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Commonly Confused Words

Homophones - words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings can lead to communication problems.

5 things you need to know...

  1. Good spelling aids communication - people expect you to be able to spell correctly.  Mistakes in assignments will make your meaning unclear.
  2. Be professional - errors in academic work may cost marks, and errors on application forms and in letters may cost you a job.
  3. Do you use a spell checker?  If you do be careful as it only checks for the accuracy of the spelling and not the correct usage of the word.
  4. Use a dictionary and a thesaurus - this will help you to ensure the meaning of the word you are using is correct.  This will also help you to widen your vocabulary.
  5. Take a look at our factsheet - we have provided online sites with lists of homophones to help you to choose the correct spelling.

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets

COLLINS DICTIONARY (2012) Commonly Confused Words [online].   [Accessed: 2 September 2019]


OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS(2015) Commonly Confused Words [online].   [Accessed:2 September 2019]

STRAUSS, J. (2015) Spelling, Grammar and Commonly Confused Words [online]. [Accessed:2 September 2019]


Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

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The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.