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What Are The Most Common Mistakes And Confusing Words In English?

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    The Beauty and The Prince

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There are some common mistakes in English that most people fail to stay away from , including us ... But since this is an English speaking site I thought we should help each other staying away from those common mistakes and clarifying the confusing words ;)

So we will be posting the most common mistakes we see others at school , Uni or forums doing to help improve all of our English Insha'Allah ^_^

To make sure that everyone will have the chance to add a common mistake , please limit one mistake per post ..doesn't mean you can't post more but one at a time :D

I'll go First Insha'Allah :

Lose - Loose

Many people write 'loose' when they really mean 'lose' .This confusion can easily be avoided if you pronounce the word intended aloud. If it has a voiced Z sound, then it's "lose." If it has a hissy S sound, then it's "loose." Here are examples of correct usage :

"He tends to lose his keys." ''I don't want my Favourite Team to lose''

"She lets her dog run loose."

Note that when "lose" turns into "losing" it loses its "E."

The word loose means not restrained or not confined or not attached it can also mean Not strict in matters of morality

While lose is the opposite of winning.
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:jazaak: What a great subject.

These types of words are called homophones (where words sound the same but are spelt differently) and can confuse even English speaking people.

The hardest ones which lots of people find confusing are their, there and they're.


Someone left their book on the table. Did everyone bring their lunch? This their denotes belonging.

their rights as citizens; their departure for Algeria. A form of the possessive case of they used as an attributive adjective, before a noun


1. in or at that place (opposed to here): She is there now.
2. at that point in an action, speech, etc.: He stopped there for applause.
3. in that matter, particular, or respect: His anger was justified there.
4. into or to that place; We went there last year.
5. (used by way of calling attention to something or someone): There they go.
6. (used to introduce a sentence or clause in which the verb comes before its subject or has no complement): There is no hope.
7. that place: He comes from there, too.


contraction of they are.

They're going to be late for the flight

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  • Darja Gurus
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Actually another way to differentiate between loose and lose is the Phonetic transcription of the (oo) sound which is this /u/; so Lose takes a short /u/ while Loose takes a long /u:/.
We take longer time in producing the second one.

Thank you Writersfreedom for this good topic, very useful indeed

mine is: Principle and Principal

While the first one refers to a term desining a concept, a law, a doctrine or an assumption;

Principal is an adjective, it means the most prominent, the main, the highest in rank or the person in chief.

Many students make this error and some teachers tell them to use the following example to differentiate between the two words:

"Principal is my Pal"

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    The Beauty and The Prince

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Thanks girls , sorry for my late reply ^_^

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another common mistake is confusing your & you're

your - ownership
you're - shortened version of 'you are'

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    Honorary Algerian

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Something that irritates me is the mix up of too and to. Although sometimes writing in a hurry I've written the wrong one by mistake. I am going to pray. I am going to the market. You pray too much. The market is too far. I want to go to the market too.

So too can be like more than usual or also.
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Abu Daoud

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My students always struggle with when to use the infinitive like "to play" or the gerund "playing". It's very confusing with some verbs because only one can be used and with other verbs it works both ways. Then again with some verbs it works both ways but with two different meanings. I have a short handout I give them. I don't know if I should try to post the whole thing here.





What's the rule? To Do - Some verbs are always followed by the infinitive (to) form of the second verb. Examples

My boss decided to leave early.

She expected to receive a salary increase.

They are hoping to arrive on time.

We should arrange to meet at 9.00 am.

These verbs are followed by the infinitive:

afford  I can't afford to buy that new car I want.

decide  Are you going to decide or just continue to think about it? (this has 2 - to decide and to think) 

learn   He learned to drive at a young age.


agree  I agree to the contract but I still haven't signed it yet.

expect   I expect to see you at the study group this weekend.

manage    Can you manage to help me with washing these dishes?

appear   He appeared to be confident, but I knew that inside he was very scared.

fail   I fail to see the importance of his input.

plan   I plan to have my Bachelor's degree by next year.


arrange   I will arrange to meet you at the airport when your plane arrives.

hope   I hope to see you soon.

refuse    He refused to worry about the weather.


attempt   I made an attempt to talk to him about the problem.

intend    I intend to make the morning shift.

seem   He seemed to like my cooking.


To Doing

Certain verbs and adjectives are always followed by "to" and the "ing" (gerund) form of the second verb.



My boss is used to working long hours.

We are accustomed to eating a more formal meal on Sundays.

She is looking forward to meeting her relatives from Colombia.

Do not confuse USED TO and TO BE USED TO + DOING!

used to work for Saudi Aramco.

(I worked for that company but don't work for it now.)

am used to working hard

(I work hard and have done so for a long time. It is now routine.)

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    The Beauty and The Prince

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A big thank you to everyone who is posting useful tips in this topic!


~~~ Peace out ~~~