Vocabulary

English Vocabulary – Five Pairs of Commonly Confused English Words

Commonly Confused English Words

1. Beside vs Besides

Beside (preposition): next to or at the side of someone or something 

The girl standing beside Tom is Mary. 

Besides (preposition): in addition to/apart from someone or something

Besides working as a teacher, she also writes freelance for a fashion magazine.

 

2. Principle vs Principal

Principle (noun; usually plural): a moral rule or a strong belief that influences your actions

Lucy will not lie as she has high moral principles. 

Principle (noun): a law, a rule or a theory that something is based on

The syllabus covers basic principles of accounting. 

Principal (adjective): most important; main

Tourist revenue is the country’s principal source of wealth.

Principal (noun): the person who is in charge of a school

John is the principal of Hillview High School. 

 

3. Compliment vs Complement

Compliment (noun): a remark that expresses praise or admiration of someone 

It is a great compliment to be asked to be the guest-of-honour. 

Compliments (noun; plural): polite words or good wishes, especially when used to express praise and admiration

Please give my compliments to the wonderful chef.

Compliment (verb): to tell someone that you like or admire something he/she has done, etc.

He complimented Betsy on her new hairstyle.

Complement (verb): to add to something in a way that improves it or makes it more attractive

The excellent menu is complemented by a good wine list.

 

4. Access vs Assess

Access (noun): a way of entering or reaching a place

The burglars gained access through a broken window.

Access (verb): reach, enter or use something

This room can only be accessed by authorised personnel.

Assess (verb): to make a judgement about the nature or quality of someone/something

The government will assess how well the new system works.

 

5. Emigrate vs Immigrate 

Emigrate (verb): to leave your own country to go and live permanently in another country

The family left India in 1975 and emigrated to the United States.

Immigrate (verb): to come and live permanently in a country after leaving your own country

About 6.6 million people immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Vocabulary – Top 5 Bizarre Terms by Students

1  Oftenly (instead of ‘often’)

  • Student’s sentence: People who smoke oftenly are more prone to lung cancer.
  • Get it right: People who smoke often are more prone to lung cancer. (‘Often’ and ‘frequently’ are synonyms, BUT unlike ‘frequently’, ‘often’ DOES NOT end with ‘ly’.)

2  Oning (instead of ‘switching on’ or ‘turning on’)

  • Student’s sentence: I was oning the TV when the phone rang. 
  • Get it right: I was switching on the TV when the phone rang. (‘On’ is NOT a verb! Use phrasal verbs like ‘switch on’ or ‘turn on’.)

3  Betterer (instead of ‘better’)

  • Student’s sentence: She is betterer at science than her sister.
  • Get it right: She is better at science than her sister. (There’s no such word as ‘betterer’. The correct comparative adjective is ‘better’.)

4  More worse (instead of ‘worse’)

  • Student’s sentence: My results are more worse this time.
  • Get it right: My results are worse this time. (‘Worse’ is a comparative adjective, so there’s NO NEED for ‘more’.)

5  Agreeded (instead of ‘agreed’)

  • Student’s sentence: Everyone agreeded that it was a good plan.
  • Get it right: Everyone agreed that it was a good plan. (‘Agreed’ is the past tense of ‘agree’. There’s no such word as ‘agreeded’.)

🤣  🤣  🤣  🤣  🤣

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Vocabulary – Breakfast Talk

The subject of breakfast came up in class recently when the students were discussing the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.

Student A: Not everyone can adapt to the new environment. Everything is different from the weather to the food.

Student B: Ya lor, I don’t like to eat ‘ang-moh’ food, especially ‘ang-moh’ breakfast, so if I go ‘ang-moh’ country, sure die. 😝

Tutor Adeline: Interesting. Student B, what do you mean by ‘ang-moh’ breakfast?  (asking the obvious)

Student B: The bacon, ham and all that lah.

Tutor Adeline: And you don’t like them.

Student B: Yah, cos’ they are very unhealthy.

Tutor Adeline: I have to agree with you that a typical Western-style breakfast is a heart attack on a plate. *laughter* 🤣   Since we are on the subject of breakfast, does anyone know the difference between a continental breakfast and an English breakfast?

The entire class: *blank look* 😕

Tutor Adeline: Okay, here’s the difference:

Continental Breakfast

a light breakfast, usually consisting of tea or coffee, bread rolls, croissants and pastries

English Breakfast

a large or full breakfast, usually consisting of tea or coffee, bacon, ham, sausages, eggs and a variety of other cooked foods

Student B: What about American breakfast?

Tutor Adeline: Good question!

American Breakfast

a variant of English breakfast, often consisting of the same stuff; hash browns, pancakes and waffles are common in American breakfast

Student B: That’s why it is a heart attack on a plate! *laughter* 🤣

Tutor Adeline: Everything in moderation. It’s okay to indulge once in a while. I do love bacon and pancakes, so don’t curse me. Final question. What’s a power breakfast?

Student C: After eating will become very powerful? *seriously loud laughter* 🤣  🤣

Tutor Adeline: Very funny, Student C! 😏

Power Breakfast

a meeting that business people have early in the morning while they eat breakfast

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)