Sometimes you will come across words that look and sound very similar, that may even be used in similar ways. However, often times these words are used incorrectly. It is best to familiarize yourself with the proper usage of these words. The best way to approach these words is to understand the subtle differences between these words, and then practice forming sentences with them.
Here is a list of commonly confused words:
Aggravate vs. Irritate
Aggravate means to make an issue worse or more serious. For example:
As we have just received a noise complaint, I don't want anyone to aggravate the situation by turning up the music.
Irritate means to make someone annoyed or angry, or to cause discomfort. For example:
Stop poking me, you are being so irritating!
Allusion vs. Illusion
An allusion is a reference to something, often used in literary terms. For example:
In my essay, I made an allusion to the story of Sisyphus.
An illusion is a deceptive appearance.
Confused by the optical illusion of the dancer, I wasn't sure if the dancer was spinning to the left or to the right.
Ascent vs. Assent
Ascent means to go upwards or rise up. For example:
We will begin our ascent toward the peak of the mountain tomorrow morning.
Assent means to express approval or agreement. For example:
The student body president gave his assent to our proposal to ban fast food from the cafeteria.
Ascetic vs. Aesthetic
Ascetic means characterized by strong self-discipline. For example:
Leading an ascetic life as a yogi, Josie abstained from buying new clothes for a whole year.
Aesthetic means to be concerned about the appearance of something. For example:
As a body builder, he was mainly concerned with the aesthetics of his physical appearance.
Averse vs. Adverse
Averse means to have a strong dislike for something or to have a strong opposition to something. For example:
After getting food poisoning from mushrooms as a child, I am now averse to eating mushrooms.
Adverse means something that hinders success, something that is harmful or unfavorable. For example:
Due to adverse conditions, we could not continue our camping trip and had to make our way home.
If you would like to learn more about grammar, see the rest of our Grammar Yammer series.