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Commonly Misused English Words Part 2

Updated on April 6, 2015

This is a followup to my hub titled Commonly Misused English Words. If you missed the first part, just follow the link above to catch up on the first set of 13 most commonly misused English words. In this part, I will be discussing another set of the most commonly misused English words. The 'most common' description is of course very subjective. What is a 'common error' for one person may not be 'common' for another, so this hub is primarily aimed at those who have trouble remembering the differences between the following list of words that sometimes are deceptively similar sounding and hence prone to being misused/misinterpreted.


Twelve Commonly Misused English Words With Explanations!!

Do you misuse these English words as well. Read on and find out!!

Common English Error # 14: Hoard versus Horde

hoard - to keep to oneself / to store

Example: Some home owners have the tendency to hoard things even though they no longer need them.

horde - a multitude / a teeming crowd / a nomadic group

Example: Genghis Khan and his hordes conquered much of Asia.


Common English Error # 15: than versus then

than -- used when contrasting or comparing

Example: He was smarter than everybody else.

then - a thing resulting from another

Example: The slides were then removed and examined.


Common English Error # 16: complaint versus compliant

The spellings of these two words are quite deceptive and hence users tend to use the more familiar spelling (i.e. complaint) even in cases where the other one (i.e. compliant) is being referred to. Spell check won't catch errors such as these - the same is true for many of the other words discussed in this hub.

complaint - used to express grief, pain or dissatisfaction

Example: The patient had no complaint of pain.

compliant - ready to comply / to submit to

Example 1: The patient has been compliant with the doctor's instructions.

Example 2: He was compliant with our policies.


Common English Error # 17: Flair versus Flare

flair (noun) - a natural talent or ability / elegance or style

Example 1: He has a flair for mathematics and science.

Example 2: He always dresses with flair.

flare (noun/verb) - flame / burst into anger / to erupt suddenly

Example 1: His temper flared for no apparent reason.

Example 2: He is having a flare-up of his asthma.


Common English Error # 18: Who's versus whose

who's - contraction or short form of "who is" OR "who has"

Example 1: Who's coming with us? i.e. Who is coming with us?

Example 2: Who's been driving my car? i.e. Who has been driving my car?

whose - possessive form of “who"

Example: Whose books are those?


Common English Error # 19: Taught versus Taut

Taught - Past tense of 'teach' (to impart knowledge or skill)

Example: The students were taught.

Taut - Pulled tight

Example: The lines were pulled taut.


Common English Error # 20: Silicon versus Silicone

This is not your typical 'common English error,' but I have seen these two being used interchangeably.

Silicon - refers to the chemical element that we all studied about in school and college.

Silicone - with the 'e' at the end refers to materials that contain silicon - such as breast implants (silicone breast implants NOT silicon breast implants)


Common English Error # 21: Counselor versus Councilor

counselor – one who counsels or gives advice.

Example: I needed the help of a counselor to deal with my depression.

councilor – member of a local government or city council


Common English Error # 22: Incidence versus Incidents

incidence – frequency of occurrence or pattern

Example: The incidence of shark attacks declined sharply last year.

incidents – a particular or distinct event(s) / an action leading to something else

Example: Such incidents tarnish the country's image.


Common English Error # 23: Cite versus Site

cite - to quote by example, to issue a notice, to bring forward

Example 1: The driver was cited for speeding through the intersection.

Example 2: I will cite the references for this.

site - a location

Example: The site of this year's G8 Summit is.........


Common English Error # 24: Fair versus Fare

Fair – beautiful; marked by impartiality and honesty; in reference to weather

Example 1: The farmers say they are not paid a fair price for the milk they produce.

Example 2: The weather forecast is fair for today.

Fare – get along, succeed; cost

Example 1: How did you fare in your exams?

Example 2: The ticket fare for the train ride was a bit out of our budget.


Common English Error # 25: anytime versus any time

This is an interesting one. The correct word is 'any time,' i.e. the two-word form and this is how the British use it to the best of my knowledge. However, the Americanized version often has it as 'anytime' - a single word.

Example: The appointment can be scheduled anytime.


Example: The doctor will not have any time to spare until next week.

Some justify the usage of 'anytime' versus 'any time' like so, and by the way, this is what I follow as well.

anytime = at any time

any time = as a modifier of 'time'

Example: I don't have any time to spare today. (any modifies time)

Example: I can schedule an appointment for you anytime tomorrow.

I know this can be quite confusing. So, if you are unsure of whether to use the one-word form or two-word form, you can just play it safe and go with the two-word form (any time).


Well, thus far, I have covered 25 of the most commonly misused English words. I haven't covered them all though! Perhaps, I'd write a followup hub to this in due course!


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    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Leni, thanks again for stopping by and commenting. Glad you feel that way - was a pleasure writing this hub :)

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      6 years ago from UK

      It is refreshing to read these hubs, thanks for writing them. All bookmarked interesting and useful

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      between 'right' and 'rite' !!


    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks again, TL, for stopping by and commenting. Well, all I can say is I am honored that you think so highly of this humble hub of mine. Yes, I understand what you mean. I am a bit of a perfectionist myself, so you can imagine how I feel when I see malapropisms. Thanks again for your kind words of appreciation and for taking the time to comment in such detail :)

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

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

      Wow (again). I think I love you... maybe that's a bit extreme, but I get so annoyed when I see homophones being used incorrectly. Immediately I shudder and turn to some other form of reading material. If only there were some form of "SpellChecker" on the computer to drag these out, but maybe those who use the incorrect ones wouldn't understand what they were being shown, anyway. I, personally, have deplorable typographical skills, so sometimes my computer doesn't pick my errors up... or doesn't pick up my errors (more correct) but then it's my fault entirely. Great hub. Thank you.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Oops, I see I read this one before. My ability to retain printed info is so bad. Nevertheless it was just as good the second time around.

    • gadhka profile image


      8 years ago

      thank you all but do not stop to increase our writings as we are beginers

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks again Robert for taking the time to comment. Am glad you found this hub worthy enough to bookmark! Thank you :)

    • Robertbloggert profile image


      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Bookmark 2

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you, FF, again for stopping by. Glad you found this hub helpful!!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Another good on Shil, I love these, very helpful, especially for those of us that attempt to write for the public.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Rochelle, I agree! It can be quite distracting and annoying to a knowledgeable reader and, yes, correct word usage adds credibility to your work. Thanks again, Rochelle, for stopping by and commenting!!

      Lena - do hope this hub helps some. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!!

    • lovebuglena profile image

      Lena Kovadlo 

      8 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Great hub. Should be helpful to writers and even those learning English.


    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      8 years ago from California Gold Country

      I just discovered this series and I am sure it is very helpful to a lot of us. Some people think it doesn't matter (madder) if you use one of another, but it can be very distracting to a reader who knows the difference and it distracts from the subject being presented when the wrong word is used.

      I am a naturally bad speller, so I do my best to self- edit and spell check. Correct word usage give more credibility to your writing.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Pcunix for stopping by and commenting. The one without the 'e' at the end is very rare. Lawyers use it more. The one with the 'e' at the end is the more common word and one which most people mean to use!!

      You can safely use 'therefore' in most instances - unless it is a legal document or the context in which it is being used is a legal one!

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 

      8 years ago from SE MA

      I have trouble remembering therefore and therefor. I think it's the one with an e on the end I usually mean.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you 'pinkhawk' for stopping by and commenting!! Glad you found this hub useful as well. Thanks again for visiting :)

    • pinkhawk profile image


      8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      ..interesting and useful followup, worth the read! thank you very much once again! ^.^

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Dave - Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Yes, I agree, not the easiest language to grasp. Thanks for your appreciation!!

      Shalini - Yes, I hope so. That was the intention!! Thanks for stopping by and commenting Shalini and thanks for the appreciation!!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Very well laid out, Shil! I'm sure there will be many who find this extremely useful!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Well done. My Language My Mother Tongue English is not the easiest to grasp with so many words that sound the same or alike.


    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Well, regarding Silicon Valley, I would think the naming had to do with the presence of silicon chip manufacturing companies there. Don't think there is any center for plastic surgeons in Silicon Valley btw. It is basically a hub for high-tech firms!!

      I guess people confuse the silicon word with the silicone used in breast implants and make a connection between the two. Perhaps, you did the same!!

      Yes, the capital/capitol one I haven't touched upon yet. Yes, perhaps that would be a good candidate for the next list!!

      Thank you 'i scribble' for stopping by and commenting :)

    • i scribble profile image

      i scribble 

      8 years ago

      I really never noticed that silicon and silicone were 2 different words. I know there is a place in CA that I think is called Silicon Valley? I always figured it was probably a center for plastic surgeons, but now I'm thinking it must be something else. Do you know?

      I don't think you did capital/capitol yet, did you? That might be a good one for next list.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Suny for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found this hub useful. Thanks again for visiting by :)

    • suny51 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello Shill-I am one of those, who never mis any opportunity to learn something from where ever it is available and I am mentioning this here because I learnt some of it from your pages too.Thank you.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Gus for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found this hub helpful!!

      Petra - I just read your hub, great perspective. You'd find a link to your hub on this hub. I would put in a link on my other hub too - thank you!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Shil,

      This is another great hub and I linked it to my hub which I am not sure you read yet: "The never ending challenge of English". Your first hub is also linked to it

    • gusripper profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes Helpfull.

    • Shil1978 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Oishi - Thank you for stopping by and commenting!! Yes, the silicon v. silicone one isn't known to most, reason why I thought of putting that one in!

      Yes, the examples are important in most cases, as without them - it can be quite confusing to grasp the concept!!

      Tony - When I started the first hub, I just did it for the fun of it. However, through my first hub, I met hubbers like Petra Vlah for whom writing in English can sometimes be a struggle - especially since for them English is not their first language.

      Hence, I decided to continue this series - hopefully I'd be able to publish some more hubs on this series!!

      Thank you Tony for stopping by this hub and for your kind words of appreciation :)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      These two Hubs are great and ehlpful. Yes, I think you should continue the series as I think many writers would be pleased to have these words in easily referenced format.

      Love and peace


    • oishi profile image


      8 years ago

      Just as useful as the first part. The one on silicon vs. silicone is a new one and interesting. I like the way you have explained with the help of examples.


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