English Vocabulary: “Confusing Words Part I”

Good morning everyone!

Monday is here, and that means a whole new week to learn lots of new English! Ready?

The following list of 5 pairs are combinations of words we often get wrong – not just beginners, even advanced students. In fact, the word “literally” is even misused by the president of the USA!

Assent and Consent

Both verbs mean agreement, but let’s look at their definitions:

assent – to agree to or approve of something (such as an idea or suggestion) especially after carefully thinking about it.

consent – to agree to do or allow something : to give permission for something to happen or be done.

So you see, one means to agree enthusiastically, and the other is to agree neutrally.

Breach and Breech

They sound the same, but are not!

breach – a failure to do what is required by a law an agreement or a duty : failure to act in a required or promised way.

breech – this word means the lower part of the body first. It is usually only used to describe a birth in which a baby is born with the feet or buttocks coming out of the mother first instead of the head.

So if a company is not acting as it promised it would in a contract, it is breaching the contract, not breeching. That would be very strange, right?

Compelled and Impelled

One is a voluntary action, the other isn’t. Do you know which is which?

compelled – to force (someone) to do something.

impelled – to cause (someone) to feel a strong need or desire to do something.

So if a thief steals diamonds from an old lady and feels guilty, maybe he will be impelled to giving it back. But if he doesn’t feel guilty and is caught by the police, he will be compelled to go to prison!

Infectious and Contagious

We often use these words like synonyms, but in fact they have their own, very different, meaning:

infectious – capable of causing infection, capable of being passed to someone else by germs that enter the body and suffering from a disease that can be spread to other people by germs.

contagious – able to be passed from one person or animal to another by touching.

So, infectious diseases are caused by bacteria or viruses that get into the body and cause problems. Some infectious diseases spread directly from one person to another. Infectious diseases that spread from person to person are said to be contagious.

Deserts, Deserts and Desserts

The first one, pronounced deserts, sounds like the last word, desserts. However, the second word is pronounced desert. OK, now we all understand how to say these three words, let’s find out what they mean and make sure we don’t get them confused!

deserts – punishment that someone deserves

deserts – an area of very dry land that is usually covered with sand and is very hot.

desserts – sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal.

Very similar words, with very different meanings.

So there we go, 11 words learnt today that will help you not get confused between similar words.

Try to write them down somewhere, or make sentences with each one to memorize their meaning and understand how they can be applied in real life. You can write them in the comments section and we will tell you if they’re right or wrong.




  1. fruit is a good dessert and the Sahara is a desert
    The cought is contagious and the virus cause an infectious
    Ihave togo to the lawyer to breach a law ant the baby was born by breech

  2. The desserts are a sweet habit.
    The virus can be controlled with medication!
    The breach of a rule can bring severe consequences.
    I crashed breech, how much pain!

  3. My sons are compelled to take some desserts after their main plate .Otherwise they will have a deserts from me.

  4. Very useful words. Thank you. I will practice in the way you adviced.

  5. Buenas noches la verdad no entiendo nada de lo q me has enseñado y me gustaria aprender ingles

  6. francisco jose franco gomez

    Thanks Aba english by imprubing my english…Since i started practicing yours friday lessons…

  7. Aka Kouassi Francis

    Very interesting lesson. I’m happy to have learned these words.

  8. Thank you very much that you explain us a lot of things so clear and interesting

  9. Thank you very much for teaching us all of this words…

  10. Thank kate for the information. It is very interesting.

  11. thank you to consent me to learn english by head not by breech. Read your lesson impel me to read more….hoping for this rule will be contagious!

  12. Eu tenho um caderno onde refaço todas as anotações de sexta-feira, que chamo de Priscila. Excelentes dicas!

  13. thanks for evrything

  14. I need to thank you very much to impelled me to improve my english

  15. the different faces of learning english makes me in good conditions to work on it .

  16. Very interesting. Iwill practice these words on week-end

  17. I´m very happy for this lesson. Congrats!

  18. Very interesting lessons. Thanks

  19. sandra Regina de Oliveira

    I like a lot of the lessons that Priscila sends me…

  20. I would like to say thank you to the entire ABA team and my special thanks to our lovely english teacher Nikki and to let you know that this part about confusing words was very useful and I learnt a lot thank you again

    • You’re welcome! 🙂 We’re happy when our students learn new things with our posts.
      Nikki says “Hi” by the way. Take care!

  21. thank you very much for this lesson ,it’s very interesting and you explain them very well

  22. I like this site is very good to learn English thanks a lot Kate…..

  23. Raimunda oliveira

    I like this site is very good…

  24. nixon alex mendoza

    thank theacher kate for yuo woork is great

  25. I assent my son Peter go to Joe’s Birthday Party the next saturday.
    My husband and me consent our neighbor Pamele leave her dog in our house when she goes shopping.

  26. The dog is walking whitout collar around the park, its owner breach the signal “no loose dogs”.
    My last daugther was born breech.

  27. When the man saw an old woman carrying many bags he had impelled to help her.
    The bad time compelled to finish the work in the garden before other days.

  28. This rare disease is contagious for humans and is a infectious disease wich can result in death.

  29. Cowboys desert their old animals in the desert.
    Today we will eat a chocolat dessert with fruits and cream.

  30. thanks very much it is very helpful for learning English

  31. Thanks You Kate, I’m Learning Inglish a lot because of You¡¡¡

  32. I signed and consented to this surgical procedure
    We all assented to go to Italy this summer
    This plumber did not complete the job he was ired for, he breached the contract
    My friend had a baby , it was a breech delivery

  33. Hi,

    Very nice lesson. Thanks for your help.

  34. For me, is very importan.

  35. thank you so much for coaching us english on this site i hope to ger contanue things

  36. Hello KATE you are very good teacher, whit your lessions I’am very nice. I love you because your are more what teacher good.have a nice afternoon. BYE, BYE..

  37. Ja'afar Abdullahi Sarki

    Hello Kate, you are really a nice teacher. I’m absolutely impelled to express my heartfelt appreciation for your indefatigable efforts in exposing us to the newly and strange tricks for learning a sound English.
    Thanks elephantly.

    • George Talbot

      Everyone at ABA is very happy that these posts are helping you.

      Well done with your studies. Keep up the good work 🙂

  38. One time a queen consent to build a breech in the desert. She impelled some people who eat some desserts contagous to consent have breach owns roules sometimes.

  39. Hellooo i’m new in this blog, i don’t know that we had a blog, is fantastic!!!

  40. Thank you very much for your help.
    Have a nice weekend,too.

  41. Been a great since i join to AB Thank you so much have nice time in a rest of the week

    • George Talbot

      We are really glad that the course is helping you improve, Omar. We hope you have a great week and have fun improving your level of English 🙂

  42. Helo Kate, thanks for your teaching.i promise you that I’ll learn all these new words even breech the most difficult for me because is the less used. Furthemore I am very glad with the course and I’m learning a lot.
    Bye. My best for you.

  43. Hello Katy
    I’m very gla that you be my teacher
    I promise learn all the new words even breech that is the mot difficultt for me because is not more used.
    Thaks and the best for you.

  44. Hi

    We can said about The baby while born on breech form somethieme her mothers is necesary doing a surgery of doctor

  45. thank you kate for news words you show me. That great thank.

  46. jimmy carvajal guillen

    Hello Kate I hope you are fine. This is an easy way and great help to improve my English skills. my sentence is I AM COMPELLED BY THE SITUATION

  47. Hello Kate!! I hope you are fine!!!
    I like desserts a Lot!!! It’s hurts so much!!! I live on diet?
    Thank you teacher Kate !!

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