Are You Misusing English Words by Mistake?

Learning English can be both fun and challenging because so many words can easily be misused. Some words may sound similar or even look alike, yet may have two different meanings. These types of words can easily confuse people and international students trying to learn English. Check out some of the most common English words that are frequently used incorrectly.



Bemused is often used in sentences incorrectly. It means to be perplexed, puzzled or bewildered.

Example: The man’s bemused expression showed he did not know he was late for work.

Capitol vs. Capital

Capitol is the building where the legislature holds meetings.

Capital can refer to a major city, property or money. It is also used for a capital letter.

Example: The state capitol of New Mexico in Santa Fe is a very simple but elegant building.

Example: There was enough capital to buy the property.

Compliment vs. Complement

At first glance, these two English words may seem to be spelled the same. However, there is a slight variation in the spelling.

Compliment means admiration or praise.

Complement makes something whole or complete.

Example: I received a compliment on the term paper I wrote.

Example: The blue shirt is a wonderful complement to her outfit.

Flout vs. Flaunt

Flout is when a person shows disregard or hatred towards something or someone.

Flaunt refers to showing off or displaying something like jewelry, a new car, or skills in an inappropriate or offensive manner.

Example: We understand the problems, yet every year members flout the rules.

Example: After she began to learn English, she decided to flaunt her new skills.

Organizing your thoughts and using the correct English words can be so important for term papers, resumes, or any work that represents you. Misused words can confuse a reader or, even worse, convey the wrong message. Using words correctly can improve your writing abilities and increase communication skills.


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