10 pairs of words people confuse all the time

1. Affect and effect

Affect is (usually) a verb or doing word, while effect is (again, usually) is a noun or thing word. In this video, I show you how to remember which one is which - using the acronym DATE.

2. Disinterested and uninterested

Many people think these two words mean ‘not interested’, but careful (pedantic?) readers will frown on you if you use them interchangeably. So save disinterested for when you want to say someone is impartial or unbiased. Check out the video for tips on how to quickly remember the difference.

3. Dependent and dependant

This pair is easy to confuse. But while dependent is an adjective (or describing word) meaning ‘reliant on’, dependant is a noun or thing word referring to someone who depends on another - a child or an elderly relative, say. Check out this video for tips on how to remember the difference.

4. Discreet and discrete

Discreet means something like ‘careful or tactful’, while discrete means ‘separate from’. To be confident of choosing the right one every time, check out this video.

5. Stationery and stationary

Stationery refers to the bits and bobs you’d find in the office supplies cupboard, while stationary means ‘still or motionless’. Here’s how to pick the right word next time you’re ordering some paper and pens.

6. Peek, peak and pique

These three words are all pronounced the same, but they each have very different meanings. A peek is a quick look at something, a peak might refer to a mountain and pique describes a fit of anger or irritation. For tips on how to remember the difference, take a sneaky peek at this video.

7. Lose and loose

Writing loose instead of lose is one of the most common spelling mistakes I see. But they’re very different words: loose is an adjective or describing word used of something that doesn’t fit tightly, while lose is a verb meaning ‘to be deprived of or forget something’. Here’s how to spell lose correctly every time.

8. Anticipate and expect

Careful writers will save the word anticipate for occasions when they want to express the idea that something is not merely expected, but has been actively prepared for. Check out this video to discover how understanding the etymology of the word anticipate can help you use it correctly.

9. Pore and pour

Donald Trump was ridiculed for confusing these two words. Here’s how to avoid the same fate.

10. Rain, rein and reign

Rain, the wet stuff that falls from the sky is easy to remember. The difficulty comes with rein and reign - which seem to be more often confused than not. Perhaps it’s because both have connotations of power and control - as a boss, you may take the reins, while as a queen or king you may reign over your people. This video gives you a handy mnemonic for remembering which is which.

Which words do you often confuse? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll make a video about them!