Commonly Confused Words

When you help someone to feel better have you had a positive affect on them or a positive effect?  When you run five miles when you have only run up to four in the past, have you run further or farther than before?
Find the answer for these and other commonly confused words below.

lay/lie
lay is to put or place
lie is to come to rest, recline
past tense of lie is lay
past tense of lay is laid

number/amount
number can be counted, separate items
amount is considered collectively, not countable

affect/effect
affect – verb, to influence
effect – noun, a result

effect/affect
effect – verb, bring about , accomplish, produce a specific result
affect – verb, pretense, pretend to be or have

less/fewer
less – not so much, modifies mass nouns
fewer – not so many, modifies count nouns

further/farther
further – nonphysical, figurative distance
farther – physical, literal distance

well/good
well – adverb
good – adjective

ensure/assure/insure
ensure – make sure, make certain
assure – guarantee, promise, put someone’s mind at ease
insure – protect against loss

reoccur/recur
reoccur – repeat one time
recur – repeat more than once

continual/continuous
continual – happening again and again at short intervals
continuous – uninterrupted

volume/number
volume – mass or quantity
number – things that can be itemized or counted

likely/liable
likely – action or event that probably will happen
liable – negative result that will probably happen

adverse/averse
adverse – causing harm, opposed in a contrary or hostile way (followed by a noun)
averse – opposed because of a strong feeling of dislike (followed by proposition to)

elicit/illicit
elicit – draw out
illicit – illegal

its/it’s
its – belonging to
it’s – contraction of it is

than/then
than – use with comparisons
then – at that time, next

imply/infer
imply – hint or suggest
infer – reach an opinion from facts and reason

mucous/mucus
mucous – adjective
mucus – noun

tantamount/paramount
tantamount – the same as
paramount – of greatest importance, rank, or power

turbid/turgid
turbid – unclear, obscure, confused
turgid – enlarged, swollen

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