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English Vocabulary Exercises For Grade 7: Troublesome Word Pairs

Troublesome Word Pairs

There are some words in English that mean almost the same or are pronounced almost the same, but are actually entirely different from each other. This causes confusion among English users. Let us look at some of them:


We use for to show the length of time of the action. Since shows the time at which the action or the event began.

For example,
My father has worked with Mr. Tan for six years.
My father has worked with Mr. Tan since 1988.


Hanged refers to animate objects; hung refers to inanimate objects.

For example,
In the wild West, bandits were hanged if they were caught.
She hung little bells over the entrance of the temple.


Hard means “in a diligent and hardworking way.” Hardly means “scarcely.”

For example,
Like most doctors, Dr. Lim works hard.
He always passes although he hardly studies.


Late means “after the usual/assigned/appointed time”. Lately means “recently.”

For example,
He is always late for school.
Have you played in the band lately?


We use lay when we mean “to place or put.” However, we use lie when we mean “to recline or rest,” “pointing towards a certain direction,” or “not telling the truth.” Also lie is not followed by an object but lay is.

For example,
Please don’t lay (don’t put) that hot dish on the table.
He laid the newspaper on the floor.
My father was laying bricks in the backyard when the phone rang.
The church lies north of the town.
I want to lie down on the couch for a while.
Your dress is lying on the floor.
The accused man tried to lie about his past.


Live means to remain at a place for an extended period of time; stay means to remain at a place for a limited period.

For example,
The last time I visited Sydney, I stayed at the Hilton.
I live in Kuala Lumpur.


Most means “to the greatest or highest degree.” Mostly means “chiefly” or “mainly.”

For example,
Mr. Raymond is most kind.
My father’s friends are mostly engineers.


Principal is both an adjective, meaning “main”, and a noun, meaning the “leader”; principle refers to a fundamental rule.

For example,
Our principal export is tea.
He is the Principal of the college.
It is against my principle to check on him.


Quiet is an adjective meaning not noisy; quite is an adverb meaning fairly.

For example,
Be quiet!
You are quite right!


Rather means “little” or “slightly” and is commonly used before negative words such as “boring”, “awful”, “stupidly”, etc. while fairly is used before positive words such as “bravely”, “nicely”, “well”, etc.

For example,
The movie is rather boring.
We found our way fairly quickly.


We use rise when we mean “to go up or get up.” We use raise when we mean “to lift.” Rise is not followed by an object, but raise is.

For example,
The secretary rises to meet the chairman every time he enters.
The water is still rising.
She raises (grows) prize orchids.
The landlady raised (increased) the rent.
He is raising the blinds (pulling up) to let the sun in.


Rugged means “strong and simple, not delicate”; ragged means “not in a good condition, torn and uneven.”

For example,
Jeeps are rugged vehicles and can be used to travel over rough terrain.
The beggar was in ragged clothes.


Sit means to take a seat. Set means to place something or to put something down.

For example,
All the guests should sit here.
We will set up the tables and chairs for the guests.
Remember that sit is something the subject does himself or herself; set is something the subject does to another object.
For example,
I won’t sit down until you set down that book.


We use someone (something, somebody, etc.) in affirmative sentences; we use anyone (anything, anybody, etc.) in negative sentences.

For example,
There is someone at the gate.
There isn’t anyone at the gate.
She knows something about it.
She doesn’t know anything about it.


Stationary means not moving; stationery means writing materials.

For example,
The motorist reversed into a stationary van.
She bought a rubber and ruler at the stationery shop.


Still means “even up to the present time” and tells us that something is still happening. We usually use it before the main verb. Anymore tells us that an action has stopped. We usually use anymore at the end of a negative sentence.

For example,
She is still working as a clerk.
She isn’t working as a clerk anymore.

They are/there are

They in they are refers to things which have been mentioned; there are refers to things which are mentioned later in the sentence.

For example,
They are Peter’s.
There are two books on the table.

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