Spelling

Confusing Pairs

There are a certain number of words where the spelling varies according to the part of speech, that is whether the word is a noun, a verb or, sometimes, an adjective. The commonest ones involve c in the noun and s in the verb.

noun

advice
device
licence
practice
prophecy

verb

advise
devise
license
practise
prophesy

In American English, s is commonly used for both noun and verb. American spelling also sometimes uses s where British spelling uses c.

American

defense
pretense
offense

British

defence
pretence
offence

Other commonly confused pairs:

You must choose which channel to watch.

He chose me the last time.

He's afraid they'll lose tomorrow.

That screw's a bit loose.

She's dependent on her parents.

She has an independent spirit.

The tax form asks for the number of dependants.

It's a matter of principle.

The principal star is the sun.

(But the Principal of the College, short for Principal Officer).

There are pens in the stationery cupboard.

The train was stationary at Platform 6.

And don't forget...

  • its (of it) & it's (it is)
  • their (of them) & there (yonder)
  • your (of you) & you're (you are)

Exercise

Complete the sentences below by tapping a word and then tapping the gap where the word belongs.

practice
practise
Reset

You'll never play the bassoon well if you don't           .

losing
loosing
license
licence
Reset

He was afraid of            his driving            after the accident.

practises
practices
principal
principle
Reset

I'm opposed to such barbaric            on           .

there
their
they're
Reset

Is that            house over           ?

advise
advice
choose
chose
Reset

My lawyer's            was to            the second option.

Check Results

University of Glasgow
Copyright © STELLA
stella@arts.gla.ac.uk