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Common Mistakes And Confusions In English Usage IV

Updated on July 18, 2012
Quite or quiet, bought or brought, went or when .... let me sleep on that.
Quite or quiet, bought or brought, went or when .... let me sleep on that. | Source

I can’t seem to run out of English words that are commonly confused. This is already the fourth hub about common English mistakes that even veteran speakers of the English language make, and this definitely will not be the last. One thing that I will try to do from this hub onwards is to use the words featured in the previous hubs in the examples given.

Quite / Quiet
I think this is another frequent mistake that is due more to carelessness rather than ignorance. The difference between the two words is significant, with quiet having the meaning of little noise or silence while quite is an adverb which generally means completely or totally. A possible complication is that quiet can also be used as an adjective meaning little activity or little noise as in they were indulging in many hours of quiet play. To cause a little more confusion, quiet can also be used as a verb as when someone asks you to quiet down when you are being a little rowdy.

More examples on quite and quiet:

  • She likes to get an early start to the day as she does her best work in the early morning quiet.
  • In the quiet of the early morning, the chirping of the crickets can be quite loud.
  • She finds that she is not quite as productive in the afternoon as she is in the morning.
  • The children were told to quiet down as they were being quite noisy and the kindergarten had already received complaints.

When / Went
This pair is another mistake that I found on HubPages. I guess many people make a mistake with these two because they sound the same although they are quite different words. When is used when we are referring to a time in the past while went is the past tense of go.

More examples on how went and when can be used:

  • When you make a stupid mistake like confusing went and when, you wonder where your intelligence went.
  • It was when Gary complimented her on her excellent skating skills that she slipped and fell flat on her back.
  • She went to a chiropractor to seek advice on her bad back, but when she reached his office, she found that he’d gone on vacation.

Desert / Dessert
This is probably one of the more common mistakes. Dessert is something usually sweet that you eat at the end of a meal while desert means a dry and arid land when used as a noun and means to abandon when used as a verb.

Examples on desert and dessert:

  • The principal of the school announced a trip to the desert after everybody had finished their dessert.
  • He decided to go against the advice of his father and desert the army because he didn’t believe in violence.
  • Apart from the fact that the desert is hot and dry, it is really a fun place to visit.

Bought / Brought
Another commonly confused pair is bought and brought. Bought is the past tense of buy while brought is the past tense of bring. One way of remembering which is which is to remember that when you bring money to buy stuff, you will end up with less money after you buy stuff and hence bought has fewer characters than brought.

Additional examples on how bought and brought can be used:

  • She brought the electric kettle that she bought back to the store for a refund.
  • She intended to use the computer that she bought for surfing the net, watching movies and listening to music.
  • He bought the flowers and brought them home in the boot of the car, hoping to sneak up on her and surprise her when they walked to the door.

Lose / Loose
The last pair for this hub, lose and loose, is another pair that does not have similar meaning but is usually confused as their spelling and pronunciation are similar. Lose has the opposite meaning to win while loose is the antonym of tight.

More examples on lose and loose to help you remember their differences:

  • Many of us start off fit and trim but as the years pass, we find that the pounds pile on and we need to start on an exercise program to lose weight.
  • This structured product guarantees your principal so that you will not lose money even if the fund manager make a bad investment.
  • The moorings broke loose in the rough seas and the ship started drifting with the current.

This pair has been kindly suggested by: chinemeremz


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    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Esther - I think I must have been sleeping when my teacher taught about the difference between less and fewer. Thanks! :)

    • profile image

      Esther 7 years ago

      Eh... "less characters"? Whatever happened to "fewer"? Just thought I'd mention this as this article is all about using the English language correctly ;-)

      Kind regards,

      A Dutch native

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Twilight Lawns - Ouch, you just called your friend a vulgar and uncouth person. But I bet he deserves it. :)

      And I do agree with you about respecting a language and using it properly while being informal if it's appropriate.

      richtwf - I hope that the increase is due to the web and more people taking up English as a second language and not due to the native speakers bothering less about writing and speaking English well.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      fucsia - Don't worry, the problems that you are having are faced by all of us - even English majors. ;)

      Hello, hello, - Thanks! :)

    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 7 years ago

      Excellent reminders. I have seen these words being used wrongly and it seems to be on the unfortunate increase.

      Great hub and thanks for sharing.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Pamela N Red - I feel that lose/loose are more typos than real errors. I mean, I have yet to see someone try to loose weight. :)

      astigpinoy16 - So long as you are learning, you are probably better than 99% of the people out there. And it is after starting this series of hubs that I realize how little I know about English. And don't worry, there will be more hubs to come. :)

      L.L. Woodard - Thanks! :)

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Fucsia, I taught English, majored in English at Teachers' College; yet I still and always learning new things about it and thereby, studying it.

      Wandererh, I keep a an OED dictionary beside my bed and beside me in the living room, I use the spell check and thesaurus on my computer all the time. That is not pedantry, that is loving a language and treating it with respect.

      My friend also pronounces "pedantic" with the seconf syllable sounding like "aunt" or "aren't", whereas it should sound like "ant".

      I call that being snobbish.

      (OED: Snob - a vulgar uncouth person who apes his betters)

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Twilight Lawns - Wow, more words. :)

      And you can tell your friend that you are definitely not being pedantic as the difference between your and you're is substantial. And I find it curious that someone who doesn't bother about your and you're knows the meaning of pedantic - I had to look it up. :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Very helpful and well explained.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 7 years ago

      Your Hubs are very useful for me. Many of the mistakes you wrote are the usual problems I encounter, always the same! ( english is not my first language and I am still and always studing it)

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Great review.

    • astigpinoy16 profile image

      astigpinoy16 7 years ago from Philippines

      Sir your series of common mistake is great, it helps me a lot, English is not my native language so I learn from this, I will definitely bookmark this. Please post another if you found another misuse or common mistakes in English .

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      I see people misuse quiet/quite and lose/loose quite often. Some are typos but some just don't know the different.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      What about a few homophones and looking at awe, or, oar, ore?

      The list is endless... but in the case of some people, the list is finite.

      I have a friend who, when being told he has used the wrong word, will say, "That'll do".

      He will happily sign a letter, "Your's sincerely" or say "You're spelling is no better than mine. Your just being pedantic".

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Twilight Lawns - Thanks! I try to be as thorough as I can, and you really do flatter me by making it sound like I'm some kind of expert. :)

      Well, if it is any consolation, the guy who said "pooring" with rain at least got the pronunciation right. :)

      And thanks to you, I found another pair - through/though/thorough. :)

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      An excellent hub, as usual, my friend. What worries me, is that fact that a lot of people, and I certainly don't exclude those who "publish" on HP either, wouldn't understand your definitions and methods of bringing the correct word to mind; or frankly don't seem to care anyway.

      I know that the spell check facility won't pick up the difference between lose and loose or the difference between bought and brought (as both are words), but when I read someone saying that it is pooring with rain, I almost lose the will to live.