English is not an easy language. We’ve done several lists already that show just how hard it can be for beginners. Aside from all of the strange spellings and funky pronunciations, it also has a lot of words that sound very similar to one another. From homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings) to homographs (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings), learning English involves a lot of memorization and patience. In this list we are going to go over some very basic differences, but to satisfy even our native speakers, we are going to have some very advanced distinctions. If you know every difference on this list, then congratulations! You are better at English than 99% of English speakers. Which should be encouraging for those of you who are beginning to learn. Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean you should give up. There are several items on this list that not even advanced native speakers would know. English is just one of those languages that is extremely easy to pick up but very hard to perfect. Don’t give up though. Keep practicing as much as possible. These are 25 confusing word pairs that seem to be similar but aren’t.
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Complement vs Compliment
To complement something means to supplement it. To compliment somebody means to praise them.
Pills vs Tablets
Pills are small, round, and you take them orally. Tablets encompass all pills plus medicines of other shapes.
Dual vs Duel
Dual means having two parts whereas a duel is a fight between two people.
Crocodile vs Alligator
This is a bit of a simplification, but crocodiles have v-shaped snouts and alligators have u-shaped snouts.
Effect vs Affect
An effect is a change which is the result of an action, to affect something means to make a difference to it (an affect can have an effect)
Isle vs Aisle
An isle is an island while an aisle is a passage between seats or shelves.
Weather vs Climate
Weather can change at a moments notice and varies day to day. Climate describes the long term weather patterns of a region.
Cue vs Queue
A cue is a signal for an action while a queue (in British English) is a line or a sequence of people/vehicles.
Cyclone vs Hurricane
Cyclones have high speed inward spiraling winds. Only cyclones over 74 mph are considered hurricanes.
Meter vs Metre
A meter is a device used for measuring. A metre is a metric unit.
HIV vs AIDS
HIV is a virus that can weaken the immune system. AIDS is a syndrome that results from HIV and can cause fatal harm.
Infer vs Imply
To infer means to draw a conclusion whereas to imply means to suggest or indicate something.
Convince vs Persuade
To convince someone is to make them believe something is true. To persuade them is to talk them into doing something.
Advise vs Advice
To advise is to offer suggestions while advice is guidance offered with regard to prudent action.
Censor vs Censure
To censor means to ban some part of a book or film. To censure is to express strong disapproval.
Great Britain vs United Kingdom
Great Britain consists of England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain plus Northern Ireland.
Aid vs Aide
Aid is assistance given. An aide is someone who assists (an aide gives aid).
Ascent vs Assent
An ascent is an upward movement. To assent means to agree.
Blonde vs Blond
Blonde refers to women and blond refers to men.
Born vs Borne
Born means to come into life, as in “to be born”. Borne means “carried” (something was borne by somebody).
Disinterested vs Uninterested
Disinterested means unbiased or impartial. Uninterested means not interested.
Gorilla vs Guerrilla
A gorilla is a large ape. A guerrilla is a member of an unconventional military group.
Amused vs Bemused
If someone is amused then they are entertained. If they are bemused then they are bewildered.
Augur vs Auger
To augur something means to predict or to forecast it. An auger is a tool used for digging holes.
Braise vs Braze
To braise means to cook meat slowly in liquid. To braze means to solder or to create something out of metals such as bronze.