Confusing Words – affect & effect, compliment & complement, and more!

Today you're going to master words that even native speakers confuse! You'll learn common words that you can use in academic and business situations. Whether in conversation or in writing, if you use these words correctly, you'll sound smart. But if you use the wrong word, you won't sound so smart. So join me and learn these words, as well as how to use them properly. We'll look at the following sets of words: affect & effect, principle & principal, compliment & complement, moral & morale & mortal, personal & personnel, censor & sensor & censure.
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TRANSCRIPT

Hi. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. I'm Adam, and today's lesson: "Commonly Confused Words" is very important for those of you trying to learn vocabulary, but especially for those of you who need to write better. It's very important to write the correct word that you mean, and sometimes, the only difference between words is one letter, and this one letter makes a huge difference. Okay? So we're going to look at six sets of commonly confused words.

Now, we're going to start with "affect" and "effect", and the difference being the "a" or the "e". Now, this is one of those pair of words that all teachers in every ESL school, in every ESL class always teach students, but they don't necessarily teach it completely, so that's what we're going to look at today. "Affect", verb, in any situation you're looking at it, but it basically has two different meanings. One is to have an influence or to influence something, someone. It basically means to have some sort of power over something to make some sort of change. The noun, they go together, if something affects someone or something, then the result of that is the effect. Now, I'm stressing the "e" here just so you hear it, but in reality, in spoken and natural spoken English: "affect", "effect", "affect", "effect". It sounds almost the same, so you have to be very careful. You especially have to think about the context. Okay? Context is very important in… With all these words, to know which one is being used, because the situation that you hear or read the word in will tell you which meaning it is. So the context is everything that is around the word. So "affect", to influence something; "effect" is the result or what that influence has done to something or someone.

"To affect" also means to move someone emotionally. So if you affect someone, it means you have an emotional… You create an emotional reaction in them. Okay? You can affect them to the point of tears, means you're making them sad, you're making them so happy that they're crying.

Now, here's the surprising one that many people don't realize: "effect" can also be a verb. So most ESL teachers will tell you "affect" is a verb, "effect" is a noun, that's it. But "effect" can also be a verb, it means to bring about. Okay? I'm actually going to write this down for you. Now, we especially talk about change. So, for example, a new manager comes into a department and he wants to effect a change, a corporate culture change. He wants to bring about or to cause a change. Now, this is a little bit of a formal word, it's a big of a high-end word. If you're writing the IELTS, or TOEFL, or SAT, this is a very good word to use as a verb, but make sure that you know how to use it correctly before you try. Cause, bring about. So, that's these ones.

Next, we have "principle" and "principal". They sound the same, but obviously, different endings. This "principle" is basically a fundamental truth. Something… Like, for example, if you're talking about a scientific principle, this is the truth, and from this truth, we can make other truths or we can have other investigations into other areas. It's a fundamental truth. Now, when a person says that he or she has principles, and something goes against their principles, that means that they have a very, very strong belief, and they have a very strong way of doing something or looking at things, and other people can't change that. Okay? So that is a principle.

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