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Words Frequently Misused

Homonyms are words that sound the same or have the same spelling as another word, but have different meanings. They are commonly misused because of the similarities in the way they are pronounced and/or spelled.

  • Incorrect: Durham College has more sports teams then Ontario Tech University.
  • Correct: Durham College has more sports teams than Ontario Tech University.


  • Incorrect: How are you’re peers doing in school?
  • Correct: How are your peers doing in school?


  • Incorrect: Smoking negatively effects people’s health.
  • Correct: Smoking negatively affects people’s health.


  • Use a dictionary. If you have a green or blue underline in your Word document, check the definition to make sure you are using the correct word for what you are saying. Lists of commonly confused words are widely available in style guides and online.

For more examples, see the Words that Sound Similar page and the Words that Sound Similar tipsheet.