Accept vs. Except
Accept（动词） – to receive 接受；同意；承认；
例句：I accepted all my birthday gifts with gratitude.
Except (连词) – apart from; otherwise than; were it not true 把…除外；除非；
例句：When Susan travels, she packs everything except the kitchen sink.
Affect vs. Effect
Affect（动词）– to have an effect on; influence; produce a change in; to stir the emotions 影响；感染；感动；
例句：The dog’s death affected his owners.
Effect (名词) – anything brought about by a cause or agent; result 效果；影响；印象；
例句：The new speed limit law had little effect on the speed of the motorists.
All Intensive Purposes vs. All Intents and Purposes
“All intensive purpose” is an incorrect use of the phrase “all intents and purposes.” 错误用法
“All intents and purposes” is a phrase that means “for all practical purposes” or “under most usual situations.” 无论从哪点来看
例句：For all intents and purpose, she planned to buy the refrigerator but still wanted to check the reviews.
A Lot vs. Allot
A lot（名词短语）-many 很多，多量
例句：A lot of people came to the party.
*”A lot” is always two separate words. “Alot” is not a real word.
Allot (动词) – to distribute, give or assign 拨给; 分配，摊派给; 分派，派给;
例句：Fifteen minutes were allotted to each of the speakers at the conference.
Allusion vs. Illusion
Allusion（名词）– an indirect reference 典故; 影射; 暗指，间接提到;
例句：The Austin Powers movies often make allusions to the James Bond films.
Illusion (名词) – a false idea or conception; belief or opinion not in accord with the facts; an unreal, deceptive, or misleading appearance or image 错觉; 幻想; 假象; 错误观念;
例句：The magician created the illusion that he was levitating.
Awhile vs. A While
Awhile (adv) – for a while; for a short time 暂时，片刻;
例句：The guests planned to stay awhile.
A while（名词）- for a short time; when while is used as the object of the preposition (for a while) then the “a” is separated from the “while” 一会儿
例句：The guests planned to stay for a while.
Bad vs. Badly
Bad (adj) – not good 坏的，不好的; 严重的; 不舒服的; 低劣的，有害的;
例句：Your feet smell bad.
Badly (adv) – not well; in a bad manner; harmfully; incorrectly; wickedly; unpleasantly 非常，在很大程度上; 坏，拙劣地; 不利地，有害地;
例句：Charlotte plays tennis very badly.
例句：The people involved in the accident were badly hurt.
*Here, a note. Adjectives generally describe nouns, so even if you use the word “bad” following a verb in a sentence, if it’s meant to describe the thing itself, then use the adjective. “Bad” here means the same as “rotten,” “rancid” or “stinky,” all of which are adjectives. If you can replace “bad” with another adjective and still have a sentence that makes sense, then you know that “bad” was the correct choice. Adverbs often describe the manner in which something is done. To say, “your feet smell badly” is to say that your feet are inhaling through the nose and perceiving odors, and that they’re going about it all wrong.
Borrow vs. Lend
Borrow（动词）– to take or accept something for a short time with the intention of returning it to its rightful owner 借入; 借钱，借用;
例句：May I borrow a pencil, please?
Lend（动词）– to give something for a short time with the intention of getting it back 把…借给; 贷（款）; 贡献，给予; 适于;
例句：Would you please lend me a pencil?
Breath vs. Breathe
Breath （名词） – air taken into the lungs and then let out 呼吸; 一口气; 呼吸力; 微量;
例句：Take a deep breath.
Breathe (动词) – to inhale and exhale 呼吸; 吸气呼气；
例句：Just calm down and breathe.
Cache vs. Cash
Cache（名词）– a safe place to store supplies; anything stored or hidden in such a place 藏物处; 隐藏处;
例句：The hikers found a cache with some cash and jewels.
Cash（名词）– money, coins, bills; currency 现金
例句：ATM machines dispense cash.
Complement vs. Compliment
Complement (名词) – that which completes or brings to perfection; 补充; 补足语; 补充物;
(动词) – to make complete 补足，补充; 补助;
例句：Red wine is a nice complement to a steak dinner.
Compliment（名词）– something said in admiration, praise, or flattery; 恭维; 敬意; 道贺，贺词; 致意;
（动词）– to pay a compliment to; congratulate 称赞; 向…道贺; 向…致意;
例句：She gave me a nice compliment when she said I looked thin.
Comprise vs. Compose
Comprise（动词）– to include; to contain; to consist of; to be composed of 包含，包括; 由…组成; 由…构成;
例句：The state of North Carolina comprises 100 counties.
Compose（动词）– to form in combination; make up; constitute 组成，构成; 创作；构图；
例句：One hundred counties compose the state of North Carolina.
Desert vs. Dessert
Desert（动词）– to forsake or abandon; to leave without permission; to fail when needed 放弃；遗弃；
例句：Soldiers should not desert their posts.
Desert（名词）– dry, barren, sandy region 沙漠; 荒地;
例句：The largest desert in the world is the Sahara.
Dessert（名词）– a sweet course served at the end of a meal 甜点; 餐后甜食;
例句：Fruit makes a healthy dessert after lunch or dinner.
Done vs. Did
Done (adj) – completed; sufficiently cooked; socially acceptable 已完成的;煮熟的; 合乎规矩的;
Done（动词）– the past participle of do do的过去分词
例句：After an hour, the roast was done.
Did (动词) – past tense of do do的过去式
例句：The children did not want to leave the playground.
Elicit vs. Illicit
Elicit (verb) – to draw forth; evoke 引出，探出; 诱出
例句：The teacher elicited answers from the students.
Illicit (adjective) – unlawful; illegal 不正当的; 法律不许可的，非法的;
例句：The teacher discovered illicit drugs in a student’s desk.
Fair to Midland vs. Fair to Middling
Fair to midland – an incorrect use of the phrase “fair to middling” 错误用法
Fair to middling (phrase) – something that is moderate to average in quality 过得去，马马虎虎;
例句：The temperature was fair to middling today.
Had Bought vs. Had Boughten
Had Bought (verb) – the past perfect tense of the verb buy
例句：The teacher had bought Christmas presents for all of students early in the year.
Had Boughten – incorrect usage of the past perfect tense
Hone vs. Home
Hone (verb) – to sharpen; to yearn or long for; to grumble or moan
例句：Practicing the piano daily is a good way to hone your skills.
Home (noun) – dwelling; place where a person lives
例句：After the long drive, we were all ready to be home and asleep.
Imitated vs. Intimated
Imitated (verb) – past tense of the verb imitate, which means to seek to follow the example of; impersonate; mimic
例句：The toddler imitated the dog by crawling on hands and knees and barking.
Intimated (verb) – to make known indirectly; to hint or imply
例句：The pirate intimated that he knew where the treasure was buried.
In a Sense vs. In Essence
In a sense (idiom) – in a way; in one way of looking at it
例句：In a sense, computers have been a boon to society.
In essence (idiom) – by nature; essentially
例句：The cat is, in essence, quiet and timid.
In One Foul Swoop vs. In One Fell Swoop
In one foul swoop – an incorrect use of the phrase “in one fell swoop”
In one fell swoop – a phrase meaning “all at once”
例句：In one fell swoop, the toy was demolished by the child.
Its vs. It’s
Its (possessive pronoun) – of, belonging to, made by, or done by it
例句：The dog will only eat its food when I am also eating.
It’s (contraction) of it + is
例句：It’s a very strange dog.
I Could Of vs. I Could Have
I could of – an incorrect use of the verb phrase could have; when written as a contraction “could’ve” sounds like “could of.”
I could have – is the past perfect tense of the verb could
例句：I could have gone to the play, but I had to study that night
I Should of vs. I Should Have
I should of – an incorrect use of the verb phrase should have; when written as a contraction “should’ve” sounds like “should of.”
I should have – is the past perfect tense of the verb should
例句：I should have gone to the play instead of study because I failed my test anyway.
I Would Of vs. I Would Have
I would of – an incorrect use of the verb phrase would have; when written as a contraction “would’ve” sounds like “would of.”
I would have – is the past perfect tense of the verb would
例句：I would have gone to the play except my car wouldn’t start.
Lead vs. Led
Lead (noun) – a heavy, soft, malleable, bluish-gray metallic chemical element used in batteries and in numerous alloys and compounds
例句：I think it was Mrs. White in the billiard room with the lead pipe.
Led (verb) – past tense and past participle of the verb “to lead”
例句：The two coaches have each led their teams to numerous championships.
Lose vs. Loose
Lose (verb) – to become unable to find; to mislay; to fail to win or gain
例句：Did you lose your glasses again?
例句：How many games did your team lose last season?
Loose (adjective) – not tight; giving enough room
例句：I’ve lost twenty pounds, and now these jeans are really loose.
More/Most Importantly vs. More/Most Important
More/most importantly – a phrase used often in writing to show emphasis; however, many grammarians insist that this is not correct usage. The adverbial ending of -ly is not needed.
More/most important – this phrase should be used instead
例句：The most important part of story is the ending.
Passed vs. Past
Passed (verb) – past tense of the verb “to pass”
例句：I think we passed the store. Let’s turn around and go back.
Past (adjective) – of a former time; bygone; (noun) – the time that has gone by; days, months, or years gone by
例句：In the past, I’ve gotten lost a lot, but this time I know where we are.
Precede vs. Proceed
Precede (verb) – to be, come, or go before in time, place, order, rank, or importance
例句：The election of a new president precedes his inauguration.
Proceed (verb) – to advance or go on, especially after stopping
例句：After your first assignment has been completed and approved, you may proceed to the second one.
Principal vs. Principle
Principal (noun) – a governing or presiding officer, specifically of a school; (adjective) – first in rank, authority, importance, degree, etc.
例句：The student’s parents had to have a meeting with the principal.
Principle (noun) – a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating force, upon which others are based
例句：The student’s parents thought that they had instilled stronger moral principles in their son.
Seen vs. Saw
Seen (verb) – past participle of the verb see; must be used with the verbs has, have, or had
例句：I have seen the movie three times.
*Note: I seen the movie three times is not correct though it is commonly used in spoken language.
Saw (verb) – past tense of the verb see
例句：I saw the movie yesterday.
Sell vs. Sale
Sell (verb) – to give up, deliver or exchange for money
例句：People who move often sell unwanted items instead of packing them.
Sale (noun) – the act of selling; the work, department, etc. of selling
例句：After Christmas sales always bring in the bargain shoppers.
Site vs. Sight
Sight (noun) – something seen, a view, field of vision
例句：She was a sight for sore eyes.
Site (noun) – a piece of land considered for a specific purpose
例句：The corner lot was a perfect site for the new shopping center.
Stationary vs. Stationery
Stationary (adjective) – not moving or not movable; fixed or still
例句：I rode the stationary bike at the gym for an hour.
Stationery (noun) – writing materials; specifically, paper and envelopes used for letters
例句：My grandmother has given me a lot of stationery over the years. I think she wants me to use it to write her.
Taut vs Taunt
Taut (adjective) – tightly stretched; showing strain; tidy or well-disciplined
例句：The taut rope held the luggage to the roof.
Taunt (verb) – to reproach in scornful or sarcastic language; to drive or provoke
例句：The home team taunted the visitors with cheers every time the visiting team made an error.
Than vs. Then
Than (conjunction) – used to introduce the second element in a comparison
例句：My right foot is bigger than my left foot.
Then (adverb) – at that time; next in order; (adjective) – of that time; (noun) – that time
例句：Take off all your clothes first. Then get in the shower.
例句：Emily drove up to New York with her then boyfriend, Nick.
例句：Let’s wait until we’re hungry; we can decide what we want to eat then.
Their vs. There vs. They’re
Their (adjective) – of, belonging to, made by, or done by them
例句：They were proud of their work.
There (noun) – that place or point
例句：Just put it over there.
They’re (contraction) of they + are
例句：They’re going out to dinner tonight.
To vs. Too vs. Two
To (preposition) – in the direction of and reaching; as far as; to the extent of
例句：I’m going to Baltimore.
Too (adverb) – in addition; as well; besides; also; more than enough; superfluously; overly; to a regrettable extent; extremely
例句：I’m going to Baltimore, too.
I’m too busy. I can’t go to Baltimore.
Two (adjective) the number 2
例句：I have two jobs.
Your vs. You’re
Your (adjective) – belonging to you
例句：Is this your dog?
You’re (contraction) – you are
例句：You’re a great mother!
Who vs. Whom
Who (subject pronoun) – what or which person or persons; the person or persons that, or a person that (used to introduce a relative clause)
例句：Who is going to the party with you?
Whom (object pronoun) – what or which person or persons; the person or persons that, or a person that (used to introduce a relative clause)
例句：With whom are you going to the party?