Easily confused words – Quiz 1

Magnifying glass over Macmillan Learner's Dictionary
Macmillan Learner’s Dictionary – photo by Barney

There are many words in English that learners get confused. Sometimes this is because the two English words are very similar. Sometimes this is because an English word looks or sounds  similar to a word in your language but has a different meaning.  This second type is called a false friend.

This is how to do the quiz.

Each question has a pair of easily confused words and two sentences. One of the sentences uses the word incorrectly and should use the other word. You have to decide which sentence is incorrect.

Look at this example.

firstly / at first

a) I’ve divided my presentation into three parts. At first, I’m going to talk about the company. Then, I’m going to show you our production process. And finally, I’m going introduce our new product.

b) At first, I thought it was a hardware problem but now I can see it’s a problem with the software.

In this case sentence a) is incorrect. We use at first to indicate the situation at the beginning that often then changes. Firstly means the first of a set of items such as the parts of a presentation.

So, sentence a) should be: I’ve divided my presentation into three parts. Firstly, I’m going to talk about the company.

Test yourself. You can put your answers or any questions for us in the comments at the bottom of this page. Don’t forget you can use a dictionary to help.

Easily confused words – Quiz 1

  1. economic / economical

a) I have a hybrid car. It’s very economical.

b) The economical situation in the UK has declined since Brexit.


  1. take over / overtake

a) We plan to take over one of our small European competitors.

b) I couldn’t take over the car in front because the road was very narrow.


  1. special / specific

a) Can you go to the shops for me? This recipe requires a special type of cheese and I don’t have any.

b) This is a very special whisky. You can only buy it directly from the distillery.


  1. summarise / resume

a) Before I finish, I’d like to resume the main points of my presentation.

b) Let’s have some lunch. Don’t forget, lessons resume at two o’clock.


  1. profit / benefit

a) Last year we made a big benefit from selling our UK division.

b) The main benefit of moving our company headquarters to Ireland is the low corporation taxes.


Come back next week to see the answers.

By the team


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