Confusing Words

In the English language, there are many words that look similar and can be confusing, especially to ESL learners.

MELLOW / MELODIOUS

Mellow: mature; soft and pure; rich and full.

e.g. As he continues to age, he become more mellow and compassionate.

Melodious: tuneful; pleasant to the ear.

e.g. He voice is melodious; he should take up singin

SEDATIVE / SEDENTARY

Sedative: calming or soothing.

e.g. The doctor gave her some sedative medicine to put her to sleep.

Sedentary: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.

e.g His sedentary work — sitting in front of the computer — took a toll on his health.

e.g. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle even if you are approaching 60..

GENTEEL / GENTLE

Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?

e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: kind, friendly, mild.

e.g. Be gentle to my puppy.

DISPOSABLE / INDISPOSED

Disposable: can’t be removed or got rid of.

e.g. This machine is disposable; we can do without it

Indisposed: not feeling well; unwilling to

e.g. You look indisposed. Is there something wrong with you?

e.g. Many people are indisposed to working on weekends.

TERMINABLE / TERMINAL

Terminable: can be ended.

e.g. Your employment is only temporary and terminable at any time.

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told him that he had terminal cancer.

DECORATIVE / DECOROUS

Decorative: having an artistic or showy effect.

e.g. The ballroom with all the ribbons and flowers are very decorative.

Decorous: showing good taste.

e.g. The Princess looks decorous in that simple but beautiful dress.

 

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 

Author: Stephen Lau

Born in Hong Kong, Stephen Lau received his education from the University of Hong Kong, SEAMEO in Singapore, and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He has published books on learning English as well as on health and wisdom in living. He now resides in the United States.

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