Confusable words | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

5 September, 2021

Some English words appear to be similar but they have different meanings. Here is a collection of such words.
Facility / faculty
‘Facility’ is a natural ability to do something easily and well.
Brenda has an amazing facility for languages.
‘Faculty’ means a natural ability to see, hear, or think clearly.
Rosy has a great faculty for absorbing information.
Factual / fictitious
‘Factual’ means based on facts or relating to facts
Try to keep your account of events as factual as possible.
‘Fictitious’ means not true, or not real.
The stranger gave me a fictitious address.
Faint / feint
‘Faint’ means difficult to see, hear or smell something.
I heard a very faint noise.
‘Feint’ means to pretend to hit someone in boxing.
Fallacy / misconception
A fallacy is a false idea or belief, especially one that a lot of people believe is true.
A misconception is an idea which is wrong or untrue, but which people believe because they do not understand the subject properly.
There is a popular misconception that too much exercise is bad for you.
Farther / further
‘Farther’ is used exclusively to express distance either literally or figuratively.
Rex guessed that Kandy was farther from Colombo than Kegalle.
‘Further’ means in addition.
A lot of students leave for Australia for further education.
Fatal / fated
‘Fatal’ means causing or resulting in death
A well-known film star met with a fatal accident recently.
‘Fated’ means doomed.
Norma was fated to spend her last years in a home for the aged.
Ferment / foment
‘Ferment’ is a situation of great excitement or trouble in a country, especially caused by political change.
In the 1960s, American society was in ferment.
‘Foment’ means to cause trouble and make people start fighting each other or opposing the Government.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna was accused of fomenting a rebellion.
Fervent / fervid
‘Fervent’ means believing or feeling something very strongly and sincerely.
Max was a fervent supporter of human rights.
‘Fervid’ means believing or feeling something too strongly.
However, it suggests a heightened, more passionate fervour.
Few / little
‘Few’ indicates a small number of people or things.
I am going to buy a few things at the supermarket.
‘Little’ means not much.
There is now little hope of success for those who went on strike asking for higher salaries.
Fiance / fiancée
‘Fiance’ is the man who a woman is going to marry.
‘Fiancee’ is the woman who a man is going to marry.
Fictional / fictitious
Something fictional relates to a fiction.
Something fictitious is untrue or not genuine.
Fictional characters are mostly found in novels.
Fill in / fill out
When you fill in something, you insert.
Brian filled in the application form and handed it over to the receptionist.
When you fill out something, you add or complete it.
John filled out his speech with spicy anecdotes.
Finish / finalise
‘Finish’ means to complete something but ‘finalise’ is to settle something or to reach an agreement. The minister finalised the amendment but the agreement was far from finished.
Fish / fishes
Both words are used as the plural form of ‘fish.’ However, ‘fishes’ nowadays appears infrequently.
Flagrant / blatant
‘Flagrant’ means shocking and outrageous, but ‘blatant’ means glaringly obvious.
There are flagrant violations of human rights in certain countries. There was blatant discrimination against black people in South Africa.