Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

12 June, 2021

Some English words look similar but they have different meanings. Here is a selection of such words.
Comic / comical
As an adjective ‘comic’ means amusing.
Some people love to read comic novels.
‘Comic relief’ is a situation in a serious story that makes you relax a little because it is funny.
‘Comical’ means behaviour that is funny in a strange way.
Commensurate / consummate
‘Commensurate’ means matching something in size, quality or length of time.
Your salary will be commensurate with your qualifications and experience.
‘Consummate’ means to make something complete. It can also mean showing a lot of skill.
She won the race with consummate ease.
Compel / impel
‘Compel’ means to force someone to do something.
The children were compelled to learn the poem by heart.
When an idea or emotion impels you to do something, you feel very strongly that you should do it.
Norma felt impelled to make a written complaint to the management.
Complacent / complaisant
A complacent person is self-satisfied and a complaisant person is eager to please others and he will do anything to oblige.
There is a danger of becoming complacent if you win a few games.
Complement / compliment
‘Complement’ is the number or quantity needed to make a group completed.
The hospital has achieved its full complement of medical staff.
‘Compliment’ is a remark that expresses admiration of someone or something.
“You have lovely hair,” Charles told Emma who blushed at the compliment.
Complicated / complex
For all practical purposes they are synonyms. However, ‘complicated’ refers to something difficult to understand.
The new recruits received a complicated set of instructions.
‘Complex’ means consisting of many different parts or processes that are closely connected.
There is a complex network of roads in London.
Comply / conform
Although they are synonyms, ‘comply’ is followed by the preposition ‘with’ and ‘conform’ with ‘to.’
Jack always complied with the regulations.
The quality of the product conformed to the highest standards.
Compose / comprise
‘Compose’ means to form a group of substances or parts.
Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.
‘Comprise’ also means to consist of particular parts.
Each apartment comprises two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room.
The city’s population largely consist of permanent residents, migrant workers and those who travel daily from suburbs.
Compulsive / compulsory
Compulsive behaviour is often a sign of a mental problem.
Compulsive spending is often a symptom of deep unhappiness.
Something that is compulsory must be done.
In Britain, education is compulsory between the ages of five and 16.
Concave / convex
‘Concave’ means curving inwards like a cave. ‘Convex’ means curving outwards.
Concede / accede
‘Concede’ means to admit that something is true.
“You could be right I suppose,” Nancy conceded.
‘Accede’ means to agree to a demand especially after first disagreeing with it.
The Government would not accede to public pressure.
Confident / confidant / confidante
To be confident is to be certain of yourself. A ‘confidant’ is a trusted person. The feminine form is ‘confidante.’
Jane is very confident about using computers.
Conscience / conscious / conscientious
‘Conscience’ is the part of your mind that tells you whether what you are doing is morally right or wrong.
You should be guided by your conscience.
‘Conscious’ means noticing or realising something.
Edna was very conscious of the fact that she had to make a good impression at the party.
‘Conscientious’ means showing a lot of care and attention.
If you are a conscientious and methodical worker, you will have a good future.