It is a common temptation to use words that we are not always sure of. But this okay as our uncertainty makes us exercise caution while using them. It is the words we think we are sure of that cause trouble. Sometimes they may not mean what we are convinced they mean. Let’s look at some of these commonly confused words-
• Accept/Except – One refers to the act of receiving something and the other signifies exclusion respectively.
• Affect/Effect – While affect stands for influencing, effect means to accomplish. The noun for effect signifies the result of something; the noun for affect is rarely used outside psychology.
• Lie/Lay – Lie and lay both mean – to recline. The point of difference between the two is that you need an object to “lay” it. You can “lie” by yourself. To make it more confusing the past tense of “lie” is “lay”. The past tense for “lay”, however, is “laid”.
• Farther/Further – Farther is a measure of physical distance; further, on the other hand, is a more vague measure of the extent or degree of something.
The English language is replete with words like these that can often confuse us in their usage. It helps to acquaint oneself with the meaning of each word to avoid misusing them.