The Tricky Twins (once in a while Triplets) are some of the toughest words in the English language. They’re often homophones, words that sound alike (or nearly so), but mean something different and are either formatted or spelled differently.
Sometimes, of course, they’re more like “kissing cousins,” words that sort of look and sound the same. And sometimes, they’re just words that we’ve never learned correctly!
Here are some of the most easily confused words, in no particular order.
|Every day||Each day|
Eating lunch every day is an everyday event.
|Affect (v.)||To influence; to change; to assume (accent on second syllable)|
|Affect (n.)||Psychological term meaning an emotional state (accent on first syllable)|
To cause change
The word RAVEN can help you remember the first definition of each word, the ones you’ll most likely use in business writing.
|Accept||Agree; take; receive|
|Compose||To make up: The parts compose the whole.|
|Comprise||To include; contain; consist of: The whole comprises (includes/contains) the parts.|
|A lot||Frequently (think “a little” to help you remember)|
|Allot||Assign or distribute shares|
|Alot||Does not exist|
|Anxious||Looking forward to with anxiety or fear|
|Eager||Looking forward to with happiness, confidence|
|Continual||Occurring steadily, but with occasional breaks|
|Bad (adjective)||Form used after feel, look, taste, sound, smell|
|Badly (adverb)||Form used after other verbs|
|Principal||The most important; the main idea, person, or thing|
|Principle||A general rule; a truth; integrity|
|Disinterested||Impartial; having no stake in the outcome|
|Imply||Hint or suggest|
|Infer||Conclude by reasoning from something known or assumed|
|Assume||Take as true without evidence|
|Presume||Take as true for a specific reason; have evidence|
|Libel||Damaging public statement made in print (think lawyers)|
|Slander||Damaging public statement made orally (think spoken)|
I’m sure you have your own group of Tricky Twins to learn — am I right? My idea for that is to memorize one of them so that you ALWAYS know when to use it. And if it doesn’t fit the sentence’s context — use the other one!