Are you confusing these 10 soundalike word pairs?

Some are indistinguishable when spoken, and some are forms of the same root. In writing, it’s essential that you keep them distinct. Here’s some help.

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1. affect / effect

These two words have specialized meanings in psychology, but in ordinary speech and writing, affect is most often used as a verb meaning “to act on or to cause a change” and effect as a noun meaning “a change that is the result of some action”:

How will the move to New Orleans affect the family? (verb)

What is the effect of this move on the children? (noun)

Note: Effect can also be used as a verb meaning “to cause” or “to bring about”:

The new mayor has effected positive change in the police department.

2. advice / advise

The error with this pair commonly results from mispronunciation and failure to distinguish between a noun and a verb. The c in advice is pronounced with the sound of /s/. The s in advise is pronounced with the sound of /z/.

Advice is a noun meaning “recommendation regarding a decision.” Advise is a verb meaning “to counsel”:

She always gives me good advice. (noun)

What do you advise me to do? (verb)

3. aisle / isle

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