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Words Often Confused (A-series)

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1. Abjure: to renounce
Adjure: to appeal

2. Abstain: avoid a thing
Refrain: avoid an action

3. Accept: to agree, to take
Except: exempt, save

4. Access: approach
Excess: more than enough

5. Accessary: a helper in any act
Accessory: additional

6. Accident: an unexpected happening usually tragic in nature
Incident: a minor event

7. Adapt: to suit, to adjust
Adept: skilled
Adopt: to take up

8. Adverse: contrary, hostile
Averse: unwilling, reluctant

9. Affect: to pretend
Effect: result (noun), to produce or accomplish (verb)

10. Air: A mixture of gases (especially oxygen) required for breathing
Ere: before
Heir: one who inherits

11. Alimentary: concerning food and digestion
Elementary: connected with the fundamentals

12. Allude: to make an indirect reference
Elude: to escape, evade

13. Allusion: indirect reference
Illusion: a deceptive appearance

14. Altar: place of worship
Alter: to change

15. Alternate: by turns
Alternative: other choice

16. Alteration: change
Altercation: quarrel

17. Amiable: lovable, sweet
Amicable: friendly

18. Annual: coming every year
Annul: to make null; to reduce to nothing

19. Answer: we answer a question
Reply: we reply to a letter, an assertion or a statement

20. Antipathy: dislike
Apathy: indifference

21. Apposite: suitable
Opposite: contrary, in front of

22. Appraise: to estimate, to judge
Apprise: to inform

23. Appreciable: that which can be estimated
Appreciative: estimating justly, full of appreciation

24. Apprehend: to arrest
Comprehend: to understand

25. Approval: the act of showing satisfaction
Approbation: praise

26. Ardent: fiery, enthusiastic
Arduous: difficult

27. Artful: clever, cunning
Artificial: not natural
28. Artist: one who practices a fine art
Artisan: one who practices a handicraft

29. Ascent: climbing up
Assent: consent

30. Assay: to test
Essay: a literary composition

31. Assure: to convince
Insure: to guard against loss

32. Attenuate: to make slender or thin
Extenuate: to lessen guilt by offering an excuse

33. Aught: anything
Ought: should

34. Avocation: subordinate occupation usually for pleasure
Vocation: occupation

35. Award: something that is conferred or bestowed
Reward: something that is given in return of good or evil done or received

Sample Usage


1. Abjure: He abjured all his rights to kingship.
Adjure: The chairman adjured the members to be restrained.

2. Abstain: You should try to abstain from strong drinks and lead a temperate life
Refrain: If only people could refrain from speaking ill of others, this world would be a more agreeable place to live in.

3. Accept: He refused to accept my invitation
Except: Every student except Suresh passed the examination with less than fifty percent marks.

4. Access: A democratic leader ought to be easy of access.
Excess: If you drink in excess, it will injure your health.

5. Accessary: Can you deny that you have been an important accessary in hatching this conspiracy?
Accessory: Let us discuss the main issue; the accessories can be thrashed out later on.

6. Accident: The train accident took a heavy toll of life.
Incident: He related to us some interesting incidents of his life.

7. Adapt: Unless you adapt yourself to your circumstances, you cannot lead a contended life.
Adept: Those who are adept in the art of flattery make a rapid progress in their life.
Adopt: You should not adopt unfair means even if you fail.

8. Adverse: He is very sensitive to adverse criticism.
Averse: I am quite averse to non-vegetarian dishes.

9. Affect: In order to escape the wrath of his father, he affected the ignorance of the whole affair.
Effect: He is so hot headed that no advice produces any effect on him.

10. Air: Fresh air is good for health.
Ere: Ere he left for England, he was engaged to marry Sunila.
Heir: Usually when a king dies, his son is the heir to the throne.

11. Alimentary: She died of cancer in her alimentary canal.
Elementary: This book deals with only the elementary principles of the Physics.

12. Allude: In her speech, the prime minister alluded to some of the highly uncharitable remarks made by the members of the Opposition.
Elude: The culprit eluded the police for a very long time.

13. Allusion: There are too many topical allusions in the plays of Ben Jonson.
Illusion: Many Indian philosophers are disposed to think that life is an illusion.

14. Altar: He knelt before the altar and confessed his sins.
Alter: You should alter your way of speaking.

15. Alternate: I go to hospital on alternate Saturdays.
Alternative: You have no alternative left but to study hard day and night.

16. Alteration: The legislative assembly suggested alterations in the bill.
Altercation: There was altercation among the members of parliament.

17. Amiable: She wins everyone’s admiration with her amiable nature.
Amicable: It would be an illusion to think that India and Pakistan could ever be on amicable terms.

18. Annual: Our annual examinations begin in the first week of April.
Annul: All the decisions taken at the earlier meeting were annulled.

19. Answer: In the examination, your answers should be brief and relevant.
Reply: He is very lazy in replying to the letters I write to him.

20. Antipathy: You have not been able to progress on account of your antipathy to manual labour.
Apathy: In almost all the government offices, we can see a general apathy towards work.

21. Apposite: His interpretation of the poem is not very apposite.
Opposite: His arguments are the opposite of mine.

22. Appraise: It is difficult to appraise someone’s worth accurately.
Apprise: The principal has been apprised of the whole situation.

23. Appreciable: No appreciable progress has been made.
Appreciative: The students are highly appreciative of your way of teaching.

24. Apprehend: Last month many persons were apprehended under Defence of India rules.
Comprehend: The audience failed to comprehend his speech.

25. Approval: This plan of yours has my full approval.
Approbation: I need nobody’s approbation to decide what I have to do.

26. Ardent: Many an ardent follower of Marx does not even know what Marxism is.
Arduous: To attain salvation is quite an arduous task.

27. Artful: We could easily see through his artful schemes.
Artificial: The Punjab has a highly efficient artificial system of irrigation.

28. Artist: Painters, poets and musicians are artists.
Artisan: Carpenters and blacksmiths are artisans.

29. Ascent: This hill has both a dangerous and a steep ascent.
Assent: No bill can be passed without the assent of President.

30. Assay: Our examinations do not provide a fair assay of a candidate’s capability.
Essay: Bacon is considered to be the father of the English essay.

31. Assure: I assured him of my sincere help.
Insure: You must get your house insured against fire

32. Attenuate: Heavy taxation has attenuated his financial resources.
Extenuate: Nothing can extenuate the seriousness of this offence.

33. Aught: If there is aught I could do for you, please feel free to write to me.
Ought: One ought to abide by the promise one makes.

34. Avocation: He is a lecturer, and fiction-writing is his avocation.
Vocation: His vocation is painting but it does not bring him enough money to make both ends meet.

35. Award: Param Vir Chakara is an award given for gallantry in war.
Reward: The peon was suitably rewarded for his honesty.

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