Confused traffic signalphoto © 2007 caesararum | more info (via: Wylio) A few weeks ago, we explained how to use some commonly confused English words. Those words cause confusion because they sound similar. Today, let’s look at some words with similar meanings that give students problems. Study and practice these words, and you can express yourself more clearly in English.

Lend & borrow

  • Lend – to let someone use something with the condition of returning it to you
  • Borrow – to take something with the promise of returning it later

Imagine that your friend does not have a pen for class. You have an extra pen that you can share with her. You lend her a pen (or lend a pen to her). Your friend borrows your pen.

Watch and see

  • Watch – to observe something or look at something with close attention
  • See – to perceive something with your eyes

In general, use the word watch when you are paying close attention to something. If Beth is competing in a race, we watch her run. If Beth runs by the classroom and we notice her doing so, we see her run.

Strangely, however, we watch TV, but we see a movie, play, or concert. Sometimes English doesn’t make sense. 🙂

Listen and hear

  • Listen – to give attention to something with the ears
  • Hear – to notice something with the ears

Similar to watch and see, the difference between listen and hear is attention. If Duane is performing a song for us, we listen to him sing. If Duane is singing to himself while he works in his office, we hear him as we walk by his office.

Are there some other words that confuse you? Leave a comment and tell us about them. We will try to explain them to you with examples.