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CONFUSING WORDS

1. adopt - adapt

We adopted their production methods.


The government adopted tough approach to the terrorists.
When we moved to France, the children adapted to the changes quite well. ( = adjusted )

2. affect - effect

Will recession affect our job prospects?


The advertising campaign didn’t have much effect on sales.

3. by contrast - on the contrary

Peter is intelligent; Fred , by contrast , is not.


Many people consider Fred to be intelligent. On the contrary, he is not.

4. classic - classical

This film is a classic western movie.


Their relationship is a classic case of love at first sight.
I prefer jazz to classical music.
Classical scientific ideas about light were changed by Einstein.

5. comic - comical

Some people say I would make an excellent comic actress.


They probably say it when you’re wearing this comical hat.

6. cultural - cultured - civilised

These pages offer information on concerts, films and other cultural events.
Cultured people will appreciate the fact that there are so many theatres in this city.
I was afraid he might become aggressive when told about it but in fact we had a
civilised conversation in a quiet place.

7. complex - complexion - complexity

The problem of world terrorism is not a simple one to be solved by winning one battle; it’s
much more complex, related to other issues in international polititics.
Nowadays even young girls look after their skin, using facial cleansers instead of tap water
to have a beautiful complexion.
I don’t think I could ever fully understand the complexities of the tax laws.

8. commission - provision

He gets a 10% commission on everything he sells.


You have to pay a 25p commission on each cheque you cash.
According to the provisions of the agreement the interest on the loan must be paid yearly
9. compliment - complement

He was complimented on his excellent performance.


Our local bus and rail services complement each other very well.

10. competition - competence

His competence as a teacher is not in question; I’m only worried about his attitude.
There was fierce competition between the journalists to get the story.

11. comprehensive - comprehensible

TV offered comprehensive coverage of the Olympics; there was live reporting all day.
A good teacher should be able to come up with a comprehensible explanation of every
new problem . What Mr Doubledutch says is always hard to understand.

12. compulsive - compulsory

She feels this urge to eat even when she’s not hungry and she cannot control it.
A compulsive eater like this is bound to become fat.
All children 7 years old and older are obliged to attend school since education at a
primary level is compulsory.

13. congenial - congenital

I am going to settle down in Provence; both the climate and the people are congenial to
me – they are just what I like.
A congenital disease is one you are born with.

14. conscience - consciousness

I had a bad conscience about not telling her the truth.


David lost consciousness at five o’clock and died three hours later.

15. continual - continuous

There was continuous rain from dawn to dusk: it never let up even for a moment.
I am so tired of these continual interruptions I’ll disconnect the phone or we’ll never
finish it today.

16. counsel - council

The matter was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations.
She counselled (=advised) them not to accept his explanation.

17. consequent - consistent

Competition in the market led to goods being produced cheaply and a consequent (=
following as a result) deterioration in quality.
The defendant’s consistent denial of the charges must have impressed the jury.

18. conservation - maintenance

A conservationist is a person who actively supports the conservation of our natural


environment, i.e. preservation and protection of nature.
Because my husband is a mechanic, the maintenance (=keeping it in good condition) of
our car should not cost us much.

19. content - contents

She emptied the contents of the can into a saucepan.


I like the style of the book but I don’t like the content (= the subject matter)

20. control - check

The ticket inspector checked our tickets


A good teacher should be able to control his class.

21. cook - cooker

A cook is somebody who cooks while a cooker is an apparatus he uses for that purpose.

22. actual - current - present

No, I’m not joking; those were her actual words.


TV news bulletins report current events.
Reagan and Clinton are former American presidents. Who is the present one?

23. destination - destiny

The parcel was sent to the wrong destination.


It was the great man’s destiny to lead his country to freedom.

24. discriminating - discriminatory

Discriminating (=showing good judgement in matters of taste) filmgoers applauded


Peter Greenaway’s latest movie while the average audience left the theatre disgusted.
The US has introduced undemocratic, discriminatory immigration laws.

25. disinterested - uninterested

The argument should be settled by someone wo is disinterested (= who will not gain
personally by deciding in favour of one side or the other ).
I am completely uninterested in football while I find basketball quite interesting.

26. impassioned - impassive

The defendant remained impassive as the judge sentenced him to death.(=without


emotion; showing no feeling)
Despite the counsel’s impassioned speech the jury returned the verdict of guilty.
(=filled with deep feelings ; usu. of speech ).

27. eatable - edible

The dinner we were served in that place was quite uneatable, with oversalted stew and
and underdone potatoes.
These mushrooms are edible but those are poisonous.
28. economic - economical

Some observers were critical of this government’s economic policy.


If you’ve got a large family it’s more economical to travel by car than by train –
railway tickets are rather expensive.

29. electricity - electrics

It’s hard to imagine our life without electricity.We wouldn’t be able to watch TV or
use the computer, to say nothing of driving a car or flying an airplane.
I don’t know why the car won’t start; perhaps it’s a problem in the electrics (=the wires
that work in an electrical apparatus ).

30. efficient - effective

Our efficient new machines are cheaper to run. (= working well and without waste).
The company announced they would start marketing an effective drug for hair loss.

31. exacerbate vs exasperate


Exacerbate and exasperate are two words that sound and look similar, but have very different
meanings.
Exacerbate means to make a bad situation worse, to intensify suffering or pain, to aggravate a
problem, to irritate.
Exasperate means to infuriate, to cause overwhelming irritation.

32. every one - everyone

Every one of his projects was a failure.


Everyone was present.

33. fictional - fictitious

Fictional tends to be used in talking about fiction in the sense of creative writing: Alice in
Wonderland is a fictional character created by the mathematician Charles Dodgson.
Fictitious tends to carry a negative connotation and is used to denote fiction associated with
dishonesty: The man used a fictitious CV to get the job.

34. flammable - inflammable - non-flammable

Petrol is highly inflammable (= flammable, which can easily be set on fire).


The situation is highly inflammable.
Ideally, clothes should be made of non-flammable material so that a person is less likely
to suffer burns in case of fire.

35. historic - historical

My son enjoys reading historical novels.


Man’s landing on the Moon was a historic event (= of great importance)

36. human - humane

The archeologists have found some human skeletons.


Electrocution is said to be a relatively humane method of killing(=one that causes the
least possible pain).

37. illustrative - illustrious

That incident was an illustrative example of his meanness.(=explaining, showing)


The illustrious name of Shakespeare is brought up whenever we discuss theatre.

38. ingenious - ingenuous

What an ingenious gadget! (=showing cleverness)


Only the most ingenuous (=naive; inexperienced) person would believe such a
feeble excuse.

39. intense - intensive

There was intense (=strong) competition between the rival companies to get the contract.
I find her exhausting to be with – she’s too intense(=has strong/serious feelings,opinions)
You should attend an intensive course in English.

40. impractical - impracticable

The idea sounds good but I’m afraid it’s impracticable. (=cannot be done in practice)
He seems to be an impractical person who can’t even boil an egg.

41. impressionable - impressive

The child is at an impressionable age. (= easy to influence, ready to admire other people)
In ‘Hamlet’ he gave an impressive performance which won him an Oscar award.
(=causing admiration)

42. accidental - incidental

The BBC World incidental music has been so popular with the viewers that it is now
available on CD.
You are allowed to claim incidental expenses of a business trip, such as taxi fares or food.
(=happening or existing in connection with sth else which is more important.)
I didn’t expect to see him there ; that was an accidental meeting.(=that happened by
chance)

43. accidentally - incidentally

I met him accidentally when crossing the border.


Incidentally(=by the way), he was a customs officer while I was smuggling weapons.

44. incredible - incredulous

When I said I’d just returned from Mars, she gave me an incredulous look.(=showing
disbelief).
That’s the most incredible coincidence I’ve heard of.(=unbelievable)
She has an incredible house. (=wonderful, unbelievably good)
45. indignity - indignation

I expressed my indignation(=surprised anger because of sth wrong/unjust) at being


unfairly dismissed.
I suffered the indignity of having to say I was sorry in front of all those people.
(=a situation /state that makes you feel ashamed or feel loss of respect).

46. industrial - industrious

Industrial relations refer to the relationship between the management and the workers
in an industry.
Japan’s economy has been a success because the Japanese are an industrious people.

47. infamous - famous

He was infamous for his evil acts. (= notorious, famous for sth bad)
His crimes were infamous.(=evil)

48. deficient - defective

Consuming large amounts of food deficient in iron will lead to anemia.(=lacking in,
not having enough of).
You have to raise your voice when talking to him ; his hearing is defective so he can’t
hear you.

49. later - latter

At first he denied all guilt but later made a partial confession.


If offered red or white wine, I’d choose the latter (=white wine)

The opposite of latter is former. The latter is the second of things or people mentioned.

50. live - alive

The cat was playing with a live mouse.


The mouse was alive.
The President’s speech was broadcast live.(=shown as it actually happened).

51. insure - ensure

You usually insure against future disaster by paying money to an insurance company.
Please ensure that the lights are switched off before leaving the building.(=make sure)

52. longing - craving - yearning (=strong desire for something)

A longing is a keen wish for sth that is remote but which one day may be attainable:
a longing for peace ; a longing for meeting with a loved one.
A craving is a sense of need, usually implying a kind of hunger:
a craving for a drink; a craving for affection.
A yearning is often a romantic longing: a yearning for home; a yearning to travel.

53. literary - literal

Booker Prize is one of the most coveted literary prizes. (of literature)
The literal meaning of ‘blue’ is a colour but it can also mean “unhappy”.
(= without metaphor, not figurative)

54. literacy - literature

An adult-literacy (=being able to read and write) campaign has been launched
following the report on rising illiteracy in this country.
English literature is the oldest in modern Europe.

55. momentary - momentous

Introducing a single currency was a momentous (=of great importance because of future
effects) decision for Europe.
She hesitated in momentary confusion. (=lasting for a very short time).

56. motif - motive

The motifs of sea and the great Mississipi river were always present in his poetry.
The motives for the murder were unclear.

57. hazard - gambling

There are many health hazards associated with smoking.(=a danger or risk)
Gambling , such as cards or horse races, can be addictive and lead to personal
misfortune.

58. lunatic - sleepwalker

A sleepwalker is somebody who gets up and walks about while asleep.


A lunatic is a person suffering from a mental illness or sb very foolish.

59. negligent - negligible

The report said the doctor had been negligent in not giving the woman a full
examination. (=not taking enough care)
I don’t think it’s worth claiming insurance. The damage to the car is negligible.
(= too slight or unimportant to be worth attention).

60. nervous - upset

I am always nervous when I have to speak in public. (=rather afraid)


Do what he wants or you’ll upset him. (= cause to be sad , angry or worried)

61. obligatory - obliging

If you are a member, attendance at the meeting is obligatory. (=compulsory)


When asked to provide more information, she was exceptionally obliging.
(=willing and ready to help)

62. paragon - receipt

He behaves as if he were a paragon of virtue but I could tell a thing or two about
him! (= seems to be a perfect model to copy)
Ask the shop for a receipt when you pay the bill.
63. pathetic - pompous / bombastic

My pathetic attempts to learn French had better be forgotten. (=żałosne)


The railway was a pompous little official, who thought he controlled the whole railway
system himself and who delighted in bombastic speeches.

64. perpetrate - perpetuate

They put up a statue to perpetuate her memory. (=so that she would always be
remembered).
A criminal is somebody who perpetrated a crime. (=is guilty of )

65. perspective - prospect - prospective

The picture looks strange because it has no perspective.


I don’t see much prospect of this being finished before Monday.(reasonable hope)
I don’t like the prospect of growing old. (=sth which is probable soon)
Prospective buyers might be discouraged by the exorbitant price. (=expected,intended)

66. physician - physicist


(lekarz) (fizyk)

67. pilot - remote control

A system for controlling machinery from a distance is called remote control and what you
call ‘pilot’ in this sense in Polish is a remote control unit or zapper (sl).

68. possibility - opportunity

‘ Is there any possibility you’ll be home for the weekend?’(=likelihood)


The general would not accept that defeat was a possibility.(=sth possible)
You should see that film if you get the opportunity. (a favourable moment,occasion)

69. invaluable - valuable - priceless

Things of great value are valuable or (much stronger) priceless :


This ancient gold chain isn’t just valuable – it’s priceless.
Invaluable does not refer to prices or money. It means ‘very useful indeed’.
Your advice proved invaluable to us on our journey.

70. respectful - respective

The two friends said goodbye and went to their respective homes.
The crowd stood in respectful silence as the funeral procession went by.

71. sympathetic - nice

The police were very sympathetic to my complaint about the noise but said
they could do nothing about it. (showing understanding, willing to listen to problems)
She was a very nice little girl. Everyone liked her.

72. legend - key


The key at the bottom of the map explains the various symbols used.

73. adequate - suitable

Rice-growing can only be successful if there is adequate rainfall.(=enough,sufficient)


Do you think this dress is suitable for tonight’s party, or is it too formal?

74. eventually - possibly

After travelling all day, they eventually (=finally) reached home at midnight.
He’s arriving on Tuesday, or possibly on Wednesday.

75. tasteless - distasteful

When ‘tasteless’ is used of food it means ‘having no taste’. When it is used of people it
means ‘having or showing bad taste’.
Distastful is not used in either of these meanings, but only of unpleasant things that
must be done : It is my distatsteful duty to warn you.

76. temporal - temporary

The Church has no temporal power in the modern world. (=related to practical affairs as
opposed to religious affairs ).
Students often find temporary jobs during summer holidays.

77. terrific - terrifying

We had a terrific time at the disco. (=excellent)


She drove at a terrific speed. (=very great in size or degree)
The thought of parachuting was terrifying to me.

78. principal - principle

My principal source of income is legal counselling. (=main, chief)


The Principal of the school refused to admit the boy.
One of the principles of this dictionary is that definitions should be in simple language.

79. handbook - manual - textbook

A handbook is a short bookgiving all the most important information about a subject.
A manual is a book giving informationabout how to do sth, esp. how to use a machine.
A textbook is a standard book for the study of a particular subject, esp.used in schools.

80. pension to nie pensja a emerytura.!

81. disposal - disposition

The neighbour left his car at my disposal, saying I could use it whenever I needed to.
Our daughter is well liked for her sunny disposition. (usposobienie)

82. project - design

A project is a piece of work that needs skill, effort and careful planning over a period
of time. In their geography class, the children are doing a special project on American
Indians.
Projekt (szkic budowy) to design, a projekt ustawy to draft.

83. base - basis (pl. bases)

the base of a mountain, the base of a statue....podstawa


a military base....baza
We made our decision on the basis of the report you sent us. (the principle or reason
which lies behind sth).
The changes have been introduced on a voluntary basis. (= the way sth is done or
organized).

84. unsatisfied - dissatisfied

You are unsatisfied when you have not had enough and want more.
You are dissatisfied when you are not pleased, not satisfied with e.g. service
They received many complaints from dissatisfied customers.

85. exhausting - exhaustive

This list of confusing words is by no means exhaustive (=including everything


possible).
Teaching young children can be exhausting. (=making sb very tired)

86. unreadable - illegible

The doctor’s handwriting is quite illegible (= difficult or impossible to read)


I’m sorry but I find “Syzyfowe prace” unreadable (=too dull to read)

87. misuse - disuse

These chemicals can be dangerous if misused (= used in a wrong way)


a disused railway line (= not used any more)

88. appliance - application

electrical appliance (urządzenie)


Applications for the job should be made to Personnel Manager. (=podanie)
The lecture was about the application of educational theory to the classroom.
(=zastosowanie, użytek)

89. expertise to nie ‘ekpertyza ‘a ‘znawstwo’, ‘biegłość’

90. data to nie ‘data’ a ‘dane’.

91. manifestation to nie ‘manifestacja’ a ‘dowód na coś’, ujawnienie się

92.confectionery to nie ‘konfekcja’, a ‘słodycze’

93. fabric to nie ‘fabryka’, a ‘tkanina’

94. obscure to nie ‘obskurny’ ,a ‘niejasny’, ‘nieznany’

95. pamphlet to nie ‘pamflet’, a ‘broszura’

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