Why Are These 40 Words the Most Confusing?

confusing words I have seen list after list of words that are commonly misspelled.  I thought I would compile a list of 40 of the most confusing words.  The words people routinely confuse with there counterparts.

accept – to take or receive (something offered); receive with approval
except – with the exclusion of; excluding;

access – the ability; right, or permission to approach
excess – more than or above what is necessary, going beyond what is regarded as customary

adapt – to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly
adept – very skilled; proficient; expert

envelop – to wrap up in or as in covering; to surround entirely
envelope – a flat paper container, as for a letter or thin package, usually having a gummy flat

advice – an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action
advise – to give counsel to; offer an opinion or suggestion as worth following

expand – to increase in extent, size, volume, scope; to spread or stretch out
expend – to use up; to pay out; disburse; spend

affect – to act on; to impress the mind or move the feelings of
effect – something that is produced by an agency or cause; power to produce results; meaning or sense

farther – To, from, or at considerable distance
further – more distant in degree, time, or space

alley – a passage, a narrow back street; a long, narrow, wooden lane or floor along which a ball is rolled
ally – to unite formally, as by treaty, league, marriage, or the like; to associate or connect

foreword – a short introductory statement in published work, as a book
forward – toward or at a place, point, or time in advance; onward; ahead; toward the front

all ready/already
all ready – ready in every particular; wholly equipped or prepared
already – now; by this or that time; previously; prior to or at some specified or implied time

formally – in a formal manner; as regards form; in form
formerly – in time past; in an earlier period or age; previously

all together/altogether
all together – all at the same time;
altogether – wholly; entirely; completely; with all or everything included

later – subsequently; afterward; at or toward an end or late period or stage of development
latter – being the second mentioned of two; more advanced in time

lay – to put or place in a horizontal position or position of rest; to set, place, or apply
lie – a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an inaccurate or false statement

lend – to grant to use of; to give (money) on condition that it is returned
loan – the act of lending; a grant of the temporary use of something; to make a loan of; lend

any way/anyway
any way – in any fashion;
anyway – in any case; nonetheless; regardless

loose – free or released from fastening or attachment; not bound together; to unfasten; undo; or untie
lose – to come to be without; to give up; forfeit; to be defeated in

bazaar – a marketplace or shopping quarter; a store in which many kinds of goods are offered for sale
bizarre – marked unusual in appearance, style, or general character; strange; odd

massage – the act or art of treating the body by rubbing, kneading, patting, or the like
message – a communication containing some information, news, advice, request, or the like

beside – by or at the side of; compared with; apart from; not connected with
besides – moreover; furthermore; over and above; in addition to; other than; except

moral – capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct; conforming to the rules of right conduct
morale – emotional or mental condition with respect to cheerfulness, confidence, zeal

breath – the air inhaled and exhaled in respiration; life; vitality
breathe – to take air, oxygen; to pause, as for breath; to move gently or blow lightly, as air

perfect – conforming absolutely to description of definition of an idea type; accurate, exact
prefect – a person appointed to any of various positions of command, authority, or superintendence

command – to direct with authority; give orders to; to have control or authority over; rule
commend – to represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; recommend; to express approval of

personal – of or relating to a particular person; done, made, or performed in person
personnel – the body of persons employed by or active in an organization, business, or service

confidant – a close friend or associate to whom secrets are confided
confident – marked by assurance, as of success; very bold; presumptuous

picture – a visual representation or image painted, drawn, photographed on a flat surface
pitcher – a container, usually with a handle and spout or lip, for holding and pouring liquids

conscience – a source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement; sense of what is right or wrong
conscious – aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thought, surroundings; aware of oneself

precede – to come, exist, or occur before time; to come before in order or rank; surpass or outrank
proceed – to move or go forward or onward; to go on to do something; to be carried on

cooperation – the act or practice of cooperating; the association of persons or business for common
corporation – a group of people combined into or acting as one body

preposition – to position in advance or beforehand
proposition – a plan suggested for acceptance; a proposal; an offer of a private bargain

costume – a style of dress, including garments, accessories, and hairstyle; an outfit or disguise
custom – a practice followed by people of a particular group or region; habitual patronage, as of a store

quiet – freedom from noise, unwanted sound; peace; peaceful condition of affairs
quite – completely, wholly, or entirely; actually, really, or truly

decent – respectable; worthy; adequate; fair; passable; kind; obliging; generous; suitable; appropriate
descent – a downward inclination or slope; a passage or stairway leading down

recent – of, belonging to, or occurring at a time immediately before the present
resent – to feel indignantly aggrieved at; to send back; to send again

desert – to leave (a person, place etc.) without intending to return; to fail (someone) at a time of need
dessert – a usually sweet course or dish, as of fruit, ice cream, or pastry, served at the end of a meal

than – except; other than; when
then -  at that time; immediately or soon afterward; next in order of time; in addition

device – a plan or scheme for effecting a purpose; a decorative design, figure, or pattern
devise – to contrive, plan, or elaborate; the act of disposing of property

thorough – exhaustively complete; painstakingly accurate or careful; absolute; utter
through – in one side and out the opposite; from the beginning to the end of; up to and including

For more complete definition please consult your favorite dictionary.

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5 Responses to Why Are These 40 Words the Most Confusing?

  1. Oh – I love this post! Great compilation. Grammar goes to the wayside these days. Nice to see you’re keeping notes, and sharing them with the rest of us.

  2. admin says:


    Glad you liked the list. I find myself caught up in the spell checker nightmare often.

    Thanks for visiting.


  3. That is a good post, and it contains information that could easily be useful to many people.

    Happy Veterans Day!

    – David

  4. music says:

    very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  5. Admiral70 says:


    Thanks for stopping by and subscribing to my blog. Glad you enjoyed the list. I will be sure to stop by your blog http://bengo-music.com/. Have a great week.

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