Your or you're? Proceed or precede? Stationary or stationery?
The English language contains many words which can confuse learners and native speakers alike. It's common for a word to have several meanings or to be pronounced and spelled the same as others, that's why it's easy to make mistakes.
This is the second instalment of the Commonly Confused English Words series which explains the difference between pairs of often confused words in English.
The word 'farther' relates to physical distance, which is why it contains the word far. We use the word 'further' when talking about anything other than physical distance.
Not only are these words spelled in a similar way, they can sound identical in conversation due to the speed that many people speak.
Both verbs relate to the order in which events occur. When an event comes before another, the first event 'precedes' the second. We use the word 'proceed' to describe the process of moving forward.
3. Stationery / Stationary
With only one letter to differentiate these two words, it's easy to forget which is which.
'Stationery' is a noun relating to supplies you might find in an office. 'Stationary' is an adjective to describe something which is still or motionless.
Here's a handy mnemonic for you; 'stationery' contains an e, as does 'envelope'. 'Stationary' contains an a, as does 'statue'.
While these two adverbs are identical in pronunciation, that's where the similarity ends.
'Formally' is used to describe official or professional etiquette. On the other hand, 'formerly' modifies a past action.
The Chancellor was formally invited to the gala.
Myanmar, formerly Burma, was renamed in 1989.
This is one of the most common mistakes made by native English speakers.
'Your' is used to show ownership or possession. 'You're' is a contraction of the words 'you' + 'are'.
Mick Jagger sang backing vocals on Carly Simon's hit song "You're So Vain".
"Take care of all your memories, for you cannot relive them." Bob Dylan
Exercise: Now it's your turn. Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with words from this blog post.
Always dress __ for job interviews.
Please ask __ father to come in when __ ready.
Adjectives often __ the nouns they modify.
The car was __ at a red light when the cyclist collided with it.
Please send me your answers in a private message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
These are just a few of the words which can confuse English learners. Can you think of any more? If you enjoyed this page, take a look at the rest of the Commonly Confused English Words series.
Book a trial lesson today and talk about your learning goals with an experienced native English teacher. Say goodbye to boring English lessons; discuss incredible TED Talks, study market-leading textbooks, learn all about Britain, prepare for globally recognised exams, explore your favourite English books or improve your conversational English by talking about any topic that you find interesting. If you're not sure what you want to learn, let me choose from the huge range of English courses that have been tailored to help my students to achieve their goals.