JANUARY 2002

Words that are often confused (a lesson):

There are many pairs of words in English that are frequently confused with each other because they are similar in appearance or in meaning. Your incorrect use of these words makes a glaring statement about you to well-educated people - that if you are sloppy or inaccurate in using language, how dependable will you be in other areas? Here is your chance to fix some of those errors.

. ACCEPT: This is a verb meaning "to take" or "to receive" or "to willingly take possession of."

. EXCEPT: Usually a preposition, but sometimes also used as a verb meaning "to omit."

When speaking, it is important to pronounce these words accurately to keep them clear in your mind. Accept begins with the A sound in HAT or CAT. Except begins with the short E sound in PET or MET.

1. Will you accept our apology for the mistake on your bill?
2. Everybody delivered his or her homework except Fred and Violet.
3. The hiring committee decided to except John Harris from future consideration. (to omit him from consideration)

. AFFECT: a verb meaning "to influence."

. EFFECT: usually a noun meaning "result", but sometimes used as a verb meaning "to achieve."

These words are commonly pronounced nearly the same, but the dictionary tells us that AFFECT should begin with the same sound as ABOUT. EFFECT should begin with a short I sound as in SIT or BIT. The more exact you are in your pronunciation of these words, the easier it will be to keep them separate in your mind.

1. This bad weather will affect our business.
2. The bad weather had a negative effect on our business.
3. The football player effected a difficult pass to the forward. (successfully achieved a pass)

Fun Exercise: Circle the correct word inside the parentheses in the following sentences.

1. Having long hair and a nose ring may (affect, effect) a young man's ability to get a good job.

2. Mary asked her boss, "(Can, May) I take my lunch break early today?"
3. The men were sentenced and (hung, hanged) on the town square.
4. Please (take, bring) me that dictionary!
5. There are (less, fewer) than ten brochures left in the cabinet.
6. Do you (infer, imply) from what he says that he dislikes you?
7. My slice of cake is bigger (then, than) yours!
8. His house was (stolen, robbed) last night, but they didn't (steal, rob) his TV.
9. The patient was seeing a psychiatrist because he had a (prosecution, persecution) complex.
10. My mother (taught, learned) me to always say "thank you".
(Answers: affect, may, hanged, bring, fewer, infer, than, robbed, steal, persecution)

Test: Use the correct words from the list to fill in the blanks in the following sentences. All of the words should be used, but each word should only be used one time.

1. All of the teachers ________________ Mr. Nelson received merit increases.
2. He thought that he went ________________ than most of the other teachers in preparing his lessons.
3. " _________ I help it if my students could not learn?" he thought.
4. He wondered if this would _________________ his promotion.
5. He walked several paces _________________ down the hall before he got an idea.
6. Mr. Nelson went to the office and asked, "_____________ I speak to the principal?"
7. The principal said, "I am ready to __________________ your proposal for the new
programme." 8. He added, "This will have a serious ________________ on your career if it doesn't work."
(Answers: except, further, can, affect, farther, may, accept, effect).