Straighten Out Confusing Word Pairs

Presented by the Business Writing Center, training business writers since 1997

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This test will help you you learn to make the right choices when you must choose between two words that writers often confuse. Click on the circle to the left of the answer you believe is correct. When you are finished, click on the "Submit" button to see your score.


1. We could not _________ the explanation.

a) except

b) accept

c) Don't Know

2. We were not ________ to the idea.

a) adverse

b) averse

c) Don't Know

3. We found everything _________ the right document.

a) except

b) accept

c) Don't Know

4. The chemical had _______ effects on her system.

a) averse

b) adverse

c) Don't Know

5. The cost will _______ the final contract.

a) effect

b) affect

c) Don't Know

6. We know that the _____ of the merger will create problems.

a) effect

b) affect

c) Don't Know

7. The plaintiff found herself _______ several hostile women.

a) between

b) among

c) Don't Know

8. The agreement was made ________ two employees of the business.

a) between

b) among

c) Don't Know

9. The owners _______ the building in the fall.

a) apprised

b) appraised

c) Don't Know

10. John agreed to keep Linda ______ of all changes in the agreement.

a) appraised

b) apprised

c) Don't Know

11. The defendant did his best to _______ the plaintiff that the damage was minimal.

a) assure

b) ensure

c) Don't Know

12. The owners added a scaffold to ______ that workers were safe.

a) ensure

b) assure

c) Don't Know

13. The __________ meeting occurs every other month.

a) bimonthly

b) semimonthly

c) Don't Know

14. A ________report is produced twice a year.

a) biannual

b) semiannual

c) Don't Know

15. The committee read the document and _________ objectionable parts.

a) censured

b) censored

c) Don't Know

16. The result of his misconduct was a vote to ________ the alderman.

a) censor

b) censure

c) Don't Know

17. The firm agreed that increasing client satisfaction was our _______ goal.

a) common

b) mutual

c) Don't Know

18. It was in the parties' _________ interest to reach an agreement quickly.

a) common

b) mutual

c) Don't Know

19. Using the invention was the highest ________ someone could pay the inventor.

a) compliment

b) complement

c) Don't Know

20. The new subsidiary ________ the focus of the larger company.

a) complimented

b) complemented

c) Don't Know

21. The legal team is _________ of staff members from three firms.

a) comprised

b) composed

c) Don't Know

22. The legal team _______ the top defense lawyers in the country.

a) composes

b) comprises

c) Don't Know

23. The incidents occurred for three _______ months: June, July, and August.

a) consecutive

b) successive

c) Don't Know

24. The defendant's behavior continued over three ______ months: December, March, and July.

a) consecutive

b) successive

c) Don't Know

25. Mark's ______ absence resulted in his termination.

a) continuous

b) continual

c) Don't Know

26. Once started, the motor will run _______ until it runs out of gas.

a) continuously

b) continually

c) Don't Know

27. Both tried to be ______ about their romance, but were unable to keep it secret.

a) discreet

b) discrete

c) Don't Know

28. The incidents occurred in three _______ periods.

a) discreet

b) discrete

c) Don't Know

29. The residents smelled the ______ odor of marijuana.

a) distinct

b) distinctive

c) Don't Know

30. The defendant's recording was easy to assign to him because of his _________ voice.

a) distinct

b) distinctive

c) Don't Know

31. Dr. Rogers was an _________ scientist.

a) imminent

b) eminent

c) Don't Know

32. As the crowd grew unruly, it was apparent that violence was ___________.

a) eminent

b) imminent

c) Don't Know

33. The two defendants were ______ happy with the verdict of innocence.

a) exceedingly

b) excessively

c) Don't Know

34. The two talked __________ in the interview.

a) excessively

b) exceedingly

c) Don't Know

35. There were _______ hours logged than the company expected.

a) less

b) fewer

c) Don't Know

36. The amount of gasoline was ________ than we had budgeted for.

a) less

b) fewer

c) Don't Know

37. We decided to go ________ with the project.

a) forward

b) foreword

c) Don't Know

38. Most of the really valuable information was in the book's _________.

a) forward

b) foreword

c) Don't Know

39. The fires were ___________ to the firm's growth, but not long-term problems.

a) obstacles

b) impediments

c) Don't Know

40. The city's zoning ordinance became an _________ the builders could not overcome.

a) obstacle

b) impediment

c) Don't Know

41. The minister's statement ______ that he knew who had stolen the books.

a) inferred

b) implied

c) Don't Know

42. We _______ from his statements that he was not happy with the results.

a) implied

b) inferred

c) Don't Know

43. We learned that to find something quickly, we needed to look in the books' __________.

a) indices

b) indexes

c) Don't Know

44. The report listed the cost-of-living ________ that affected the economy during those years.

a) indices

b) indexes

c) Don't Know

45. We knew that the keynote speaker ________ the speaker we wanted to hear.

a) preceded

b) proceeded

c) Don't Know

46. After the city approved the plans, the company ______ with digging the foundation.

a) preceded

b) proceeded

c) Don't Know

47. The ____________ reason we did not pursue it was the cost.

a) principle

b) principal

c) Don't Know

48. We did not want to continue the case, mostly because of _______.

a) principle

b) principal

c) Don't Know

49. The dining room was not easily ___________.

a) assessable

b) accessible

c) Don't Know

50. The impact on our firm will not be _________ for at least three months.

a) accessible

b) assessable

c) Don't Know





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