We all have them — words that baffle us, even when we use them all the time. I, for one, still have trouble with “lay” and “lie” and even remember getting an angry letter from a reader about my use of lay instead of lie (or was it the other way around?) when I was a newspaper reporter. The aptly named Confusing Words is a website that might come in handy for those times of confusion. It contains more than 3,000 words that people tend to have trouble with, and it accepts suggestions for more. The site was developed by the husband of a teacher, who had asked if there was some way to develop a system to help her students deal with common grammatical word errors.

Confusing Words is simple enough to use. Just type in a word that you find confusing, spelling it as best as you can (the site’s programming has some special tricks to finding words spelled close to the original). The site then gives you a list of words that might be confusing due to similar spelling or meanings, provides definitions, and then shows examples of how each word is used in proper context.

If nothing else, you should print the read-outs for the their/there/they’re and to/two/too helpers and pass them out to your students. Strunk and White will surely thank you.

Confusing Words

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