In today’s English lesson, I am going to help you understand 10 confusing words in English. These are words that even native speakers use incorrectly and sometimes spell incorrectly. Those words ‘advice’ and ‘advise’, ‘lose’ and ‘loose’, ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’ and ‘accept’ and ‘except’. I will show you the correct pronunciation of these words, the meaning and example sentences to help you understand these words like a native speaker. So if you’re ready to improve your vocabulary, let’s get started!
Advice / Advise
The first two words we are going to look at today are ‘advice’ and ‘advise’. ‘Advice’ with a C has a /s/ sound. Advice. Advice. ‘Advise’ with an S has a /z/ sound. Advise. Advise. That means when you make the final sound in this word, your throat must vibrate. Advise.
So what’s the difference between these two words? Well the main difference is that ‘advice’ is a noun. ‘Advise’ is a verb. Just remember, C is the noun and S is the verb. So what do these words mean? Well ‘advice’ means suggestions about what you think someone or something should do. ‘Advise’ means to make suggestions about what you think someone or something should do.
Now let’s have a look at some examples of how to use these words. Number one. Could you give me some advice? We use ‘advice’ here because we are asking for something. And if we’re asking for something, that means we need to use a noun because a noun is a thing. Please note that we do not say ‘advices’ because we cannot count ‘advice’. ‘Advice’ is an uncountable noun.
Number two. What is your advice for me? Again, we need to use ‘advice’ with a C because we’re asking for something so we need to use a noun.
Number three. His doctor advised him to get some rest. We use ‘advise’ with an S because his doctor is making a suggestion. His doctor is doing something.
And number four. Can you advise me on the problem? We use ‘advise’ with an S because I want you to do something. That means we need to use a verb.
Lose / loose
The next words we are going to look at are ‘lose’ and ‘loose’. ‘Lose’, with just one O is pronounced ‘lose’. It has a /z/ sound at the end. That means when you say this word, your throat should vibrate. Lose. ‘Loose’ with two Os is pronounced ‘loose’. Loose. That final S sound is just pronounced as an S. Loose. ‘Lose’ has two main meanings.
The first meaning is when you can’t find something. For example, ‘I always lose my car keys.’ That means I always can’t find my car keys. The second main meaning of ‘lose’ is the opposite of win. For example, if you lose a game, that means the other team or the other person wins the game. An example sentence could be ‘Manchester United lost the game.’ This means Manchester United did not win the game.
Okay now let’s talk about ‘loose’. The main meaning of ‘loose’ is when something is not tight. When something is too big. In the picture on the screen now, you can see that the jeans are too big for the person. This means they are loose.
Affect / Effect
The next two words are ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. ‘Affect’ and ‘effect’. With my accent, these two words have exactly the same pronunciation. Please note that with some accents ‘effect’ with an E has an /ɪ/ sound at the start. So this word would be pronounced as ‘effect’. Effect.
So what’s the difference between these two words? Well the main difference is that one is normally a noun and one is normally a verb. ‘Affect’ with an A is normally a verb and ‘effect’ with an E is normally a noun. ‘Affect’ with an A can mean to change something or to change someone. This is a verb. ‘Effect’ can mean a change that is caused by something or someone. This is a noun.
Now let’s put these words in some sentences so you can see the difference. Number one. Has the noise affected you? We use ‘affected’ with an A because ‘noise’ is the noun and ‘affected’ is the verb.
Number two. The disease affects many people. We use ‘affects’ with an A because the disease is causing a change to many people.
Number three. It had a really big effect on her life. We use ‘effect’ with an E because we are talking about the change – the change is a thing.
Number four. The long-term effects of smoking are very bad. Again, we use ‘effects’ with an E because we talking about the changes and the changes are a noun – they are a thing.
Desert / Dessert
The next two words are ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’. ‘Desert’ and ‘dessert’. These two words cause a lot of confusion for students who are learning English so let’s talk about the pronunciation. ‘Desert’ with one S is pronounced ‘desert’. The stress is on the first syllable. That means, on the first syllable, there should be more energy. Desert. ‘Dessert’ with two Ss is pronounced ‘dessert’. The stress on ‘dessert’ is on the second syllable. That means more energy is placed on the second sound. Dessert. Dessert. Dessert.
So what is the difference between these two words? Well they are both nouns but they have a very very different meaning. What you see on the screen now is a ‘desert’. ‘Desert’ with one S. An example sentence could be ‘Deserts are very hot places with lots of sand.’ A ‘dessert’ is a sweet food that is normally eaten after the main part of a meal. What you see on the screen right now is a ‘dessert’. An example sentence could be ‘What’s your favourite dessert?
Now to make things even more confusing for you, this word here can sometimes be pronounced as ‘desert’. Desert. When this word is pronounced as ‘desert’, it’s a verb which means to leave a place or leave a person and never come back. An example sentence could be ‘The person deserted his family.’ This means the person is not with his family now and he will not come back.
Accept / Except
The next two words are ‘accept’ and ‘except’. ‘Accept’ and ‘except’. ‘Accept’ with an A is pronounced as ‘accept’. Accept. In my accent, the first sound is that schwa sound. Accept. Accept. ‘Except’ with an E is pronounced as ‘except’. Except. That first E sound is actually pronounced as an /ɪ/. Except.
So what do these two words mean? Well, ‘accept’ with an A means to agree to take something that someone offers you or tries to give you. For example, ‘I accepted the job offer.’ This means someone offered me a job. They wanted to give me a job and I agreed to take the job. Another example could be ‘He doesn’t like to accept advice from his friends.’ This means his friends try to give him advice but he will not agree to take that advice.
Now let’s talk about ‘except’. ‘Except’ means not including something. For example, ‘It rained every day this week except Friday.’ This means it rained every day this week but we do not include Friday. That means it didn’t rain on Friday.
Another example could be ‘I’ve been to every city in Australia except Sydney.’ This means I have been to every city but I am not including Sydney. I have not been to Sydney.
You have learned about 10 confusing words in English but wait, we are not finished yet. Now it’s time to have a little quiz to test your understanding. You will see 10 sentences on the screen with a missing word. I want you to choose the correct word for that sentence. The questions will be on the screen for 5 seconds so pause the video, think about your answers and then press play when you are ready to see the answers. Are you ready? Good luck!