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Top English Commonly Misused Words and Double Meaning Phrases


We all had it, the moment when we were about to be swallowed by the earth because of some embarrassing misspellings or misusages and as a result, total misunderstanding of the whole sentence or even the whole text. Why does it happen? Well, mostly because you could not learn the basic rules of writing a word but also because of its amazing similarity with totally opposite meaning.

Moreover, hereby we will touch upon the latest misunderstandings between British and American English expressions to make you get the clue of what should be said and what better be kept in yourself. What other variants would you add to this list? Think of it!

The List of Commonly Confused Words in English Language


Do not worry if you have been misspelling or using some words incorrectly for your whole life. We are all human beings and we can and should learn continuatively. The incorrect words that are used intentionally for creation of some jokes, buns, tongue twisters and so on are also basically “misused words” but they serve the goal of people’s entertainment and should not be corrected.

Besides, language is a living mean of communication. Who knows, maybe you are about to create a totally new word for the humanity?

  • Affect or Effect. Affect is used as a verb while effect is a noun. E.g. “You cannot affect my decision” and “the effect of her reading was obvious”;
  • Disinterested or Uninterested. Disinterested is in other words “neutral” or “objective”, which does not belong to any of the sides offered. Uninterested is simply bored or having lost interest to something;
  • 50 shades of Grey/Gray? Everything is simple: Gray is a standardized American spelling while Grey is being used in British English;
  • Lay of Lie? Both expressing a horizontal position but “lay” is used when defining and action of putting something (for example, yourself) and only afterwards you will “lie” there;
  • Lose or Loose? When loose is considered to be an adjective (as a rule), lose is always a verb. Piece of cake;
  • Who’s or Whose? Who’s is basically just a contraction from “who is” while whose refers to belonging someone and is defined as a possessive pronoun. E.g. “Who’s there?” and “Whose pants are lying there?”;
  • Nauseous. If you have got this word as “feeling sick”, it is high time you relearned it correctly as the primary meaning is “to cause nausea”;
  • Conversate. What??? Really, if you keep using this word in the meaning of “having a conversation” then you have not listened to your English teacher attentively. The correct word for the same meaning will be to “converse” which is “to engage in a conversation” and, what is the most important, it exists in the English language;
  • Qualitative or quantitative. The secret is hidden in the “roots”, qualitative refers to the quality matter, and quantitative is what can be estimated by quantity or metrical system;
  • Correction or correctness. Both words can be used when talking about mistakes but the first one means “a process of emendation” while “correctness” refers to “the state of being right or correct”.

What British Say and What Americans Think

Logical Thinking

In case you are on the edge between two different cultures, here is a small hint on how to understand the British person and encode their implicit (or maybe not so) intentions. First and the main thing to know – British people are extremely polite. When they happen to say “I am disappointed”, it actually means “I am extremely annoyed of it”. They will never show their discontent straightly but definitely let you feel it somehow. So, learn some expressions to be armed with in case of emergency!

The following content is not aimed to hurt anybody’s feelings but to entertain the reader (with real facts).

  • It is very interesting... It is our favorite phrase, which is commonly used not only by British but also Germans with their “Interessant…” and means “I’m bored of you”. To convey the message, it is not that difficult as it is usually followed by an appropriate intonation;
  • I hear what you are saying… If you have a thought that your companion agrees with you on a certain argument, think it again. Because in the words of a British person it means “the discussion is over, I’m tired of proving you I am right”
  • I almost agree with you… While you think, you have won this word battle, the British will smile and be like “you are so wrong, my dear stupid friend”;
  • Sorry… While Americans clearly differentiate “excuse me” and “sorry”, British people just use both of them to be polite, no apologizes are present here;
  • Wow, that’s a really brave proposal… When you think “the person is really courage to say so” others will be like “What the hell are you talking about, are you nuts?”;
  • I am sure it is only my fault… it is nicely put from “Yes, I admit it, I shouldn’t have done…” into “It’s only your fault.”;
  • I would like to invite you for dinner… In other countries, it would sound like a very nice and friendly invitation but when dealing with the British, you most probably should think of it as “Don’t you even dare to come over to my house”. Even if you happen to be invited for real (yay!), you should know how to overcome another challenge called “a British dog” which is in reality just a pet but if it doesn’t like you, you are about to be very undesirable in the house as British believe the animals can tell whether a person is good or bad better than people;
  • You’ve caught the sun… When the British is in a good mood, they might turn into another language, known only to them. So, the meaning of this magnificent phrase is “you’re sunburned”.

What other interesting phrases and word expressions do you know, that we may understand totally different that they are for real? Share your opinions with friends and have fun discovering more of this topic!

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