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16 Commonly Misused Words

Could there be words that you have been misusing unknowingly?

In this blog post, we will be sharing with you a list of commonly misused words. Take the quiz below to test your understanding of some of these words or come back to it after you have gone through the various definitions below!


• Fewer vs. Less •

Fewer: A smaller quantity of (something countable)

Less: A smaller amount of (something uncountable)

We use “fewer” when referring to countable nouns and “less” when referring to uncountable nouns.


• Compliment vs. Complement •

Compliment (verb): To give praise (can also act as a noun)

Complement (verb): To make something or someone better or more complete by providing additional qualities or features (can also act as a noun)

Although “compliment” and “complement” are pronounced similarly, do not get them mixed up as they have totally different meanings.


• Who vs. Whom •

Who (pronoun): Used to refer to the subject (person) who is carrying out an action.

Whom (pronoun): Used to refer to the object (person) that action is carried out on.

Find out how to differentiate and use “who” and “whom” correctly from Mrs Monica Leong here:


• Affect vs. Effect •

Affect (verb): To cause a change in something.

Effect (noun): The result produced by an action.

For some, differentiating between these two words can be a bit tricky since they look and sound similar. Just take note that “affect” is a verb while “effect” is a noun!


• Lay vs. Lie •

Lay (verb): To put or place something down.

Lie (verb): To recline or be in a horizontal position (other meaning: to tell a falsehood).

If you “lie” down, you are the one assuming the horizontal position. Another confusing aspect is that the past tense of “lie” is “lay”, so try to keep that in mind.


• Bring vs. Take •

Bring (verb): To move something or someone towards a place.

Take (verb): To move something or someone away from current location to another place.

Just remember, we bring things from “there to here” and we take things from “here to there”.


• Altogether vs. All together •

Altogether (adverb): In total or completely.

All together (phrase): To be gathered in a group.

Some of us may have mistaken “altogether” to be two words and spelled it out as such.


• Than vs. Then •

Than (conjunction): Used to indicate a second element to show comparison.

Then (adverb): [1] At that point in time; [2] Afterwards.

“Than” is used to compare and contrast between different elements or objects (eg. more than, less than), while “then” is used to indicate time or the sequence of events.


Want to learn more of such common grammar mistakes or looking for a solution to help your child improve on their English?

Sign up for a free trial with Superstar Teacher to access full English video lessons by Mrs Monica Leong here!



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