When words both sound and look similar, it can be quite hard to figure out which is the correct word to use. These words are commonly misused and misspelled in writing. Here are some simple tips and tricks for using these commonly misused words!

Try your best to differentiate these commonly mixed up words, and save yourself some marks in your next composition. You can bookmark this page on your phone or computer and come back to it if you need to.


Lose means unable to find something or someone.

Example: “I’ve lost (past tense) the car keys.”

Loose means not firmly or tightly fixed in place.

Example: “A loose tooth.”


Stationary means not moving or not changing.

Example: “Mrs Lee ordered her daughter to remain stationary while she ran to get bread.”

Stationery means writing materials such as pens, pencils and paper.

Example: “Justin pulled out a piece of stationery and wrote a quick letter.”


Receipt means to give or write a receipt for money paid or goods or services delivered.

Example: “Remember to keep your receipt as proof of purchase!”

Recipe means a set of instructions for preparing a particular dish, including a list of the ingredients required.

Example: “I never follow recipes exactly when I cook.”


Principal means a chief or the head or director of a school.

Example: “The principal of the school is retiring this year.”

Principle means an accepted rule of action or conduct.

Example: “He is a man of principle and good to his word.”


Breathe means to take oxygen into the lungs and expel it.

Example: “The classroom started to spin and he sat, forcing himself to breathe deeply.”

Breadth means the extent or measure of how broad or wide something is.

Example: “Alice measured the breadth of the bed before buying it to make sure it would fit in her bedroom.”


Massage means to rub and press someone’s body in order to make them relax or to stop their muscles hurting.

Example: “I need a massage to help my aching neck.”

Message means a short piece of information to someone who cannot be contacted directly.

Example: “Could I leave a message for Mr Wong?”


Than is used for comparisons.

Then is used for actions in time.

Example: We should finish our homework then race each other to see if you can run faster than me.


Accept means to agree.

Except means to exclude/ leave out.

Example: I will accept your gifts except for the new iPhone because it is too expensive.


It’s = it is

Its = belonging to it

For this, it is crucial to remember that ‘it’ is opposite from using the noun.

[e.g. for using the apostrophe, Alice’s = belonging to Alice, while it’s = it is]

Example: It’s important for a kitten to stay with its mother until it is three months old.


There = a location

Their = belonging to them

They’re = They are

Example: They’re not sure whether they left their bags here or there.


The phrase a lot means a large number or many,hile the word while the word ‘alot’ does not exist!

Example: A lot of people do not know that ‘alot’ is supposed to be two words, not one.

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