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Vocabulary Help: Know How to Distinguish These Words

Here are some words that are commonly misused and confused, with a suggested mnemonic device for remembering how to tell them apart.

Beside vs Besides

"Beside" means next to. "Besides" means except. When someone says, "besides the point," what they actually mean is "beside the point," because the statement has missed the mark.

Accept vs Except

"Accept" means to agree to something. "Except" is a preposition meaning things that were not included. Remember that "except" "ex-es" out things.

Hear vs Here

There is an "ear" in "hear" because it means to listen. "Here" is 80% of "where" to represent a place.

Advice vs Advise

"Advice" is a noun meaning guidance. "Advise" is a verb meaning to suggest or recommend. Remember that the "c" is pronounced like an "s" and the "s" is pronounced as a "z". When you are confused, say the word to determine which you should use.

Ascent vs Assent

"Ascent" come from the verb "ascend" and means to climb. "Assent" means agreement. To tell them apart, remember that when you climb a mountain, you get a "scent" of fresh air.

Biannual vs Biennial

These words do not mean the same thing. "Biannual" means twice per year while "biennial" means every two years.

Adverse vs Averse

"Adverse" is unfavorable while "averse" means seeking to avoid. They are similar in meaning, but not the same. Remember that D is averse to adverse situations.

Lie vs Lay

These words are very commonly misused. "Lie" is for people and animals and has the following tenses- lying, lay, and has/have lain. Thus the confusion, because to "lay" means to put something down. Lay's tenses are laying, laid, and has/have laid. Remember that people can tell lies, so they lie down.

Board vs Bored

A "board" is a noun as in a piece of wood or a deciding body. "Bored" is an adjective that means lacking interest. "Bored" ends in "-ed" to help remind you that it is an adjective and not a noun.

Elicit vs Illicit

"Elicit" means to draw out, as in to elicit a response from someone. "Illicit" means illegal. "Illicit" starts with "ill" to remind you that it is illegal.

For Tutoring in Southgate

Get more help with vocabulary, spelling, reading, and writing at The Tutoring Center in Southgate. Visit us online to learn more about our one-to-one tutoring programs and call 734-785-8430 to schedule a free diagnostic assessment.


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