Confusing words in English

reviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process
Welcome to your language journey!
  • - 01

    Learn through the article!

  • - 02

    Pass a language test

  • - 03

    Check the results

  • - 04

    Subscribe to reach fluency!

girl point on notes

As a non-native speaker of English, it is quite common to get confused with the use of certain words. English is a complex language with many words that have similar spellings or pronunciation but vastly different meanings. This can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. In this reference, we will go over commonly confused words in English and provide examples to help you understand their proper usage.

Using the right words

Using the right words is essential to communicate effectively. The words you use can change the entire meaning of a sentence. For instance, "affect" and "effect" may sound similar, but they have different meanings. "Affect" is a verb that means to influence, while "effect" is a noun that refers to the result of an action.

Similarly, "accept" and "except" sound similar, but they have different meanings. "Accept" means to receive or take something willingly, while "except" means to exclude or leave out.

When in doubt, it is always better to look up the meaning of a word to ensure that you are using it correctly. This will not only help you communicate your thoughts effectively but also prevent misunderstandings.

Most commonly confused words in English

There are 10 examples of the most confusing words for learners:

  1. Their, there, and they're
  2. Your and you're
  3. Its and it's
  4. Then and than
  5. To, too, and two
  6. Whose and who's
  7. Lose and loose
  8. Principle and principal
  9. Lie and lay
  10. Farther and further 

Examples of Determiners in Sentences 
Confusing words with similar spellings or pronunciation

Words with similar spellings or pronunciation can be confusing. For example, "compliment" and "complement" sound similar, but they have different meanings. "Compliment" means to praise or admire, while "complement" means to complete or enhance.

Another example is "capital" and "capitol." "Capital" means a city or town that is the seat of government, while "capitol" refers to the building where the legislative body meets.

Confusing words with different meanings or usage

Some words have different meanings or usage, which can be confusing. For example, "bimonthly" can mean both "twice a month" and "every two months." Understand the context in which the word is used to determine its meaning.

Another example is "imply" and "infer." "Imply" means to suggest or indicate, while "infer" means to deduce or conclude. The speaker implies, while the listener infers.

Examples of commonly confused words in sentences

Let's explore some sentences to understand how to avoid mistakes:

  1. "Their house is bigger than ours." (Their refers to possession)
  2. "You're going to love this book." (You're is a contraction of you are)
  3. "Its color is red." (Its denotes possession)
  4. "I would rather walk than drive." (Than is used to compare)
  5. "She has two sisters, too." (Too means also)
  6. "Whose book is this?" (Whose is used for possession)
  7. "Don't lose your keys." (Lose means to misplace)
  8. "The principal of the school is retiring." (Principal refers to the head of the school)
  9. "I lay down on the bed." (Lay is used for the action of placing something)
  10. "I need to go further down the road." (Further refers to distance)


Confusing words list for reference

Here is a list of confusing words for your reference:

  1. Affect/effect
  2. Accept/except
  3. Their/there/they're
  4. Your/you're
  5. Its/it's
  6. Then/than
  7. To/too/two
  8. Whose/who's
  9. Lose/loose
  10. Principle/principal
  11. Lie/lay
  12. Farther/further
  13. Compliment/complement
  14. Capital/capitol
  15. Bimonthly
  16. Imply/infer
  17. Allusion/illusion
  18. Beside/besides
  19. Cite/site/sight
  20. Continual/continuous


Most commonly confused words in English include their, there, and they're, your and you're, its and it's, then and than, to, too, and two, whose and who's, lose and loose, principle and principal, lie and lay, and farther and further.

Words with similar spellings or pronunciation, such as compliment and complement or capital and capitol, can also be tough to learn. By understanding the proper usage of these words, you can improve your communication skills and prevent misunderstandings!

Make your next step to fluency with Promova

Commonly Confused Words Quiz
Get a review of your skills & track your progress as you improve!
10 min
10 questions
Take test
Try Promova
Learn English with a handy app full of awesome lessons!


HEZEKIAHNov 14th, 2023
Great compilation of tricky english word, I'm going to download your application)