Can You Tell These Commonly Misused Words Apart?

10/29/2014 01:19 EDT | Updated 12/29/2014 05:59 EST
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Let's face it: there are some words that have been put on earth just to trip up the masses with their spellings. Words like receive, perseverance, cemetery, occasionally, grateful, calendar, judgment, separate, and liaison -- are all booby traps of the English language. As are privilege, rhythm, twelfth and memento. But commonly confused words are the bane of offices, schools, the internet, and publications everywhere. It seems that the only way to beat them, is to memorize them and be done with the matter.

How many of the 24 commonly confused words, below, can you get right?

1. Pooch vs Pouch -- A Pooch is a dog, whereas a Pouch is a compartment. Pouch is commonly misspelled as "Pooch", even in many publications. Do you keep your pooch in your pouch?

2. Chose vs Choose --Chose is the past tense of the verb "To Choose", whereas Choose is the present tense of the same verb. Chose is commonly mistaken for Choose, and after a lifetime many still stumble over these close cousins. I chose the red shoes; which ones did you choose?

3. Seize vs Cease -- To Seize means to grab, whereas To Cease means to stop. As the words sounds similar when spoken, it's understandable that the two words are often mixed up when spelled.

4. Precede vs Proceed -- To Precede means to come before something in time, whereas To Proceed is to begin or continue a course of action. The similar sound of these verbs is likely the reason for their common mix-ups.

5. Deter vs Detour -- To Deter means to discourage, whereas to Detour is to take a long and roundabout route. The traffic in Toronto often deters me, and I take the detour.

6. Conscience vs Conscious -- A Conscience (noun) is one's judgment which assists from knowing right from wrong, whereas the word Conscious (adjective) refers to being awake and aware. Are you conscious that you have a conscience?

7. Principal vs Principle -- A Principal refers to the person with the highest authority within an organization, whereas a Principle is a fundamental truth that is the basis for a system of belief. The school principal knows that hard work is the principle to success.

8. Compliment vs Complement -- To Compliment means to pay someone a kind word, whereas to Complement is to add to something in a way that improves it. Thanks for the compliment that my new rug complements my couch.

9. Whether vs Weather - The word Whether (conjunction) expresses a choice between alternatives, whereas Weather (noun) describes the atmospheric conditions. I wonder whether the weather will be hot or cold today?

10. Lead and Led -- Check your résumé and weed out this error. The word Lead (as in a lead pipe), and the word Led (as in I led the thirsty horse to water), are both pronounced the same. Therefore, they are commonly confused when they are the conjugated form of "To Lead". Correct: I lead a weekly team meeting (present tense, pronounced like seed). Correct: I once led a group in yoga exercises (past tense, pronounced like fed).

11. Sensual vs Sensuous -Sensual means arousing gratification of the senses and physical pleasure, whereas Sensuous means aesthetically pleasing, gratifying, rich, and luxurious.

12. Effect vs Affect -- Most people get these two words wrong all of the time. Effect (noun) is the result or change that has occurred, whereas Affect (verb) means to produce a change in something. The verb "To Affect" describes influencing someone or something, rather than causing it.

Examples of the word Affect: Warm weather in January can positively affect the mood of Canadians. The Manager's negativity affected all of his subordinates.

Examples of the word Effect: Two effects of her new job, were a higher salary and a shorter commute. When did you say the new CASL law took effect?

So, how many of these commonly confused words did you get right?