The Importance of Knowing Confusing Words

There are lots of confusing words in the English language. These are words which sound the same but spelt differently. Knowledge of these and other grammar rules is so important in IELTS listening and writing tests.

Some of these words are:

practise (verb) / practice(noun)


I practise a lot for the competition.

I need more practices to win.

Practise in the first sentence is used as a verb and therefore, the verb form must be used.

In the second sentence, practice is used as a direct object. As a test, try to ask using the verb in the question followed by interrogative pronoun WHAT. In sentence 2, it would be "need what?. The answer to the question should either be a noun or pronoun in the objective case (me, you, them, her, him, us). Thus, practice is the right word not the other.

advise (verb) / advice (noun)


My friend advised me to take the test next month. (verb of the sentence)

His advice was well taken. (subject of the sentence)

So what is the significance of knowing these kind of words? Imagine in listening test, you heard the words advice, practice or other confusing words. But if any of these words was used in context as a verb and you wrote the noun form instead, then your answer is wrong.

It really helps to try to familiarize yourself with these confusing words and their usage.

Other examples

where: (v) is for verb, (n) is for noun,(adj.) for adjective and (adv.) for adverb

device (n) - a tool or gadget for a specific use; devise (v)- to create; plan

brake (n)- something used for stopping or slowing down; break (n)- to separate or disintegrate; to give opportunity

cite (v)- to mention or give credit; Site (n)- a location or a spot; sight(n)- vision

here (adv) - at this time in a place; hear (v)- to listen to or perceive sound.

hoard (v)- to amass or to accumulate; horde (n)- a flock, a group, or a multitude

hole (n)- an opening, gap or puncture; whole(adj) - complete, entire or full

stationary (adj.) - not moving, at a stop; stationery (n)- a type of paper for writing

waist (n)- body part; waste (n)- garbage

weak (adj)- not strong; week (n)- a period of time

Please note though that the specific usage (noun, verb etc.) given in each word is based on the definition. There are noun forms which become verbs or vice versa depending on how they are used in a sentence.


In the above words, the word waste is mentioned as a noun. However, it can also be a verb.

Verb: He wastes a lot of time by doing nothing.

noun: He works for a company that collects household wastes.

More of these words.

Lose, Loss, Loose

add insult

Avoid silly mistakes! Avoid penalty points!

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