Article writing for online media - word confusion that spell checks don't pick up on...

Take a look at these two sentences – one of them contains a mistake:

I poured over book after book.

We pored over the catalogues.


Are you uncertain which one is right? There are a lot of words in English that look or sound alike but have very different meanings, such as pore and pour or flaunt and flout. It’s easy to get them confused and most electronic spellcheckers won’t be much help in this type of situation: they can tell you if a word has been spelled wrongly but they can’t generally flag up the misuse of a correctly spelled word.


Here’s a quick-reference list of pairs of words that regularly cause people problems. The words follow the accepted British English spelling.


Word 1
Meaning
Word 2
Meaning
accept
to agree to receive or do
except
not including
adverse
unfavourable, harmful
averse
strongly disliking; opposed
advice
recommendations about what to do
advise
to recommend something
affect
to change or make a difference to
effect
a result; to bring about a result
aisle
a passage between rows of seats
isle
an island
all together
all in one place, all at once
altogether
completely; on the whole
along
moving or extending horizontally on
a long
referring to something of great length
aloud
out loud
allowed
permitted
altar
a sacred table in a church
alter
to change
amoral
not concerned with right or wrong
immoral
not following accepted moral standards
appraise
to assess
apprise
to inform someone
assent
agreement, approval
ascent
the action of rising or climbing up
aural
relating to the ears or hearing
oral
relating to the mouth; spoken
balmy
pleasantly warm
barmy
foolish, crazy
bare
naked; to uncover
bear
to carry; to put up with
bated
in phrase 'with bated breath', i.e. in great suspense
baited
with bait attached or inserted
bazaar
a Middle Eastern market
bizarre
strange
berth
a bunk in a ship, train, etc.
birth
the emergence of a baby from the womb
born
having started life
borne
carried
bough
a branch of a tree
bow
to bend the head; the front of a ship
brake
a device for stopping a vehicle; to stop a vehicle
break
to separate into pieces; a pause
breach
to break through, or break a rule; a gap
breech
the back part of a gun barrel
broach
to raise a subject for discussion
brooch
a piece of jewellery
canvas
a type of strong cloth
canvass
to seek people’s votes
censure
to criticize strongly
censor
to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this
cereal
a grass producing an edible grain; a breakfast food made from grains
serial
happening in a series
chord
a group of musical notes
cord
a length of string; a cord-like body part
climactic
forming a climax
climatic
relating to climate
coarse
rough
course
a direction; a school subject; part of a meal
complacent
smug and self-satisfied
complaisant
willing to please
complement
to add to so as to improve; an addition that improves something
compliment
to praise or express approval; an admiring remark
council
a group of people who manage or advise
counsel
advice; to advise
cue
a signal for action; a wooden rod
queue
a line of people or vehicles
curb
to keep something in check; a control or limit
kerb
(in British English) the stone edge of a pavement
currant
a dried grape
current
happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity
defuse
to make a situation less tense
diffuse
to spread over a wide area
desert
a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone
dessert
the sweet course of a meal
discreet
careful not to attract attention
discrete
separate and distinct
disinterested
impartial
uninterested
not interested
draught
a current of air
draft
a first version of a piece of writing
draw
an even score at the end of a game
drawer
a sliding storage compartment
dual
having two parts
duel
a fight or contest between two people
elicit
to draw out a reply or reaction
illicit
not allowed by law or rules
ensure
to make certain that something will happen
insure
to provide compensation if a person dies or property is damaged
envelop
to cover or surround
envelope
a paper container for a letter
exercise
physical activity; to do physical activity
exorcise
to drive out an evil spirit
fawn
a young deer; light brown
faun
a mythical being, part man, part goat
flaunt
to display ostentatiously
flout
to disregard a rule
flounder
to move clumsily; to have difficulty doing something
founder
to fail
forbear
to refrain
forebear
an ancestor
foreword
an introduction to a book
forward
onwards, ahead
freeze
to turn to ice
frieze
a decoration along a wall
grisly
gruesome, revolting
grizzly
a type of bear
hoard
a store
horde
a large crowd of people
imply
to suggest indirectly
infer
to draw a conclusion
loath
reluctant, unwilling
loathe
to hate
loose
to unfasten; to set free
lose
to be deprived of; to be unable to find
meter
a measuring device
metre
a metric unit; rhythm in verse
militate
to be a powerful factor against
mitigate
to make less severe
palate
the roof of the mouth
palette
a board for mixing colours
pedal
a foot-operated lever
peddle
to sell goods
pole
a long, slender piece of wood
poll
voting in an election
pour
to flow or cause to flow
pore
a tiny opening; to study something closely
practice
the use of an idea or method; the work or business of a doctor, dentist, etc.
practise
to do something repeatedly to gain skill; to do something regularly
prescribe
to authorize use of medicine; to order authoritatively
proscribe
to officially forbid something
principal
most important; the head of a school
principle
a fundamental rule or belief
sceptic
a person inclined to doubt
septic
infected with bacteria
sight
the ability to see
site
a location
stationary
not moving
stationery
writing materials
storey
a level of a building
story
a tale or account
titillate
to arouse interest
titivate
to make more attractive
tortuous
full of twists; complex
torturous
full of pain or suffering
wreath
a ring-shaped arrangement of flowers etc.
wreathe
to surround or encircle

Views: 69

Replies to This Discussion

Nice, handy chart, Trevor - thank you! ~ Blessings!

Wow - Great - Thank You -- Paul 

What a great reference list! 

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