Common Confusion, Part 2

Spelling Changes Everything!

Here are some words that sound alike or are spelled almost the same—yet they have completely different meanings.

  • effect = the result (noun)
  • affect = changing or altering something (verb)

What will be the effect of this new technique?

Will this technique affect the experiment?

Hint: Simple—affect is the verb, so think A for Action (verb).


  • accept = to take or receive
  • except = to leave out, everything but one

I will accept this gift with honor.

Amy ate every part of dinner except the carrots.

Hint: Remember that ex is like X or Xing out something just like except means to leave out something.


  • lose = to not win
  •         = to misplace
  • loose = not tight, easy to take off

If they lose this game, it will be the first defeat this season.

“Do not lose those car keys,” Fred told me.

This lid is loose, so be careful the juice doesn’t spill.

Hint: One or two o’s? Well, lose already lost one o, and lose means to not win or misplace something, just like losing that o.


  • principle = a rule or ideal
  • principal = the administrator and boss of a school

Many different religions actually teach the same principles.

Our principal makes announcements in our school each morning.

Hint: Why mess with a classic? Remember the old saying: Your principal is your pal!


  • lead = to go first (verb in present tense, pronounced leed)
  • lead = a soft gray metal (noun, pronounced led)
  • led = to go first (verb in past tense)

“I will lead the way to victory,” declared our soccer coach.

They used to put lead in pencils but now they use graphite.

The museum guide led us on a special tour of the Egyptian exhibit.

Hint: This one is tough because the noun lead is pronounced and sounds the same as led the verb. Also, lead the verb is spelled the same as lead the noun, but they are pronounced differently. There’s no great way to remember all this, but try to whisper this silly sentence to yourself if in doubt:

The hero said he would lead us to gold but instead he led us to lead.

There you have it! A few rules, some handy hints, and another month of learning!

< Common Confusion, part 1

Mixing up certain words is easy to do, but then what we write is wrong. …

Commas — A Big Hint >

Commas cause a lot of problems, both because we do not always know exactly where…