kinds / types / sorts

When talking about different varieties of things, kinds, types, and sorts are essentially the same: I like many different types of music. All sorts of people come to this club – students, professionals, artists. This restaurant has fifty different kinds of sushi. When asking questions, we usually use the singular form: What type of music…

although / though / even though

These words are all used to show contrast. The difference is where we place them in the sentence. Although and even though are used at the beginning of a sentence or clause – never at the end: Although I exercise a lot, I can never seem to lose any weight. Even though I exercise a…

die / died / dead

Die is the verb in the present, and died is the verb in the past: He’s very sick; the doctors say he’s going to die. The nurse comforted the dying soldier. One of the country’s most famous authors died last week. Dead is the adjective, so we often use it with the verb “to be,”…

ocean / sea / lake / pond

Technically, there is a difference between an ocean and a sea. An ocean is an extremely large body of salt water, and a sea is partially surrounded by land. There are only five oceans: the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Antarctic Ocean. There are more than 50 seas, including the Mediterranean…

automobile / car / vehicle

The word automobile is just another name for a car. In casual everyday English, we usually use the word car. The word vehicle describes the more general category – it means a device for transporting people or things. Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, military tanks, sleds, horse-drawn wagons, even bicycles can all be considered vehicles. All…

dress / dressed / wear

A dress (n.) is a type of clothing that women wear: The words dressed (adj.) and get dressed (v.) can be used with both men AND women. “Get dressed” means to put on your clothes (the opposite is “get undressed”): You get dressed in the morning, or after taking a shower, and you get undressed…

Indian / indigenous / Native American

The word Indian is for people from the country of India. The word indigenous is used to describe native peoples of the land who lived there before the arrival of colonizers. However, some people use “Indian” for indigenous people. It is not correct, but people do it anyway – this is because the earliest European…

I / my / me / mine / myself

I is the subject – the person who does the action in the sentence. I gave John the book. Me is the object – the person who receives the action in the sentence. John gave me the book. R: John gave the book to me. Most people get confused when there are multiple subjects or…

intend / tend

If you intend to do something, it means you plan to do it. You have the desire or idea to do it in your mind, but the action has not been performed yet. For example: I intend to go to grad school next year. The Olympic athlete intends to become a coach after retiring from…

adverse / averse

The word adverse refers to something that is opposing – it goes against what you want, and is often unfavorable, harmful or challenging. Heavy rain, high winds, or icy roads are adverse weather conditions (because they interfere with the operation of normal life and transportation). If a medicine makes the patient’s health get worse, not…

sensible / sensitive

Sensible means having a good practical awareness or understanding of a situation: This is a very sensible article – it’s a realistic description of both points of view in the debate. I’m more of a dreamer, and my husband is the sensible one. I come up with crazy ideas and he tells me if they’ll…

collect / gather

The word gather simply means to bring together or come together: I gathered all my books and put them into my backpack. A crowd gathered around the TV to watch the World Cup game. If something is getting faster or stronger, you can say it gathers momentum or gathers strength: The charity campaign gathered momentum…

alien / foreigner / stranger

A stranger is a person you don’t know: – When I was a child, my mother taught me not to get into a car with a stranger. – When my car broke down, a kind stranger stopped to help me. A foreigner is someone who comes from another country: – This town is a popular…

discover / find out / notice / realize

To notice means to perceive something with your senses – to see, hear, smell, or feel it. She raised her hand, but the teacher didn’t notice her and called on another student to answer the question. I made a few mistakes during my piano performance, but nobody noticed. I noticed a strong smell of smoke…

concern / concerned / concerning

If you say someone is concerned, it means that person is worried: I’m concerned about my son – he’s not getting good grades in school. I live in a big city, and my mother is concerned for my safety. We’re concerned that we won’t be able to finish the project in time. You can also…

notable / noticeable

Something that is noticeable means that it is easy to be seen or observed: He has a noticeable accent – he must not be a native English speaker. The new medicine resulted in a noticeable improvement in her health. The differences between the old software and the new software are barely noticeable. Something that is…

alive / life / live

The word l-i-v-e has two pronunciations: The verb live (with the “i” sound in “sit”) means to reside: I live in a small house. She lives in France. The adjective live (with the “i” sound in “like”) has a few different meanings. When music or a TV broadcast is happening in real time (it was…

city / downtown / town

A city is larger than a town. New York City, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles are examples of cities. All state or country capitals are cities; cities usually have some significant political, economic or cultural importance. The word town refers to a smaller population center. And a very small population center – even smaller than…