Sometimes, we thought our ears are lying to us, the way we misunderstood words that are spelled or sounded the same (homonyms) but when used grammatically, a realization hits us like,

“This word doesn’t make sense at all, am I reading it wrong?”

English is tricky just like the rest of the languages worldwide. I’m pretty sure, you have encountered words that made you think twice!

Here are some common words that cause mix-ups with our sentence structure most of the time.


At times, we compose our sentences in a rush, not checking the words we have written, and end up mixing these two words pitifully. I am a victim as well.

Your is a second person possessive adjective, if you want to show ownership of something, this is the appropriate word to use.

Example: Your English grammar is improving.

You’re spelled with an apostrophe is a short term for the phrase “you are”, a contraction.

Example: You’re improving in English grammar.

  • ITS/IT’S

Cheer up! It’s an extremely common mistake, watch out for these two.

Its is a possessive pronoun used to show possession or belonging over inanimate objects.

Example: To differentiate its meaning is hard to explain.

It’s is a shortened form for the phrase “it is” or “it has”.

Example: It’s so difficult to differentiate the two.

Tip: If your sentence doesn’t make sense using “it’s” (it is/it has) use its.

(Example, “The dog that wags it’s tail.” Now, read it as, “The dog that wags it is tail.” Now, you’re lost, the sentence is wrong. The correct one is, “The dog that wags its tail.” use its.)


Except means not including something, an exclusion.

Example: Everyone in the family loves hiking except my mother.   

Accept means to receive or say yes to something.

Example: I would like to accept his offer but my friend insisted not to.  


Effect is used as a noun, which means a consequence or result of something.

Example: The effect of COVID-19 on our economy is disruptive due to a halt in supply and demand.

Affect is a verb used with an object, means to produce an effect or cause an impact.

Example: Quarantine caused by COVID-19 began to affect our lifestyle into healthier one.


Breath is a noun, it means the air that you inhale or exhale thru your nose or mouth, a full cycle of breathing.

Example: He went home late and his breath smelled of liquor.

Breathe is a verb that describes the process of inhaling and exhaling.

Example: Humans can’t breathe underwater.


Hold up, let’s fix the confusion you have in mind with these three homonyms.

Their indicates that something belongs to a group of people or other things.

Example: Some native English speakers are also confused with their grammar.

There means a place or position farther from where you’re situated. Opposite of here.

Example: The training center is over there.

They’re is a contraction of “they are”, shortened with an apostrophe.

Example: They’re still figuring out the disappearances at Bermuda Triangle.


Lay is a verb that means to put something down gently in a flat position.

Example: Lay the eggs carefully on the tray.

Lie is a verb that could mean untruth or to tell false statements. It could also mean to rest in a flat position, it doesn’t require a direct object to act upon. (This is where the misconception with the word lay occurs.)

Example: He lie down in the room to rest before eating dinner.


Lose is used as a verb that could mean defeat or loss, or failure to keep something in possession.                         

Example: He lose all his money from gambling at the casino.

Loose is an adjective that means, not tightly fixed in place or not securely attached.

Example: His pants were a bit loose around his waist.


Be extra careful because spelling these two homonyms appropriately can be tricky!

Who’s is a contraction for “who is” or “who has”.

Example: Who’s got the dictionary from the library?

Whose is a possessive adjective form of “who” which could be related to the ownership of “whom” or “which”.

Example: Whose dictionary is this?


Farther is used to describe the extent of a physical distance from one thing to another.

Example: The nearest gasoline station was much farther than she expected.

Further is another term for “moreover” or in addition to, could indicate a figurative distance.

Example: The teacher explained the topics further to the students.

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Kristine Gallego

Kristine is currently a Senior Designer in a Japanese architectural firm. She took up her studies in BS Architecture at the Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila. During her college days, she was a consistent student leader and successfully topped her thesis exhibit as 6th placer. Along with her passion for design and arts, she's also an enthusiastic reader and an avid fan of historical documentaries. Studying history and human behavior is where her curiosity often brings her. The composition style of her literary pieces are inspired by dream-like scenarios, an alternate world to escape out of reality. Because her goal as a writer is to spread a positive vibe for the readers and to learn from them in return.