In Grammar By Lily

Top 10 most confusing pairs of words: we understand the meanings

There are some tricky English words and expressions that manage to confuse not only the students but also the carriers themselves. We have tried to select the most common ones in our opinion and we want to help you deal with them.

Amount vs Number

Did you know that both words can be translated as «number», but in the English language between them there is a fundamental difference. Amount we can use to uncountables, t. E. Uncountable concepts such as money, sugar, snow, etc. Number on the contrary, it is used with countables, those things that can be counted, such as apples, ideas, people.


I spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the exam. — I spent a lot of time preparing for the exam.

I received a good number of phone calls from people who had seen my ad. — I got a lot of calls from people who have seen my ad.

  • Do not forget to brush up on your knowledge of countable and uncountable nouns with our article «Countable and Uncountable Nouns».

Fun vs Funny

In fact, many of my students make mistakes such a plan: I was at the funny party yesterday. And what was so funny at the party: Maybe there was a lot of clowns? Oh no, you were not at the party, funny, and very fun. It is still two big differences, in which case you might say something like: I had so much fun at the party yesterday! We remember:

  • Funny — it is an adjective meaning «funny», «so that makes you laugh,» for example, a joke (joke) can be funny.
  • Fun — can be translated as an adjective, and «cheerful», «exciting»; a synonym of the word exciting. Takzhe fun can be used as a noun — «activity that you like.»

There are many expressions with fun, which is not difficult to guess the value of:

To have fun — «fun», «fun», join the fun — «join the fun class», harmless fun — «harmless fun.»

Doing good vs doing well

How you doin? — Joey famous phrase from the series Friends (Friends), is not the most grammatically correct, it should be noted. As you know, this is another variation of the How are you?, T. E. The question of how a person things. Are you sure that the correct answer to this question? In any case, we recommend to watch the video.

Exactly. Superman does good, you are doing well. To do good means «benefit», «do good,» while to do well — «feel good», «normal.» Do not be confused, otherwise someone can advise you and pull up the grammar.

Adopt / Adapt / Adept

Despite the similarities, it’s completely different words. To adopt and to adapt — verbs adept — an adjective (or noun). Next — even more interesting.

  1. To adapt [ə’dæpt] — to gradually change your behaviour and attitudes in order to be successful in a new situation or to change something to make it suitable for a different purpose. This word is similar to the Russian equivalent and is translated as «to adapt (to be)», «fit (to be)»:

    When I was 10, we moved to another city and I found it quite difficult to adapt to a new school. — When I was 10, we moved to another city, and it was hard to get used to a new school.

    I decided to adapt this recipe a little as I know that you hate avocado. — I decided to slightly modify the recipe, because I know that you hate avocados.

  2. To adopt [ə’dɔpt] — to start dealing with something. Translation — «apply». The second meaning: to become a legal parent of someone else’s child. Translation — «adopt», «adopt».

    A new law on higher education was adopted yesterday. — The new law on higher education was passed yesterday.

    Mark has known that he is an adopted child since young age. — Mark knew from childhood that he was adopted.

  3. Adept [ə’dept] — good at something that needs care and skill. Translation — «knowledgeable,» «experienced», «competent».

    I am afraid most politicians are adept liars. — I am afraid that the majority of politicians — skilled liars.

    That fish is adept at hiding on the seabed. — That fish is good at hiding at the bottom of the sea.

Prospective vs Perspective

These words also apply to the different parts of speech prospective — adjective, perspective — a noun.

Prospective — possible or likely to happen. Translation — «future», «expects», «anticipates».

As a prospective doctor he should do a lot of studying. — As a future doctor, he has a lot to learn.

Perspective — view on something or method of drawing. It should be translated as «point of view», «outlook» or «perspective». It should be noted that the «promising» in the sense of «promising», it is usually promising or having good prospects.

Working abroad gives you a whole new perspective. — Working abroad gives you a whole new outlook on life.

He is a very promising young man. — He is a promising young man.

Assure / Ensure / Insure

These three verbs are similar in pronunciation, but have different meanings. Let us first we practice ear and see how the difference between the three verbs explains the native speaker.

  1. To assure [ə’ʃuə] — to tell someone that something will definitely happen or is definitely true so that they are less worried. This means that we can assure translated as «assure», «to assure someone,» «to convince.» Please note, we can assure that use or assure somebody of something.

    I assure you that you’ll succeed if you try hard enough. — I assure you, you will do it, if you work hard.

    The shop-assistant assured me of the quality of this product. — The seller has convinced me as a product.

  2. To ensure [ɪn’ʃuə] — to make certain that something will happen properly (also make sure). A suitable translation: «ensure», «guarantee».

    Wearing a helmet while cycling ensures your safety. — Helmet while cycling ensures your safety.

    It was your responsibility to ensure that everyone at the ceremony has a seat. — That’s what you had to make sure that the ceremony everyone had a place.

  3. To insure [ɪn’ʃuə] — to buy insurance so that you will receive money if something bad happens to you, your family, your possessions etc. It should be translated as «cover», «insure.» Using the suffix noun can form insurance (insurance), which indicates the appropriate action.

    This would not have happened if you had insured your car. — This would not have happened if you had insured the car.

    They insured their house for $ 100,000 — they are insured for the amount of your home in the $ 100,000

Ultimate vs Penultimate

Ultimate — something that happens at the end or something that is of greatest importance. Translation — «the last», «limit», «core», the «main».

They claimed that their ultimate goal was peace in the whole world. — They said that their main goal was world peace.

Penultimate — not the last but immediately before the last, the last but one. Translation — «penultimate».

I’ve almost finished this book. I am reading the penultimate chapter. — I’m almost finished reading the book. I’m currently in the penultimate chapter.

On time vs In time

In this case, do not care about what excuse to use. You also need to be careful, because the Russian language both words can be translated as «on time», however, should take into account some of the nuances.

On time — at the correct time or the time that was arranged. Translation — «time», «at exactly the appointed time.»

Professor Smith is a great teacher but his lectures never start on time. — Professor Smith — a great teacher, but his lecture never start on time.

In time — with enough time to spare; before the last moment. Translation — «on time» in the meaning «advance» or «in a timely manner, even a little bit in advance.»

Some of my friends are visiting tonight so I need to come in time to cook dinner. — Some of my friends come to visit me, so I have to come early to prepare dinner.

Heroin vs Heroine

Heroin — a powerful illegal drug, t. E. «Heroin».

Requiem for a dream is a film about heroin addicts. — «Requiem for a Dream» — a film about drug addiction.

Heroine — a woman who is admired for doing something extremely brave, t. E. «Heroine». Also, the heroine of the book, the movie and so on. D.

I always admired Jane Austen’s heroines. — I’ve always admired heroines of Jane Austen’s books.

Careless vs carefree

Words looks very similar, but they have completely different meanings.

Careless — not paying enough attention to what you are doing, so that you make mistakes, damage things / opposite to careful. Translation — «sloppy,» «inattentive»

Tim is so careless with his keys — he is always losing them! — Tim so inconsiderate with your keys! He has been losing them.

Carefree — having no worries or problems. Translation — «carefree», «no burdened.» Not always has a positive response, sometimes a word can be called carefree man, who does not assume any obligations and concerns.

What I really like about holidays is being carefree. — What I really like about the holiday is the lack of worries.

Lie vs lay

The verb lie has two meanings:

  1. To lie (lie — lay — lain present participle lying, third person singular lies) — to be in a position in which your body is flat on the floor, on a bed etc, t. E. «Lie.»

    He was lying on the sofa dreaming about his holiday. — He was lying on the couch, dreaming of a vacation.

  2. To lie (lie — lied — lied, present participle lying, third person singular lies) — to deliberately tell someone something that is not true, t. E. «Lie.»

    Do not lie to me! I know when you are lying! — Do not lie to me! I know when you’re lying!

In addition, there is the word lay.

To lay (lay — laid — laid present participle laying third person singular lays) — to put someone or something down carefully into a flat position (to put), or to put the cloth, plates, knives, forks etc on a table, ready for a meal (set the table).

Nancy was cooking dinner, while Sam was laying the table. — Nancy cooked dinner while Sam was laying on the table.

He laid his hand on my shoulder and told me not to worry. — He put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to worry.

That ended our little hits «problem» of words in the English language. To be sure that all of you will remember, we offer to perform the test.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>