Common mistakes in English – Confused words (Part 2)

                      Verbs often confused

396. Shall and Will

(a) To express simple futurity

In the first person:

Don’t say: I will go tomorrow if it’s fine.

√ Say: I shall go tomorrow if it’s fine.

In the second person:

Don’t say: She tells me you shall go tomorrow.

√ Say: She tells me you will/’ll go tomorrow.

In the third person:

Don’t say: He shall go if he has permission.

√ Say: He will/’ll go if he has permission.

(b) To express something more than simple futurity

In the first person:

Don’t say: I have determined that I shall go.

√ Say: I have determined that I will/’ll go.

In the second person:

Don’t say: You will/’ll go out if you are good.

√ Say: You shall go out if you are good.

In the third person:

Don’t say: My mind is made up: he will/’ll go.

√ Say: My mind is made up: he shall go.

To form the simple future, use shall with the first person and will with the second and third persons. Will in the first person denotes resolution or personal determination, and shall in the second and third persons denotes either a command or a promise.

Note: Should, the past tense of shall, and would, the past tense of will, have the same differences of meaning and use os the present forms shall and will –> I was afraid that I should fail, I promised that I would help him.

397. Shall and May

Distinguish between:

(a) May I shut the door? and

(b) Shall I shut the door?

“May I shut the door?” means that I wish the door closed and I ask your permission to shut it “Shall I shut the door?” means that I want to know whether you wish the door closed.

398. Say and Tell

Don’t say: He told “I will/’ll go home.”

                   He told that he’d go home.

√  Say: He said “I will/’ll go home.”

             He said that he’d go home.

Use to say : (1) when referring to a person’s actual words, and (2) in indirect speech if the sentence doesn’t contain an indirect object.

Note: Common idiom with say and tell

Say a prayer. Who says? I must say!  You can say that again. It you say so: Tell the truth, Tell a lie ,Tell a story, Tell the time, Tell your fortune, Tell someone your name

399. Make and Do

(a) Make

Don’t say: The carpenter did a large table.

✓ Say: The carpenter made a large table.

(b) Do

Don’t say: You must make your work carefully.

√  Say: You must do your work carefully.

To make primarily means to construct or manufacture something while to do means to accomplish a thing

Note: Common exceptions with make and do

(a) To make a mistake, to make a promise, to make a speech, to make an excuse, to make haste, to make fun of, to make progress, to make a noise, to make a bed (= to prepare the bed for steeping on)

(b) To do good, to do evil, to do your best, to do your duly, to do someone a favor, to do wrong, to do a puzzle, to do business, to do away with, to do gymnastics, to do exercises.

400. Lie and Lay

(a) Lie

Don’t say: I’m going to lay down for an hour.

✓ Say: I’m going to lie down for an hour.

(b) Lay

Don’t say: Please lie the exam papers on the desk.

✓ Say: Please lay out the exam papers on the desk.

Lie (= to rest) in an intransitive verb and never has an object.

Lay (= to put) is a transitive verb and always requires an object.

Their principal parts are lie, lay, lain, and lay, laid, laid

Note: Lie, lied, lied is to tell an untruth –> He has lied to me. Lay, laid, laid also means to produce eggs –> The hen has laid an egg (Idiom: Lay the table is to prepare the table for a meal.)

401. Sit and Seat

(a) Sit

Don’t say: We seat at a desk to write a letter.

✓ Say: We sit at a desk to write a letter.

(b) Seat

Don’t say: He sat the passengers one by one.

✓ Say: He seated the passengers one by one.

Use sit as an intransitive verb. Seat is a transitive verb and requires an object.

Very often the object of seat is a reflexive pronoun –> He seated himself near the file.

The principal parts of the two verbs are: sit, sat, sat, and seat, seated, seated.

Note: Don’t confuse sit with set which usually means to place

Common idioms with set: to set the table, to set on fire, to set off (or out) to set a trap, to set a dock, to set a price, to set your heart on, to set free, to set an example, to set a broken bone, to set to work (= to start work)

402. Rise and Raise

(a) Rise

Don’t say: Val raises very early in the morning.

✓ Say: Val rises very early in the morning.

(b) Raise

Don’t say: She rose their salaries too often.

✓ Say: She raised their salaries too often.

Rise is an intransitive verb and means to go up, stand up, or get out of bed. It doesn’t require an object

Raise is a transitive verb and means to lift up something. Their principal parts are rise, rose, risen, and raise, raised, raised

Note: Arise is often used for rise but it is better to use only in the sense of begin –> A quarrel (= a discussion, an argument, a difficulty, etc.) may arise.

This is formal but is still used

403. Like and Love

Don’t say: I like you! Will you marry me?

✓ Say: I love you! Will you marry me?

Both verbs can be used for people and things the only difference is one of degree –> Love is much stronger than like.

404. Stay and Remain

(a) Stay

Don’t say: We remained in a very good hotel.

✓ Say. We stayed in a very good hotel.

(b) Remain

Don’t say: Not many figs have stayed on the tree.

✓ Say: Not many figs have remained on the tree.

Here, to stay means to live for a short time as a guest or a visitor, and to remain means to be left after part has been taken or destroyed.

Note: Use either verb when the meaning is to continue in the same place or condition –> I’ll stay (or remain) at here till tomorrow. Remain is more formal.

405. Hanged and Hung

(a) Hanged

Don’t say: No-one has been hung in Britain since 1964.

✓  Say: No-one has been hanged in Britain since 1964.

(b) Hung

Don’t say: We hanged the picture on the wall.

✓ Say: We hung the picture on the wall.

When the reference is to killing a person or animal by hanging, we use the form hanged. In other cases, the form is hung. The principal parts of the two verbs are hang, hanged, hanged and hang, hung, hung.

406. Wear and Put on

(a) Wear

Don’t say: Kathy always puts on black shoes.

✓  Say: Kathy always wears black shoes.

(b) Put on

Don’t say: I wear my clothes in the morning.

✓  Say: I put on my clothes in the morning.

Wear means to have upon the body as a garment or as an ornament.

To put on denotes a simple act.

Note: To dress has nearly the same meaning as to put on, but the object of dress is a person and not a thing –> He dressed himself and went out. The mother dressed her baby.

407. Tear and Tear up

(a) Tear

Don’t say: John tore up his coat on a nail.

✓  Say: John tore his coat on a nail.

(b) Tear up

Don’t say: Philip was angry and tore the letter.

✓ Say: Philip was angry and tore up the letter.

To tear means to divide along a straight or irregular line, sometimes by oden.

To tear up means to destroy by tearing to pieces.

Note: The word up is often used with verbs to express the idea of greater completeness: burn up, drink up, dry up, cut up, eat up, shut up, use up

408. Grow and Grow up

(a) Grow

Don’t say: These flowers grow up very quickly.

✓ Say: These flowers grow very quickly.

(b) Grow up

Don’t say: When I grow I’ll be a doctor.

✓ Say: When I grow up I’ll be a doctor.

To grow means to become bigger.

To grow up means to become an adult.

Note: Other meanings of grow

(1) to occur natural / in the ground face grow in Egypt

(2) to cause to grow –> We grow flowers in our garden.

(3) to allow to grow –> He grew a beard.

(4) to become –> The nights grow cold in winter.

409. Pick and Pick up

(a) Pick

Don’t say: We picked up flowers in the garden.

✓ Say: We picked flowers in the garden.

(b) Pick up

Don’t say: The naughty boy picked a stone.

✓ Say: The naughty boy picked up a stone.

To pick fruit or flowers means to pull them away with the fingers.

To pick up means to lift up from the ground.

The important element is that what is picked up isn’t attached

410. Deal with and Deal in

(a) Deal with

Don’t say: This book deals in common errors.

✓ Say: This book deals with common errors.

(b) Deal in.

Don’t say: A bookseller deals with books.

✓ Say: A bookseller deals in books.

To deal with means to have to do with.

To deal in means to buy and sell.

Note: To deal with also means to take action on a matter –> The headmaster will deal with that question.

411. Interfere in and Interfere with

(a) Interfere in

Don’t say: Don’t interfere with my private business!

✓ Say: Don’t interfere in my private business!

(b) Interfere with

Don’t say: Paul is always interfering in the equipment.

✓ Say: Paul is always interfering with the equipment.

Interfere in means to concern yourself with something which you shouldn’t.

Interfere with means to do some damage or be a nuisance to someone or something.

412. Borrow and Lend

(a) Borrow

Don’t say: 1 want to lend a book from you.

✓ Say: I want to borrow a book from you.

(b) Lend

Don’t say: Will you please borrow me a book?

✓ Say: Will you please lend me a book?

To borrow is to get something from someone.

To lend is to give something to someone.

413. Steal and Rob

(a) Steal

Don’t say: Someone has robbed all her money.

✓ Say: Someone has stolen all her money.

(b) Rob

Don’t say: Some men stole a bank last night.

✓ Say: Some men robbed a bank last night.

The object of steal is the thing taker by the thief, such as money a watch, a bicycle, etc while the object of rob is the person or place from whom (or which) the thing is taken, such as a man, a house, or a bank

414. Take revenge and Avenge

Don’t say: I must avenge myself for what he did to me!

✓ Say: I must take revenge for what he did to me!

Note: Avenge and revenge oneself ace now only found in literary English. We usually use take revenge (on). We might also say “He must have his revenge.”

415. Convince and Persuade

Don’t say: I am persuaded of Robin’s innocence.

✓ Say: I am convinced of Robin’s innocence.

Persuade and convince have very similar meanings and are mostly interchangeable in modern English. –> Delia persuaded me to take the exam = Delia convinced me to take the exam. Except in the case of to be convinced of something meaning to believe something.

Note: Care must be taken not to confuse persuade with pursued, the past tense of pursue (= to follow)

416. Refuse and Deny

(a) Refuse

Don’t say: Sarah denied to take the money.

✓ Say: Sarah refused to take the money.

(b) Deny

Don’t say: John refused that he’d done it.

✓ Say: John denied that he‘d done it.

To refuse means not to take what is offered or not to do what one is asked to do.

To deny means to answer in the negative or to say that a statement isn’t true.

417. Discover and Invent

(a) Discover

Don’t say: America was invented by Columbus.

✓ Say: America was discovered by Columbus.

(b) Invent

Don’t say: Edison discovered the gramophone.

✓ Say: Edison invented the gramophone.

To discover is to find that which ousted before but was unknown.

To invent is to create that which didn’t exist before.

418. Take place and Take part

(a) Take place

Don’t say: The meeting will take part soon.

✓ Say: The meeting will take place soon.

(b) Take part

Don’t say: I’ll take place in the meeting.

✓ Say: I’ll take part in the meeting.

To take place means to happen or to be held.

To take part means to be involved in.

419. Made from and Made of

(a) Made from

Don’t say: The bowl is made of glass.

✓ Say: The bowl is made from glass.

(b) Made of

Don’t say:The statue is made from marble.

✓ Say: The statue is made of marble.

We usually use of when you can still recognize the original material.

We use from when the original materials are unrecognizable ta most cases either is possible.

420. Let for Rent and Hired out tor Hire

(a) Rent

Don’t say: I let the house from Mr Jones.

✓ Say: I rent the house from Mr Jones.

Note: To rent something is t0 pay to use it, usually for a long period of time: a house, a car, a piano etc.

To let something is to allow someone to pay you for the use of something that belongs to you

(b) Hire

Don’t say: I hired out a surf board when 1 was in America.

✓ Say: I hired a surf board when I was in America.

Note: To hire something is to pay to use it, usually for a short time, with one single payment: a suit, a bicycle, a rowing boat, etc.

To hire out is to offer something for someone else to hire.

421. Win for Earn

Don’t say: She wins her living by hard work.

✓ Say: She earns her living by hard work.

To earn means to receive in return for work.

To win is to obtain as a result of fighting, competition, gaming, etc.

Note: The verb to gain may be used with either meaning to gain one’s living or to gain a victory, a prize, etc.

422. Substitute for Replace with

Don’t say: They substituted gold with paper money.

✓ Say: They replaced gold with paper money.

We replace one thing with another, but we substitute one thing for another. The two phrases mean the reverse of each other –> You replace gold with paper money. You substitute paper money for gold.

423. Correct for Repair or Mend

Don’t say: Some men are correcting the road.

✓ Say: Some men are repairing the road.

To correct is to make something right to correct mistakes, a composition, a translation, one’s pronunciation, etc.

To repair is to mend is to put in good conation after being damaged: to repair or mend a road, clothes, shoes, etc.

Note: To repair a watch is to put it in good condition again, but to correct a watch is to set it to the right time.

424. Dust for Cover with dust

Don’t say: A sandstorm dusted our clothes.

✓ Say: A sandstorm covered our clothes with dust.

To dust doesn’t mean to cover with dust, but to remove dust from –> After sweeping, she dusted the furniture.

425. Please for Ask or Thank

Don’t say: I pleased him to do me a favor; or I pleased him for his lovely present.

✓ Say: I asked him to do me a favor and I thanked him for his lovely present.

To please means to give pleasure to  –> I worked hard to please my teacher.

426. Could for Was able to

Don’t say: Because Laura worked hard she could finish the job in time.

✓ Say: Because Laura worked hard she was able to finish the job in time.

If the meaning managed to or succeeded in doing, use was able to, and not could

427. Learn for Teach

Don’t say: Graham learned us how to play hockey.

✓ Say: Graham taught us how to play hockey.

Teach means to give instruction, learn means to receive instruction –> He taught me English, and I learned it quickly.

428. Win or Beat

Don’t say: We’ve always won your team.

✓ Say: We’ve always beaten your team.

To win is to get something you wanted.

To beat is to overcome an opponent. –> The girls beat the boys, and won the prize.

Remember: the principal parts of each verb: beat, beat, beaten and win, won, won.

429. Accept for Agree

Don’t say: The teacher accepted to go with us.

✓ Say: The teacher agreed to go with us.

Accept means to take something that is offered to you –> Maria accepted the bunch of flowers. It also means to believe something you’re to told –> Ken accepted his explanation.

Agree to means to do what one is asked to do –> David agreed to come to London on Monday, but agree with means to have the same opinion as someone else –> The Long family never agree with each other.

Note: We agree with a person, but to a thing I agree with Luke, but I can’t agree to this plan.

430. Leave for Let

Don’t say: Penny didn’t leave me to get my book.

✓ Say: Penny didn’t let me get my book.

Let means to allow

Leave means to abandon or to go away from –> Do you leave your books at school?

431. Bring for Take

Don’t soy: The astronauts are bringing plants to the moon.

✓ Say: The astronauts are taking plants to the moon.

Using bring or take depends on where the speaker or does is. We use bring for things coming to where we are and take for things going somewhere else –> Take these cakes to your grandmother and bring (back) some flowers from her garden.

Note: To fetch means to go somewhere else and come back with something –> Please fetch me a glass of water (= g0 and come back with a glass of water)

432. Drown for Sink

Don’t say: The ship drowned in the ocean.

✓ Say: The ship sank in the ocean.

To be drowned refers to living things and means to die in water.

To sink refers to people or things, and means to go down to the bottom of water.

133. See for Look

Don’t say: Neil was seeing out of the window.

✓ Say: Neil was looking out of the window.

To see is to notice with the eyes, but to look is to direct the eyes in order to see –> I looked up and saw the plane.

434. Hear for Listen

Don’t say: I was hearing her CDs.

✓ Say: I was listening to her CDs.

To listen to may also mean to think carefully about what someone says –> Gerry always listens to his mother.

435. Remember for Remind

Don’t say: Please remember me to give it back.

✓ Say: Please remind me to give it back.

To remember is to have in mind –> I remember what you told me.

To remind is to make a person remember something.

436. Leave for Let go

Don’t say: Leave the other end of the string.

✓ Say: Let go of the other end of the string.

Leave isn’t usually used in the sense of let go but you will hear the idiom leave go in very informal English to mean let go.

437. Sleep for Go to Bed

Don’t say: I’ll sleep early tonight.

✓ Say: I’ll go to bed early tonight.

To get to bed denotes the act of lying down on a bed in preparation for going to sleep. We can say that a person went to bed at nine o’clock, but that he didn’t sleep until eleven o’clock then he slept soundly.

Go to sleep means to fall asleep –> He went to sleep while he was in the cinema.

438. Be found for Be

Don’t say: The man was found in his office.

✓ Say: The man was in his office.

In English, the verb be found generally means be discovered –> Diamonds are found in Africa and in India. Therefore, he was found in his office would suggest that the man had hidden himself in his office and was later discovered.

439. Be with for Have

Don’t say: My English book is with my brother.

✓ Say My brother has my English book.

Avoid using be with in the sense of have

Be with means to be together or in company of –> He is with his parents.

440. Take for Get

Don’t say: Clare took a good mark in chemistry.

✓ Say: Clare got a good mark in chemistry.

To take means to obtain something intentionally or by force –> I took a book from the library. The army took the city.

To get or to receive means to obtain something which is given such as a gift, a letter, money, or a mark in an exam

441. Like for Want, etc.

Don’t say: Do you like to see my collection?

✓ Say: Do you want to see my collection?

Do you like to do something? means do you enjoy doing it as a habitual action.

Do you want to do something? means do you wish to do it now.

Note: I would/’d like means I want

I would/’d like (= I want) to play tennis today

Would you like (= do you want) to go for a walk with me? –> Would/’d like is more polite than want.

442. Know for Learn, etc.

Don’t say: Dan went to school to know English.

✓ Say: Dan went to school to learn English.

Use know when learning is finished –> She knows how to swim. Similarly, avoid using know to mean find out or realize.

443. Read for Study

Don’t say: Lucy is reading algebra in her room.

✓ Say: Lucy is studying algebra in her room.

To study means to try to learn, to read doesn’t imply any effort. A student studies English, Maths, history and other subjects, he/she reads a story, a letter or a newspaper –> She is reading for a degree is also correct.

444. Learn for Study

Don’t say: Kevin is learning at Gordon College.

✓ Say: Kevin is studying at Gordon College.

The express on I learn at (Gordon College, etc.) is incorrect. Say I study at (Gordon College, etc) or I am a student at (Gordon College, etc.)

445. Take for Buy

Don’t say: I went to the baker’s to take bread.

✓ Say: I went to the baker’s to buy bread.

Never use take in the sense of buy

446. Take out for Take off

Don’t say: Chris took out his hat and coat.

✓ Say: Chris took off his hat and coat.

The opposite of put on is take off, and not take out.

447. Leave for Give up, etc.

Don’t say: I’ve now left football.

✓ Say: I’ve now given up football.

Or: I’ve now stopped playing football.

Never use leave in the meaning of give up or stop something

448. Sympathize for Like

Don’t say: I don’t sympathize him very much.

✓ Say: I don’t like him very much.

Sympathize isn’t synonymous with like.

To sympathize with means to share some feeling (usually of sorrow) with another person –> I sympathize with you in your sorrow.

449. Put for Keep

Don’t say: Do you put your money in the bank?

✓ Say: Do you keep your money in the bank?

It’s better to use keep for a more or less permanent resting place, and put for a temporary one

450. Care about, Care for for Take care of

Don’t say: Oliver cares about (cares for) his brother’s investments.

✓ Say: Oliver takes care of his brother’s investments.

Care about means to like and be concerned about something or someone.

Take care of means to look after someone or something –> You should take care of your children, or do something to remedy a problem. I think I should take care of that broken pane of glass.

Care for means to look after –> I cared for you when you were ill. Care for can also means to be fond of someone or something –> William really cares for geraniums, though this use is rather old-fashioned.

Note: Avoid also such expressions as:

(1) He doesn’t care for my advice.

(2) He doesn’t care for his work.

(3) He took no care of him.

(4) No one cared for him during his illness

451. Let for Make (= to force)

Don’t say: The examiner let me sit quietly until everyone had finished.

✓ Say: The examiner made me sit quietly until everyone had finished.

Don’t use let, in the sense of make, meaning to force

452. Flown for Flowed

Don’t say: The river has flown over its banks.

✓ Say: The river has flowed over its banks.

Flown is the past participle of fly, the past participle of flow (= to move as water) is flowed. The principal pars of the two verbs are fly, flew, flown and flow, flowed, flowed.

Note: Flee, fled, fled is formal but we still use it to mean to run away –> We flee from danger

Float, floated, floated means to stay on the surface of water or other liquid –> Ships float on the wafer.

453. Fall for Fell

Don’t say: John fall clown and broke his leg.

✓ Say: John fell down and broke his leg.

The post tense of this verb is fell, not fall. It’s principal parts are fall, fell, fallen.

Note: Fell, felled, felled means to knock or cut down –> The wood-cutter felled a large tree.

454. Found for Find

Don’t say: Rosie tried to found her lost book.

✓ Say: Rosie tried to find her lost book.

To find is a very common verb meaning to get back a thing lost. It’s principal parts find, found, found

Note: There is. however, another verb to found, meaning to establish –> He founded the school fifty years ago.

            Use of will and shall

I’ll/will/shall               You’ll/will                 He/she/it’ll/will

We’ll/will/shall           You’ll/will                 They’ll/will

The short form ’ll can be used for both will and shall

We usually use the long form in writing and the short in speech, but when we are writing informally we also use the short form.

The future auxiliary will has several different meanings:

1. It can be used for things which we expect to happen

Example: He (’ll) will speak to you about it tomorrow.

2. It can be used as a conditional with an if or whether clause

Example: Jane will give you a lift if you need one.

3. We use will or shall for requests and offers

Example: Will you help me sort out these books?

4. When will is stressed it often means that someone insists on or persists in doing something

Example: Barry will keep handing in his homework late.

5. Shall is always used in the first person in the question form

Example: Shall I leave the door open? Shall we have lunch now?

6. Shall is sometimes used in modern English with the first person (I or we) when we are speaking or writing formally

Example:  We shall never forget your kindness.

Shall isn’t generally used in other contexts nowadays, though it used to be quite common.

Common mistakes in English – Confused words (Part 2)
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