Accept or except? The top 10 confusing English words you need to know

confusing English words guy with a computer

Should you accept an invitation or except one? Do you eat dessert or desert after your meal? English is full of confusing words, but with these simple explanations you can master using these top 10 confusing English words!

1. ‘Dessert’ or ‘desert’

Dessert is a sweet dish, while the desert is a hot, dry place which is often full of sand.

  • I ordered ice cream for dessert after my main course.
  • I visited a desert while I was in Saudi Arabia.

2. ‘Accept’ or ‘except’

To accept means to receive or agree to something, while except means ‘excluding’.

  • If you are happy with the contract, sign here to accept
  • I like most vegetables except for carrots.

3. ‘There’ or ‘their’

There is an adverb of place which we user to talk about where something is. Their is a possessive pronoun that we use to talk about something that belongs to a group of people.

  • He has lived there for 20 years.
  • They love their

4. ‘Principle’ or ‘principal’

Principles are beliefs, values or basic truths, while principal means the head of a school, or the main thing.

  • He has many principles. One of which is that we should all be kind to each other.
  • The principal actor in the play gave a great performance.
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5. ‘Advice’ or ‘advise’

Advice is a noun and advise is a verb, so you can advise someone by giving them good advice.

  • My mother always gives good advice.
  • I advised him to look for another job.

6. ‘Borrow’ or ‘lend’

To borrow means to receive something as a loan, while to lend means to give something as a loan.

  • Can I borrow your car?
  • Sorry, I can’t lend it to you today.

7. ‘Despite’ or ‘although’

These have a similar meaning but are used differently. Despite is usually followed by a gerund or a noun whereas although is usually followed by a whole clause.

  • Despite the rain, we still had a great time.
  • Despite getting wet cold, we still had a great time.
  • Although it was raining, we still had a great time.

adult with an umbrella in the street

8. ‘Affect’ or ‘effect’

Affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

  • The war has affected all sectors of the economy.
  • The effect of the war is enormous.

9. ‘Personal’ or ‘personnel’

Your personal details include your name, age and nationality, while personnel means the employees of a company.

  • Be careful with your personal details on the Internet.
  • This company has great personnel – they all work so hard!

10. ‘Assure’ or ‘ensure’

To assure someone means to remove doubt or reassure them, while ensure means to make certain that something happens.

  • I assured him that you would be there.
  • Please ensure that you get to the meeting on time.

So, now you know the difference between these confusing English words. Make an example sentence with each one to help you remember it or try using the new words in conversation today.

Similar article: Top 10 ways to say “thank you” in an English email

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