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Commonly confused English words

5 lutego 2018, poniedziałek,

Word pairs in English can often be confusing and this happens for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes the words have similar spellings (argue / agree). Sometimes the words have only slightly different meanings (learn/study).  Sometimes the word pairs are being compared to false cognates in the learner’s language and their meanings are not exactly the same. (eventually / ewentualnie). The word pairs mentioned above as well as the concept of false cognates have been discussed in previous blogs which we welcome you to refer back to however today we are going to look at even more word pairs in English that are often confused by English language learners.

© British Council

wish and hope

Say: I hope you have a nice weekend rather than I wish you had a nice weekend.

Wish is usually for things that are impossible; if something is possible, use hope.

I hope you will come to my party. (You might come.)

I wish you would come to my party. (You have made it clear that you are NOT going to come.)

Confusingly, we often use wish for things which are possible, often in certain set expressions (e.g. “I wish you a merry Christmas”, “I wish you the very best of luck in your new job”, etc.)

for and since

For is used with durations (i.e. periods of time); since is used with a specific point in time. Examples: I have lived in Poland for eight years. I have lived in Poland since 2010.

convenient and comfortable

If something is convenient, it is easy to use, or close by/easy to access. For example, My office’s location is very convenient – it’s merely a ten minute tram ride away from my home. If something is comfortable, it makes you feel relaxed and does not cause any pain. For example, This sofa is so soft and comfortable.

affect and effect

Affect is a verb, meaning to influence someone or something, or cause them to change. For example, Alzheimer’s disease typically affects older people. Effect is a noun, meaning a change, reaction, or result that is caused by something. For example, His music teacher had a profound effect on his choice of career.

fit and suit

Fit and suit are both verbs. If something fits us, it is the right shape or size for us. For example, This T-shirt doesn’t fit me – it’s too small. If something suits us, it makes us look attractive. For example, Orange really suits you – you look fabulous in that orange dress.

accept and except

Accept means to take or receive something physically OR to mentally register something as true – I accept that I am probably going to fail tomorrow’s exam. / I accept your apology.

Except means excluding or without something – I like all music except heavy metal.

 Quick quiz

 Choose the correct alternative:

1) This cardigan doesn’t fit / suit me – it’s the wrong size and I’ll have to take it back to the shop.

2) I have been working here since / for last December.

3) I hope / wish you get well soon!

4) This house is very comfortable / convenient for the motorway.

5) I think these changes will affect / effect the company in a very positive way.

6) She shouldn’t except / accept so many presents from her new boyfriend all the time.


1) fit     2) since     3) hope     4) convenient     5) affect       6) accept