Commonly Confused Words

Accept/except

Accept is a verb meaning to receive. Except is usually a preposition that denotes exclusion.

Affect/effect

Affect is a verb that means to influence, and effect is either a noun meaning result or it is a verb meaning to bring about.

Conscience/conscious

Conscience is a noun meaning moral principles. Conscious is an adjective meaning aware.

Definitely/defiantly

Definitely denotes certainty. Defiantly is an adjective describing defiant action or behavior.

Farther/further

Farther usually describes distance, and further suggests a quantity or degree.

Fewer/less

Fewer refers to items that can be counted. Less refers to items that cannot be counted.

Its/it’s

Its refers to the possessive form of the word “it.. It’s is the contraction of “it is.”

Lie/lay

Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. Its forms are: lie\lay\lain. Lay is a transitive verb meaning to put or place.

Loose, lose

Loose is an adjective meaning not secure. Lose is a verb meaning the opposite of win. Lose also means to misplace.

Than/then

Than is used to note comparisons. Then is to denote time or in if/then statements (If x, then y.)

There/their/they’re

There specifies a place or is a mild expletive. Their is a possessive pronoun. They’re is the contraction of ‘they are.”

To/too/two

To is a preposition. Too is an adverb, and two is a number.

Who/whom

Who is used for subjects and subject complements. Whom is used when dealing with objects. Who spilled the milk? For whom the bell tolls.

Who’s/whose

Who’s is a contraction of “who is.” Whose is a possessive pronoun.

Your/you’re

Your is possessive. You’re is a contraction of “you are.”