain & vein; vary & very; vein & vain; verbal & oral; very & vary.
W: waist & waste; waste & waist; which & that; while & during; who’s & whose; whose & who’s; would & should; wring & ring; write & right.
Y: yoke & yolk; yolk & yoke; your & you’re; you’re & your.
• Morrison, Elizabeth. The Right Word: Correcting Commonly Confused, Misspelled, and Misused Words. Pompton Plains: Career Press, 2014.
• ESL Tower Grammar Quizzes.
• Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
• ThoughtCo. Lifelong Learning.