Only the former is a word. The latter sounds like it could be, which is probably why people mess it up. But it’s not and any time you use it a puppy dies.
Duel and dual.
This is another case of meaning something completely different but being similar in spelling. And identical in pronunciation. The former is walk-ten-paces-turn-and-fire, the latter is related to two/double.
Then and than.
I know it’s “and then” when I’m continuing a topic, and “larger/smaller than” when comparing something. But still I catch myself writing “and than” and “smaller then”. Darn homophones. No wonder people have such a hard time picking up English.
I haaaate these words. Pique I’m good with, mostly because I hardly ever find need to use it—irritation and annoyance work better in YA—but every time I have to write about a character peering at something or the top of a mountain, I have to think about it. This isn’t even an exaggerating. Every dang time. Remember: ee for looking, ea for an apex.
Not only are these words spelled similarly, their meanings are similar, too. Both are related to the word influence, with affect meaning to act on and effect meaning something that was acted on. Affecting something means you have an effect on it. Thoroughly confused yet? Yeah, me too. The only real tip I have for this one is that ninety five percent of the time you don’t use effect as a verb and when you do, it always has an object with it (as in, “it effected change throughout the system”). Need an independent verb? You probably want affect. A noun? Since affect doesn’t come in noun form, go with effect.
Any tips for keeping track of words? Have any suggestions for confusing words?