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Confusing Words

In English, there are many words and phrase which look similar, but they are different in meaning:


Studio: a place where pictures are taken, or films are made.

e.g. The film was made in a Hollywood studio.

Studious: fond of study; careful and thoughtful.

e.g. To be a good scientist, you must be studious.


Mellow: mature; soft and pure; rich and full.

e.g. As he continues to age, he become more mellow and compassionate.

Melodious: tuneful; pleasant to the ear.

e.g. He voice is melodious; he should take up singin


Perishable: liable to die quickly.

e.g. Fresh vegetables are perishable; put them in the refrigerator.

: causing suffering.

e.g. Negative thinking may cause perishing emotions and thoughts.


Sedative: calming or soothing.

e.g. The doctor gave her some sedative medicine to put her to sleep..

: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.

e.g His sedentary work -- sitting in front of the computer -- took a toll on his health.

e.g. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle even if you are approaching 60..


Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?
e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: kind, friendly, mild.

e.g. Be gentle to my puppy.


Disposable: cant be removed or got rid of.

e.g. This machine is disposable; we can do without it

Indisposed: not feeling well; unwilling to

e.g. You look indisposed. Is there something wrong with you?
e.g. Many people are indisposed to working on weekends.


Terminable: can be ended.

e.g. Your employment is only temporary and terminable at any time.

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told him that he had terminal cancer.


Decorative: having an artistic or showy effect.

e.g. The ballroom with all the ribbons and flowers are very decorative.

Decorous: showing good taste.

e.g. The Princess looks decorous in that simple but beautiful dress.

Ingenious / Ingenuous

is clever; ingenuous is natural, free from deceit.

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to steal the money.
e.g. His response was sincere and ingenuous.

Genteel / Gentle

Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?
e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: being nice and showing care

e.g. Be gentle with the baby.

Bulk / Hulk

Bulk: in large quantities; the greater part of.

e.g. His business was selling wheat in bulk.
e.g. The billionaire gave the bulk of his estate to charity.

Hulk: a big, clumsy person.

e.g. If you do nothing to your obesity, you will soon become a hulk.

Hail / Hale

Hail means to greet or salute; hale means healthy and strong.

e.g. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."
e.g. A man is hale when his complexion is rosy.
e.g. This dress is too loose for you (not tight enough).

Some time / Sometime / Sometimes

Some time means a period of time.
Sometime, as an adverb, means approximately; as an adjective, means former or occasional.
Sometimes, as an adverb, means now and then.

e.g. We have been for the train for some time.
e.g. Why don't you visit me sometime?
e.g. She was my sometime girlfriend.
e.g. Sometimes I like her, and sometimes I don't -- that's our relationship.

Lose / Loose

Lose means being unable to find; loose means to set free or to become less tight.

e.g. Here is your ticket to the game; don't lose it.
e.g. Don't lose your temper (become angry).
e.g. You are too loose with your children (you have little or no control over them).


Deplete means to empty; replete means to be filled with.

e.g. The workload has depleted me of energy and strength.

e.g. Your garage is replete with garden tools.
e.g. Your garage is replete with garden tools.


Common means shared or used by many; commonplace means ordinary and not very interesting.

e.g. To be healthy and wealthy is a common New Year’s resolution.

e.g. Running may be a commonplace sport for many.


Fragile: delicate, easily broken.

e.g. This piece of antique is fragile; please handle it with care.

: weak in health; without strong support.

e.g. Are you OK? You look pale and frail.

e.g. The Senator received frail support from his party.


Periodic: occurring again and again.

e.g. The singer has never really retired with periodic appearance on TV.

: published at regular intervals.

e.g. This is a periodical magazine -- published once a month.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 20

More to Come
Building Vocabulary
Confusing Words
Correcting the Incorrect
Learning Grarnmar
Learning Prepositions
Learning Sentence Style
Learning Some Slang