When I was learning Japanese, there many similar words that confused me.  I had doubts about how to use the words correctly and didn’t exactly know what situations they were useful in.  Guess what?  There are confusing words in EVERY language and today, I want to help explain some confusing English words.

When you’re studying English, you may come across words like these:

  • borrow, lend, loan
  • breath, breathe
  • dessert, desert
  • complement, compliment
  • lightening, lightning…and many, many more.

Do you sometimes hesitate to use certain words because you’re not 100% sure that it’s the right one?  I know I have!  If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering two things:

“What’s the exact difference?”

“When do I use this word and when do I use that word?”

Well let’s clear up your doubts on how to use these words.  Take a look below starting with words that start with the alphabet letter, A.

Accept | Except
Accept is a verb that means:

  • to hold something as true
  • → “The police officer accepted John’s reasons and let him off without a ticket.” to receive something willingly
    → “Ms. Jones accepted the cup of hot tea from her host.”
  • to answer yes (especially to an invitation)
    → “I’d love to accept your party invitation, but I’ll be out of town at that time.”

Except is a preposition that means:

  • apart from
    →  “I can resist sweets except chocolate ice cream!”
  • not including
    → “Everyone had a good time at the wedding except Lisa.”
  • excluding
    → “Except for Mary, everybody else got a pay raise.”

Already | All Ready
Already is an adverb that means:

  • before a specific time or action
    → ”David already finished his homework before dinnertime.”

All ready means:

  • something that is completely prepared.
    → ”The children were all ready to go camping this weekend.”

Among | Between
Among is a preposition that is:

  • used for three or more things:
    → ”Rachel had to choose among three universities she might attend.”
  • used to portray the idea of being part of a group
    →  “There are positive people among us who want more out of life.”

Between is a preposition that is:

  • used to describe something in the middle of two things
    →  “The map is between the palm tree and boat.”
  • used for two or three separate things
    →  “I couldn’t decide between the blue, red or black shirt”

Amount of | Number of | Quantity of
Amount of is used for:

  • things you cannot exactly measure (non-countable nouns)
    →  “I have a huge amount of work to do before the presentation.”
    →  “Joey has a large amount of money in the bank.”
    →  “James and Jessica got married today and their amount of happiness is great!”

Quantity of is used for:

  • things you CAN measure (countable-nouns)
    →  “The scientist measured the quantity of fluid inside the bottle.”
    →  “There is a limited quantity of free cake samples left.”
    →  “Large quantities of food were delivered to the homeless shelter.”

Number of is used for:

  • animate and inanimate objects (countable nouns)
    →  “Maria bought a large number of mangoes for the cocktail party.”
    →  “The number of elephants in the jungle are decreasing.”
    →  “The number of people using Facebook is increasing every day.”

Assure | Ensure | Insure
Assure is a verb that means:

  • to guarantee something with confidence
    →  “The chef assured me that the fish was fresh.”

Ensure is a verb that means:

  • to make sure something will happen by double checking
    →  “The janitor ensured that all school doors were locked at night.”

Insure is a verb that means:

  • to provide insurance in case of loss, theft, damage or death
    →  “I insured my new house to protect me against flood, fire and other damages.”

That’s it for today guys!  I hope you better understand the subtle differences now – it can really help you in your speaking and especially in your writing skills.  If there are other confusing words you’d like explained, comment below!

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