The following sound-alike or look-alike words are frequently misused by students of English as a second language as well as by native speakers. Sometimes the part of speech is the clue to correct usage, as with affect (the verb) and effect (the noun), but other times there are no discernible clues, and the student must learn the discrete meanings of these sound or look alike spelling demons.
The list includes twenty-five pairs from the original 100 pair Double Demons spelling program. These twenty-five are the most frequently misused by developmental studies and second language students and are the most demonic of the demons. They appear here in sentences or phrases that place them in context, and other clues are given also, if relevant.
There is a brief quiz that can be played with Netscape 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0. Please be patient! Depending on your hardware and software, It may take up to 5 minutes to load the sound file for the quiz. This file can be downloaded to a temp file or floppy disk to be played later if you are using an earlier version of Netscape or another incompatible browser. E-mail me if you have problems playing or downloading this file. Perhaps I can help you.
Cordially, Jim Kline
Use this quiz as a pretest to gauge your students' proficiency with these words, or use it as a post test after they study the word list.
This quiz should be played on Netscape 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0 plug-in. The player should be visible to you, and you can pause between words by clicking on the vertical bars.
accept (v) Please accept my apology.
except (prep.) Everyone left except John.
advice (n) My father's advice was to stay in school.
advise (v) I will advise my children to do so also.
affect (v) A college education will affect my future.
effect (n) The effect of a good education will benefit my family.
a lot (two words) College graduates earn a lot more money than do dropouts.
allot (v, to distribute) Students must allot sufficient time to study and rest.
angel (supernatural being). The angel Gabriel spoke to Mohammed.
angle (geometric figure) An acute angle is one of less than ninety degrees.
capital (principal city) The capital of Honduras is Tegucigalpa.
capitol (building in Washington D. C.) The capitol building houses congress.
choose (v, present tense) Did you choose a color for the carpet?
chose ( past tense of choose) Yes, I chose the light blue.
council (a group of advisors) The student council will meet today.
counsel (advice) We followed the lawyer's counsel.
desert (v, abandon; n, arid region) He would not desert his comrades in the Mojave desert.
dessert (an after-dinner treat) She served apple pie for dessert.
here ( this place) Meet me here at noon.
hear (v) Did you hear the phone ring?
its (possessive case of it) The cat broke its tail.
it's (contraction of it is) It's an inch shorter now.
lead (v, to conduct or n, a metal) I will lead you to the door. Lead weights are used for ballast.
led ( v, past tense of lead) She led the way out of the forest.
loose (adj., not fastened or restrained) The bolt holding the handle was loose.
lose (v, misplace or fail to win) Did you lose your money when your horse lost the race?
new (adj., not old) She wrote a new program for the computer.
knew (v, past tense of know) She knew several programming languages.
principal (adj., most important) The principal reason for the bond issue is to build new schools.
principle (n, a general or fundamental law or doctrine) Our economy works on the principle of supply and demand.
quiet (adj., free from noise) We live on a quiet street.
quite (adv., completely, wholly) He was quite satisfied with his grade on the test.
sense (n, meaning or sensory faculties) The play made sense to him. Although he was blind, his sense of hearing was acute.
since(prep. of time) I haven't seen him since yesterday.
there ( substitute subject or adv.,in that place) There is a barn over there in the pasture.
their (plural possessive of the pronoun they) They left their books on their desks.
to (with v, sign of the infinitive; with n, preposition toward) I want to drive to school.
too (adv., also or very) Maria, too, has too many distractions.
wait (v, to expect or look forward to) Please wait here until I call you.
weight (n, amount as expressed in pounds or kilograms) Ruth's weight was 110 pounds or 49.89 kilograms.
whose (possessive of who) Ana is a student whose grades are excellent.
who's (contraction for who is) Who's going to the library this evening?
write (v, to inscribe) Please write your answer in the space provided.
right (correct, proper or opposite of left) The right answer is in the box on the right side of the page.
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