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Most of the Examination papers in English contain a question on the use of words of similar sound but different in meaning. The question usually takes a form something like the following:
Use these words in sentences to show that you know their meanings:
aisle diary principal stationary compliment
isle dairy principle stationery complement
A comprehensive list of these words is found in most good spelling books and it is not intended to repeat these here.
It is, however, important for the student to remember that when he is asked to use these words in sentences in order to illustrate their meaning, his sentences should be explicit enough as to leave no doubt in the examiner's mind that the writer knows the exact meaning of the words which he is using.
Take for example the words stationary, stationery. When used in the following sentences the meaning is not fully brought out.
(a) The bus is stationary, (b) I bought some stationery at the store.
Sentences (c) and (d) however, leave no doubt in the reader's mind that the writer is fully acquainted with the meaning of the words:
Wait until the bus is stationary before attempting to get off.
I will need a good deal of stationery to write all these letters.
Note also that it is a good plan to underline the significant word in the sentence.
See also Words
adoptive with adopted:
children are adopted,
but parents are adoptive.
|adverse, with averse,||adverse, `unfavourable, bad',||with averse, which means `strongly disliking or opposed to', as in I am not averse to helping out.|
|affect and effect:||affect means `make a difference to',||whereas effect means `a result' or `bring about (a result)'.|
|ambiguous with ambivalent:||ambiguous primarily means `having more than one meaning, open to different interpretations',||while ambivalent means `having mixed feelings'.|
|amoral with immoral:||amoral means `not concerned with morality',||while immoral means `not conforming to accepted standards of morality'.|
|appraise with apprise||appraise means `assess',||while apprise means `inform'.|
|apposite with opposite||
apposite is suitable for or appropriate to what is happening or being discussed.
|Opposite: situated on the other or further side when seen from a specified or implicit viewpoint|
|augur with auger||augur`be a sign of (a likely outcome)',||with auger (a tool used for boring).|
|censure with censor:||censure means `express strong disapproval of',||whereas censor means `suppress unacceptable parts of (a book, film, etc.)'.|
|climactic, with climatic||climactic, `forming a climax',||with climatic, which means `relating to climate'.|
|complacent, with complaisant||complacent, `smug and self-satisfied',||with complaisant, which means `willing to please'.|
|complement, with compliment||complement, `a thing that enhances something by contributing extra features',||with compliment, which means `an expression of praise' or `politely congratulate'.|
|continuous and continual: with continuous||continuous primarily means `without interruption', and can refer to space as well as time, as in the cliffs form a continuous line along the coast;||continual, on the other hand, typically means `happening frequently, with intervals between', as in the bus service has been disrupted by continual breakdowns.|
|council with counsel||council, an administrative or advisory body,||with counsel, advice or guidance.|
|councillor with counsellor||a councillor is a member of a council,||whereas a counsellor is someone who gives guidance on personal or psychological problems.|
|credible with creditable||credible means `believable, convincing',||whereas creditable means `deserving acknowledgement and praise'.|
|definite with definitive||definite (`certain, sure')||with definitive, which means `decisive and with authority'.|
|defuse with diffuse||defuse, `remove the fuse from (an explosive device)' or `reduce the danger or tension in (a difficult situation)',||with diffuse, which means `spread over a wide area'.|
|desert with dessert||desert (a waterless area)||with dessert (the sweet course)!|
|discreet with discrete||discreet, `careful not to attract attention or give offence',||with discrete, which means `separate, distinct'.|
|draft with draught||draft and draught. In British English draft means `a preliminary version' or `an order to pay a sum',||whereas a draught is a current of air or an act of drinking; in North American English the spelling draft is used for all senses. The verb is usually spelled draft.|
|draw with drawer||draw, which is primarily a verb,||with drawer meaning `sliding storage compartment'.|
|egoism with egotism||egoism and egotism: it is egotism, not egoism, that means `excessive conceit or self-absorption';||egoism is a less common and more technical word, for an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.|
|envelop with envelope||envelop without an e at the end means `wrap up, cover, or surround completely',||whereas an envelope with an e is a paper container used to enclose a letter or document.|
|exceptionable with exceptional||exceptionable (`open to objection; causing disapproval or offence')||with exceptional (`not typical' or `unusually good').|
|fawn with faun||a fawn is a young deer, and a light brown colour;||a faun is a Roman deity that is part man, part goat.|
|flaunt with flout||flaunt means `display ostentatiously',||while flout means `openly disregard (a rule)'.|
|flounder with founder||flounder generally means `have trouble doing or understanding something, be confused',||while founder means `fail or come to nothing'.|
|forego with forgo||forego means `precede',||but is also a less common spelling for forgo, `go without`.|
|grisly with grizzly||grisly with grizzly, as in grizzly bear: whereas grizzly is from the same root as grizzled and refers to the bear's white-tipped fur.||grisly means `causing horror or revulsion',|
|hoard with horde||a hoard is a store of something valuable;||horde is a disparaging term for a large group of people.|
|imply with infer||Imply is used with a speaker as its subject, as in he implied that the General was a traitor, and indicates that the speaker is suggesting something though not making an explicit statement.||Infer is used in sentences such as we inferred from his words that the General was a traitor, and indicates that something in the speaker's words enabled the listeners to deduce that the man was a traitor.|
|the possessive its with the contraction it's||the possessive its (as in turn the camera on its side)||with the contraction it's (short for either it is or it has, as in it's my fault; it's been a hot day).|
|loath with loathe||loath (`reluctant; unwilling')||with loathe, `dislike greatly'.|
|loose with lose||loose with lose: as a verb loose means `unfasten or set free',||while lose means `cease to have' or `become unable to find'.|
|luxuriant with luxurious||luxuriant, `rich and profuse in growth',||with luxurious, which means `characterized by luxury; very comfortable and extravagant'.|
|marital with martial||marital, `of marriage',||with martial, `of war'!|
|militate with mitigate||militate, which is used in the form militate against to mean `be an important factor in preventing',||with mitigate, which means `make (something bad) less severe'.|
|naturism with naturalism||naturism (nudism) and naturist (a nudist) with naturalism and naturalist: naturalism is an artistic or literary approach or style;||a naturalist is an expert in natural history, or an exponent of naturalism.|
|officious with official||officious, `asserting authority or interfering in an annoyingly domineering way',||with official, which means `relating to an authority or public body' and `having the approval or authorization of such a body'.|
|ordinance with ordnance||ordinance, `an authoritative order',||with ordnance, which means `guns' or `munitions'.|
|palate with palette||palate and palette: the palate is the roof of the mouth;||a palette, on the other hand, is an artist's board for mixing colours.|
|pedal with peddle||pedal and peddle. Pedal is a noun denoting a foot-operated lever; as a verb it means `move by means of pedals'.||Peddle is a verb meaning `sell (goods)'. The associated noun from pedal is pedaller (US pedaler), and the noun from peddle is pedlar or peddler.|
|perquisite with prerequisite||perquisite and prerequisite: a perquisite is a special right or privilege enjoyed as a result of one's position;||prerequisite is something that is required as a prior condition for something else; prerequisite can also be an adjective, meaning `required as a prior condition'.|
|perspicuous with perspicacious||perspicuous, `expressing things clearly',||with perspicacious, which means `having a ready understanding of things'.|
|principal with principle||principal, `first in order of importance; main', with||principle, which is a noun meaning chiefly `a basis of a system of thought or belief'.|
|proscribe with prescribe||proscribe with prescribe: proscribe is a rather formal word meaning `condemn or forbid',||whereas prescribe means either `issue a medical prescription' or `recommend with authority'.|
|regretful with regrettable||regretful, `feeling or showing regret',||with regrettable, which means `giving rise to regret; undesirable'.|
|shear with sheer||shear, `cut the wool off (a sheep)',||with sheer, which as a verb means `swerve or change course quickly' or `avoid an unpleasant topic', and as an adjective means `nothing but; absolute', `perpendicular', or `(of a fabric) very thin'.|
|stationary with stationery||stationary and stationery: stationary is an adjective with the sense `not moving or changing',||whereas stationery is a noun meaning `paper and other writing materials'.|
|story with storey||story and storey: a story is a tale or account,||while a storey is a floor of a building.In North America the spelling story is sometimes used for storey.|
|titillate with titivate||titillate and titivate: titillate means `excite',||whereas titivate means `adorn or smarten up'.|
|tortuous with torturous||tortuous, `full of twists and turns' or `excessively lengthy and complex',||with torturous, which means `characterized by pain or suffering'.|
|turbid with turgid||turbid and turgid: turbid is generally used in reference to a liquid and means `cloudy or opaque';||turgid tends to mean `tediously pompous' or, in reference to a river, `swollen, overflowing'.|
|unexceptionable with unexceptional||unexceptionable, `that cannot be taken exception to, inoffensive',||with unexceptional, `not exceptional; ordinary'.|
|unsociable with unsocial and antisocial||unsociable with unsocial and antisocial: unsociable means `not enjoying the company of or engaging in activities with others'; unsocial usually means `socially inconvenient' and typically refers to the hours of work of a job;||antisocial means `contrary to accepted social customs and therefore annoying'.|
|venal with venial||venal (`susceptible to bribery; corruptible')||with venial, which is used in Christian theology in reference to sin (a venial sin, unlike a mortal sin, is not regarded as depriving the soul of divine grace).|
|who's with whose||who's with whose; who's is a contraction of who is or who has,||while whose is used in questions such as whose is this? and whose turn is it?|
|wreath with wreath||wreath and wreathe: wreath with no e at the end means `arrangement of flowers',||while wreathe with an e is a verb meaning `envelop, surround, or encircle'.|
|your with you're||your with you're; you're is a contraction of you are,||while your is a possessive determiner used in phrases such as your turn.|
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Please note there are some excellent links to assist with these pages
see at the end for the links for further information.
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