By Wil

A lot of English words are easy to confuse. Some sound the similar but are spelled differently. Some sound different but are spelled the same. Some use punctuation in the middle but still sound similar to another word.

These words rarely cause problems when people are speaking but in writing, getting the wrong spelling can give a sentence a completely different meaning and will make the text look badly written.

So, what are these confusing words? In the text below, there are nine pairs of similar-sounding words. For each pair, choose the correct word and check your answers and the pronunciation (British) below.

Last week I lost my car keys. I always loose/lose things. In the past/passed I have lost keys, phones, jewellery and even my dog. I found my dog eventually, although by then he was to/too tired to walk and I had to carry him home. When your/you’re like me and you keep losing things, it’s/its often the reason that you are late for something. I don’t know the cause of this clumsiness. I like to think that my brain is very full and that other people have fewer thoughts in their/there head than I do. If I didn’t have so much to think about, I wouldn’t be so careless with my possessions. I hear/here that this is a problem for many people, not just me. So the next time you make an arrangement with someone who’s/whose often late, don’t try to give them advise/advice, just understand that maybe they are very intelligent.

[Answers (correct answers in bold):

lose /luːz/ (loose /luːs/ = not tight)

past /pɑːst/ (passed /pɑːst/ = past tense of to pass/go by/not fail a test or exam)

too /tuː/ (to /tuː/ = part of the infinitive verb/preposition)

you’re /jɔː,jʊə/ (your /jɔː,jʊə/= it belongs to you)

it’s /ɪts/ (its /ɪts/= it belongs to something gender neutral)

their /ðɛː/ (there /ðɛː/ = in that position/place)

hear /hɪə/ (here /hɪə/ = in this position/place)

who’s /huːz/ (whose /huːz/ = possessive question)

advice /ədˈvaɪs/ (advise /ədˈvaɪz/ = verb of the noun advice)]

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