Academic English Vocabulary
Commonly Confused Words:
accept - except
affect - effect
complement - compliment
principal - principle
quote - quotation
Advice - advise
Rise - raise
do - make
Most Common Pairs (often confused)
He accepts defeat well.
EXCEPT-to take or leave out
Please take all the books off the shelf except for the red one.
Lack of sleep affects the quality of your work.
EFFECT-n., result, v., to accomplish
The subtle effect of the lighting made the room look ominous.
Can the university effect such a change without disrupting classes?
A LOT (two words)-many.
ALOT (one word)-Not the correct form.
ALLUSION-an indirect reference
The professor made an allusion to Virginia Woolf's work.
ILLUSION-a false perception of reality
They saw a mirage: that is a type of illusion one sees in the desert.
Dinner was all ready when the guests arrived.
ALREADY-by this time
The turkey was already burned when the guests arrived.
Altogether, I thought that the student's presentation was well planned.
ALL TOGETHER-gathered, with everything in one place
We were all together at the family reunion last spring.
APART-to be separated
The chain-link fence kept the angry dogs apart. OR My old car fell apart before we reached California.
A PART-to be joined with
The new course was a part of the new field of study at the university. OR A part of this plan involves getting started at dawn.
The plane's ascent made my ears pop.
The martian assented to undergo experiments.
BREATH-noun, air inhaled or exhaled
You could see his breath in the cold air.
BREATHE-verb, to inhale or exhale
If you don't breathe, then you are dead.
CAPITAL-seat of government. Also financial resources.
The capital of Virginia is Richmond.
The firm had enough capital to build the new plant.
CAPITOL-the actual building in which the legislative body meets
The governor announced his resignation in a speech given at the capitol today.
CITE-to quote or document
I cited ten quotes from the same author in my paper.
The sight of the American flag arouses different emotions in different parts of the world.
SITE-position or place
The new office building was built on the site of a cemetery.
COMPLEMENT-noun, something that completes; verb, to complete
A nice dry white wine complements a seafood entree.
COMPLIMENT-noun, praise; verb, to praise
The professor complimented Betty on her proper use of a comma.
CONSCIENCE-sense of right and wrong
The student's conscience kept him from cheating on the exam.
I was conscious when the burglar entered the house.
COUNCIL-a group that consults or advises
The men and women on the council voted in favor of an outdoor concert in their town.
The parole officer counseled the convict before he was released.
ELICIT-to draw or bring out
The teacher elicited the correct response from the student.
The Columbian drug lord was arrested for his illicit activities.
ITS-of or belonging to it
The baby will scream as soon as its mother walks out of the room.
IT'S-contraction for it is
It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.
LEAD-noun, a type of metal
Is that pipe made of lead?
LED-verb, past tense of the verb "to lead"
She led the campers on an over-night hike.
LOSE--verb, to misplace or not win
Mom glared at Mikey. "If you lose that new lunchbox, don't even think of coming home!"
LOOSE--adjective, to not be tight; verb (rarely used)--to release
The burglar's pants were so loose that he was sure to lose the race with the cop chasing him.
While awaiting trial, he was never set loose from jail because no one would post his bail.
NOVEL-noun, a book that is a work of fiction. Do not use "novel" for nonfiction; use "book" or "work."
Mark Twain wrote his novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when he was already well known, but before he published many other works of fiction and nonfiction.
PASSED-verb, past tense of "to pass," to have moved
The tornado passed through the city quickly, but it caused great damage.
PAST-belonging to a former time or place
Who was the past president of Microsquish Computers?
Go past the fire station and turn right.
PRECEDE-to come before
Prewriting precedes the rough draft of good papers.
PROCEED-to go forward
He proceeded to pass back the failing grades on the exam.
PRINCIPAL-adjective, most important; noun, a person who has authority
The principal ingredient in chocolate chip cookies is chocolate chips.
The principal of the school does the announcements each morning.
PRINCIPLE-a general or fundamental truth
The study was based on the principle of gravity.
QUOTE-verb, to cite
I would like to quote Dickens in my next paper.
QUOTATION-noun, the act of citing
The book of famous quotations inspired us all.
The accident was my fault because I ran into a stationary object.
My mother bought me stationery that was on recycled paper.
SUPPOSED TO-correct form for "to be obligated to" or "presumed to" NOT "suppose to"
SUPPOSE-to guess or make a conjecture
Do you suppose we will get to the airport on time? When is our plane supposed to arrive? We are supposed to check our bags before we board, but I suppose we could do that at the curb and save time.
THAN-use with comparisons
I would rather go out to eat than eat at the dining hall.
THEN-at that time, or next
I studied for my exam for seven hours, and then I went to bed.
THEIR-possessive form of they
Their house is at the end of the block.
THERE-indicates location (hint: think of "here and there")
There goes my chance of winning the lottery!
THEY'RE-contraction for "they are"
They're in Europe for the summer--again!
THROUGH-by means of; finished; into or out of
He plowed right through the other team's defensive line.
THREW-past tense of throw
She threw away his love love letters.
THOROUGH-careful or complete
John thoroughly cleaned his room; there was not even a speck of dust when he finished.
He's really a sweetheart though he looks tough on the outside.
THRU-abbreviated slang for through; not appropriate in standard writing
We're thru for the day!
I went to the University of Richmond.
TOO-also, or excessively
He drank too many screwdrivers and was unable to drive home.
Only two students did not turn in the assignment.
WHO-pronoun, referring to a person or persons
Jane wondered how Jack, who is so smart, could be having difficulties in Calculus.
WHICH-pronoun, replacing a singular or plural thing(s);not used to refer to persons
Which section of history did you get into?
THAT-used to refer to things or a group or class of people
I lost the book that I bought last week.
Money is (incorrect: money are), e.g., Time is money.
Money does not grow on trees.
Money makes money.
Storey - storeys
Story – stories
Hobby – hobbies
Study – studying
Control – controlled
Few - a few
Little – a little
In addition, ………..
An office, an interesting job, a good job, an interesting book, an interpreter, a translator, a good translator, an excellent interpreter.
The indefinite article a should not be written together with the word, e.g.,
A lot, not alot
A nice, not anice.
Incorrect; I have 5 brothers and nine sisters.
Correct: I have five brothers and nine sisters.
Plural – singular
Incorrect: My hobby is reading and playing computer games.
Correct: My hobbies are reading and playing computer games.
Incorrect: I very like languages.
Correct: I like languages very much.
Incorrect: and etc.