Commonly Misused Words

If you grew up speaking American English, you know that our language is full of words that sound alike but have very different meanings. These words are called Homonyms, and they’re some of the more difficult words to recognize.

So, here’s a list of the most commonly misused homonyms and what they mean!

Your– It belongs to you. That’s YOUR apple.

You’re– a contraction of You are. YOU’RE the winner!

There– a location. It’s over THERE.

Their– it belongs to a group. THEIR house is in the mountains.

They’re– a contraction of They Are. THEY’RE the prime minister of Australia.

No– a refusal. NO, I don’t want any candy.

Know– to be aware. I KNOW my address.

Are– something that is. You ARE the chosen one!

Our– indicates possession of a group. That’s OUR table.

When– a time. WHEN is the concert?

Win– an accomplishment. Will you ever WIN an Oscar?

Compliment– a nice thing you give. I want to COMPLIMENT your style!

Complement– two things that work well together. Those curtains COMPLEMENT the rug perfectly.

To– indicates a direction. I’m going TO the store.

Too– in addition. I want to come, TOO!

Two– A number. TWO coffees, please.

Which– a decision between different choices. WHICH house will you buy?

Witch– someone who practices the art of witchcraft. My grandmother was a WITCH.

Wich– an obsolete suffix for a settlement. Welcome to NorWICH.

Effect– the result or outcome. That was not the EFFECT we anticipated.

Affect– to influence a result. Did the midterm AFFECT your GPA?

Except– to exclude something. You can go anywhere you like, EXCEPT the west wing.

Accept– to receive something. I ACCEPT your apology.

Then– a sequence of events. We finish our work, THEN we play!

Than– to compare something. I am a better writer THAN she is.

Its– the possession of a thing. The dog chases ITS tail.

It’s– a contraction of It Is. I am sad because IT’S raining.

Insure– to have insurance. I need to INSURE my car.

Ensure– to make something happen. I need to ENSURE that mom and I have a place to stay.

Assure– to be confident in something. I ASSURE you, my skills are more than enough for this problem. 

Saw– the past tense of see. Yes, I SAW the movie.

Seen– also the past tense of see, but is never used alone. I HAVE SEEN that movie before.

Choose– to decide between two options. You must CHOOSE your career. 

Chose– the past tense of choose. She CHOSE to be a doctor. 

Loose– not tight. The pants are too LOOSE

Lose– to fail. If you come in third place, you LOSE the tournament. 

Homonyms are an essential part of the English language, but it can be hard to know which word is the right one to use. Hopefully, this little guide can help you pick the best options and take your writing to the next level!

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