Three hundred seventy-five million people speak English as their first language, and this makes English the third most spoken language in the world. Other than that, it is the most taught second language, too; that is why it is considered a universal language.
This language has a vast literature and sounds so beautiful, but it is way too challenging to learn. Even after being the Universal language, a lot of native speakers speak multiple words incorrectly in their daily lives.
English first originated as a combination of multiple regional dialects, and it was brought to England by the Anglo-Saxons. Vikings invasions of the 9th century led to the mixture of English with old Norse. Later on, Norman’s conquest of the 11th century brought the influence of French on English.
With Latin being the official language of churches for all those years, its effect can be seen in English. With such a complicated beginning, it’s no surprise that the writing is filled with its share of oddities.
English is filled with homophones, homographs, homonyms, Word Unscrambler and inconsistent spellings. It’s a bag full of odd and curious inconsistencies. Let’s have a look at some of these pairs of the ever confusing English language.
1. There And Their
These are homophones that mean they sound similar but have different spellings and meanings.
While ‘their’ is a possessive pronoun which means to own something, ‘there’ can be used as an adverb to tell about the position of something.
- See, there is a dove in the sky.
- Their dresses look ravishing.
- Their house is by the huge cherry tree, and there is a brook too.
2. Disinterested And Uninterested
This pair even confuses the native speakers. They do have different spellings and different pronunciation, but people think they mean the same thing that is bored or not interested. But they happen to be wrong as both of them have entirely different meanings.
While ‘uninterested’ means bored, ‘distintered’ means impartial.
- While deciding the culprit, the judge should be disinterested.
- Everyone seems uninterested in her speech.
- The teacher was disinterred while announcing the winner, but everyone was indifferent to the results.
3. Bear And Bare
This again is a new pair of homophones.
‘Bear’ as a verb means to carry something substantial or be patient about something. Bear also refers to the big hairy animals that reside in the forests.
However ‘bare’ means naked or as a verb, it means to uncover or reveal something.
- Don’t touch a hot pot with bare hands.
- My eyes could not bear the pain of my child anymore.
- I couldn’t take this snow with my bare feet.
4. Further And Farther
Now, this is a fantastic pair of confusing words. They are spelt and spoken slightly differently, but they both have the same meaning. However, even after having the same purpose, they are used in distinct scenarios.
‘Farther’ is used when we are talking about physical distance. On the other hand, ‘further’ is used when we are talking about ideal situations and not tangible things.
- The neighbours provided no further information about the murdered family.
- I could go no farther with this flat tyre.
- The farther we ran, the new I got tired.
5. Minute And Minute
Now reread the pair, they spell the same but are spoken differently and also have different meanings. These are known as homographs.
While minute (MIN-it) is sixty seconds, minute (my-NOOT) means too little.
- We waited for thirty minutes for the train.
- A minute error can result in a failed experiment.
- Even a difference as minute as one minute can make you lose the race.
6. Affect And Effect
Now, this an ever-confusing pair of words which even leave the so-called grammar nazis wondering. They have only a slight difference in pronunciation and spelling.
‘Effect’ is a noun which is used to tell about the consequences or results of action. ‘Affect’, on the other hand, is a verb which means to influence something.
- A suspension will affect his chances of admission into an Ivy.
- A recent study examined the effect of coronavirus on the mental health of people.
- The surgery hurt his health, but the impact of medicine was surprisingly fast.
Some Honorary Mention In The List Include:
- two/to/too: I will give two of these chips to each of you, also.
- Loose/lose: I don’t want my team to lose the game because of my loose pyjamas.
- Compliment/complement: I complimented my sister on how her fashion sense as her tie complements her skirt well.
- Advice/advise: When the Parson denied providing any information, my sister advised me to go to the church of Baltimore.
There is no shortage of inconsistencies and oddities in the English Language but knowing the differences makes it easier to avoid mistakes. So remember the next time you mix up words, double-check the situation and the spelling.