among / between

It is often taught that “between” is used for 2 items and “among” for 3 or more – but this is not completely accurate. The more accurate difference is this: Between is used when naming distinct, individual items (can be 2, 3, or more) Among is used when the items are part of a group,…

critic / critical / criticism / critique

Let’s start with the difference between criticism and a critique. Criticism is negative comments – identifying faults or bad points. A critique is simply an evaluation – it can comment on the good points and/or the bad points. My project idea received a lot of criticism from my colleagues – they said it would never…

will / would

Use will: 1. to talk about the future Ex) The bus will leave at 8:30. Ex) Elections are next month. I think the president will be re-elected. 2. to make promises and offers – when in statement form (not in question form): Ex) Sorry I was late to class today. I’ll be on time tomorrow….

made of / made from

Use made of to talk about the material of an object – wood, plastic, glass, crystal, etc. which has not gone through very much processing. You can still see the original material: – This table is made of wood. – The window is made of glass. – This shirt is made of cotton. Use made…

in / into / inside / within

In and inside are the same in many cases. You can say: We are in the house. The clothes are in the closet. or The clothes are inside the closet. The word inside implies that the thing is physically enclosed – it is in a container (a box, a vehicle, a building with walls, etc.)…

historic / historical

The word historical describes anything related to the past, to history: We need to consider the current conflict from a historical perspective. The city center contains many cultural and historical monuments. I love reading historical fiction. Historical things can be important or unimportant. The word historic describes things that were very important or influential in…

close / shut

You can use both close and shut with doors and windows: Please close/shut the door. I closed/shut the window because it was getting cold. (the past tense of “shut” is also “shut”) With eyes and mouths, “close” is probably a little more common than “shut” (especially with mouth): He closed his eyes and tried to…

marriage / married / wedding

The wedding is the official ceremony/party. (The party is usually called the “reception”): I’m going to my cousin’s wedding on October 7. We want to have a band at our wedding reception. The wedding will be at the church, and the reception will be at a restaurant. The marriage is the relationship in general, or…

house / home

A house is a specific type of building. It is different from an apartment. A house is a physical thing – we can talk about a big house, a small house, a blue house, etc. You can also talk about doing work on your house – painting your house, remodeling your house, building a house,…

cloth / clothes / clothing

Clothes and clothing refer to the things you wear – shirts, pants, underwear, dresses, suits, etc. Cloth is the material, the fabric. Cotton, wool, silk, etc. are different types of cloth. There is also a pronunciation difference: The o in clothes/clothing sounds like the o in “no.” The o in cloth sounds like the aw…

remember / remind / reminder

Remember (v.) is when you think of a memory (a past experience): I remember the first time I ever swam in the ocean, when I was 5 years old. Do you remember that great presentation on marketing that we saw at the conference? I don’t think he remembers that we met 30 years ago. Remember…

worth … -ing

We can use worth . . . -ing in two structures. [it is (not) worth … -ing (+ object)] It isn’t worth repairing the car. Is it worth visiting Leicester? It’s not worth getting angry with her. [subject + is (not) worth … -ing] The car isn’t worth repairing. Is Leicester worth visiting? She’s not…

hundred / hundreds

Use hundred when there is a specific number, and use hundreds when you don’t know or can’t count how many. This rule also applies to thousand/thousands and million/millions. This skeleton is thousands of years old. This skeleton is three thousand years old. When saying numbers, always use the singular form: 250 = Two hundred and…

effective / efficient

If something is effective, it means it achieves the desired effect/result: This vaccine is quite effective against the disease. or ( the vaccine has the desired result of preventing the disease) The new law was ineffective in reducing crime. or ( the law did not achieve the desired result of reducing crime) As you can…

so / very / a lot

Use a lot of before nouns to mean a large quantity or a high number. “A lot of’ can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. There were a lot of students in the classroom. I drank a lot of water during the marathon. Use verb + a lot to mean “very much” or…

another / other / others

The word other is an adjective. It refers to something different. The teacher held a textbook in one hand and a pencil in the other hand. The word “other” is often used with “the.” It can be used with singular or plural nouns: We crossed to the other side of the street. I liked the…

income / salary / wage

The money you receive for doing your job is your salary. A salary is usually the same amount every month; it doesn’t change based on the exact number of hours you work. A wage is when you receive money based on the number of hours you work: If you work 1 hour, you get a…

become / get / turn

Words like turn, become, get, and go can describe changes and transformations -but they’re each used in different expressions. Use turn for colors: Bananas turn black if you put them in the refrigerator. The sky turned pink and orange during the sunset. My uncle’s hair is turning white. Use turn into when talking about a…

do / make

DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually implies that there is a result. For example, if you “make breakfast,” the result is an omelet! If you “make a suggestion,” you have created a recommendation. Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks: do the laundry do homework do the shopping do business…

poor / pore / pour

The verb pour means to make liquid flow out from a container by inclining the container. When you put milk or juice from the carton into a glass, you are pouring it. When it’s raining very hard, you can also say “It’s pouring.” Po or (adjective) is the opposite of rich. If a person is…

any / some

Some is used in positive statements; any is used in negative statements and questions: Positive: I want some bread Negative: I don’t want any bread. Question: Do we have any bread in the house? There is an exception – some is used in questions if you are offering something to someone, or asking for something:…

big / small / long / short / tall / huge / tiny

Use big and small to talk about the general size of something. Elephants are big. Mice are small. The word huge means “very big,” and the word tiny means “very small.” Their new house is huge! I think it has 50 rooms. “Do you want any cake?” “Just a tiny piece. I’m on a diet.”…

incite / insight

Insight (pronounced IN – site) is a noun that means an in-depth understanding: The biography offered many insights into the life of a famous artist. The research will provide insight into the development of the brain. She has lived in Mongolia for 30 years, and has valuable insight into the local culture. Incite (pronounced in…

convince / persuade

These words both refer to when a person influences another person to do or believe something: He persuaded me to move to New York by telling me about how exciting the city was. He convinced me that New York City was an exciting place to live. However, there are a few differences. We persuade someone…

so / such

The rule here is simple: so + adjective such + adjective + noun (person/object described) Compare these sentences: Their dog is so cute. They have such a cute dog. Her kids are so obedient. She has such obedient kids. Both so and such can be used in sentences where we add that + result: My…

think about / think of

The two most common prepositions used after the verb “think” are “about” and “of.” They are very similar, but there is a small difference. Usually when you think of something, it is a brief moment – just a few seconds. It is also used for opinions. When you think about something, you are considering it…

look / see / watch

These are all actions you do with your eyes, but there are some small differences in the ways we use each word: Look is to direct your attention towards something. “Look” is intentional, and it is often used in the form: look + at + (object) – Look at the sunset – it’s so beautiful!…

fit / match / suit

These words are all used when something is appropriate or perfect for a situation. They are also used when talking about clothing. When two things match, it means they are equal, or very similar so they appear nice together. I’m buying a yellow hat to match my yellow jacket. Your socks don’t match – one…

council / counsel

The noun council refers to a group of people that discusses or decides about a particular subject, or that represents people, or runs an organization. It is like a committee. The city council voted to invest more funds in education. The security council is debating the use of armed guards at shopping centers. The noun…

aid / assist / help

There is no difference in meaning between these three words, but there are some slight differences in the way they fit in the sentence. Help is the most common and most informal (aid and assist are both more formal). Aid is more commonly used as a noun, not a verb: a hearing aid is a…