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10+ Common Words We Tend to Confuse All the Time (and How to Tell Them Apart)

There are so many words in the English language that can confuse even the most experienced writer. Whether it’s about spelling differences or rhymes, it seems like we could end up in even more pitfalls and get things mixed up over and over again.

To help you out, we at Bright Side have put together this list of some of the most confusing words, as well as some tips on how to tell them apart.

1. Husky vs malamute

  • Husky — normally, huskies are smaller than malamutes. They are bred for speed, like a marathon runner. The breed is originally from Siberia.
  • Malamute — malamutes are generally bigger and heavier than huskies, as well as fluffier around the shoulders and neck. They can pull heavier loads, more like a weightlifter, and were bred in Alaska.

2. Weather vs climate

  • Weather — this is the changing atmosphere that occurs on a daily basis in one place at a specific time. The weather is different all over the world and changes can happen over days, hours, and even minutes.
  • Climate — the climate is actually the average weather in one place over many years. While the weather can change constantly, the climate will need years, sometimes thousands of them, to experience any change.

3. Aardvark vs anteater

  • Aardvark — although they look sweet, aardvarks are usually bigger than anteaters and can grow up to 4 feet long. They live in African savannahs, they’re nocturnal, and they have teeth, though they also eat ants and bugs with their long tongue.
  • Anteater — normally, they live in Central and South America. Anteaters have bushy fur and a long tongue for eating ants and termites, but unlike aardvarks, they are toothless.

4. Trumpet vs trombone

  • Trumpet — it’s a short brass instrument with 3 buttons to change its pitch. A smaller version of the trumpet that produces a brighter sound is called a cornet.
  • Trombone — this instrument is similar to a trumpet, but it’s tuned with a sliding section of tubing. Trombone players have to learn the different positions by ear and feel.

5. Hurricane vs cyclone vs typhoon

6. Aural vs oral

  • Aural — this has to do with ears and hearing.
  • Oral — this has to do with mouths and talking or singing.

7. Seal vs sea lion

  • Seals — they are smaller and have a rounder shape. They’re also much quieter and are better swimmers.
  • Sea lions — they are very loud! They also walk more than crawl on their larger flippers and have small flaps to cover their ears.

8. Mole vs vole

  • Moles — they prefer to live underground and hunt bugs and worms. They have claws for digging tunnels. Many people think moles are blind, but this is not true. They are colorblind, however, and rely on smell to find food.
  • Voles — these are mainly vegetarians. They live in low-lying vegetation, often near rivers, and look more like mice.

9. Concrete vs cement

  • Concrete — this is a strong, gray building material. Although we often think of concrete and cement as the same thing, cement is just one ingredient in concrete. Concrete is also comprised of sand, gravel, and water.
  • Cement — it’s a binding substance used to make concrete as well as other things, like mortar.

10. Shrimp vs prawn

  • Shrimp — they’re usually smaller and curl up. They are mainly found in saltwater and have claws on their front 2 pairs of legs.
  • Prawns — these are larger, straighter, and have claws on the front 3 pairs of legs. Their front claws are also larger than those of shrimp, and they are mainly found in freshwater.

11. Wallaby vs kangaroo

  • Wallaby — the main difference between the 2 is size. Wallabies rarely reach a height of 1 meter, but kangaroos can grow up to 6.5 feet! Wallabies also have more colors in their fur.
  • Kangaroo — as well as being larger, kangaroos also have much larger legs, perfect for hopping and kicking. They also live longer, up to 30 years.

12. Sphinx vs sphynx

  • Spinx — this is a mythical creature with the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the wings of a falcon, as depicted by the Great Spinx in Egypt.
  • Sphynx — this is a hairless breed of cat. They are very affectionate and warm.

13. Glockenspiel vs xylophone vs marimba

  • Glockenspiel — although all of these percussion instruments are played by hitting sticks on tuned bars, they are different. The glockenspiel is made from metal. It has a smaller, higher range than the others and is usually smaller in size.
  • Xylophone — this instrument is made from wooden bars, so it produces a very different sound. It is thought to have originated in Africa.
  • Marimba — very similar to the xylophone, the marimba is also made from wood. The difference is that it has tubes underneath the bars that act as resonators. It also has the lowest range of the 3.

14. Tortoise vs turtle

  • Tortoises — they live on land. They have round shells and legs with claws for walking. Normally, they are vegetarians.
  • Turtles — they live in water. Because they swim, they have flippers, not legs, and smooth shells. They are omnivores.

Did you know these differences before? Which English words are most confusing to you? Do you have a few tips to tell them apart?

Preview photo credit shutterstock.com, shutterstock.com
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