Mastering commonly confused words

Mastering commonly confused words

A number of you responded to this when it appeared on the logonliteracy Facebook Page a while ago:

Alot is not a word. You do not write alittle, abunch, abanana, or aporkchop.

I must admit that I could feel your frustration in the responses. ‘Alot’ is just not a word (as the squiggly spellcheck red line is telling me). It is being used when writers mean to use ‘a lot’ or, less often, ‘allot’. Either way, the use of ‘alot’ is as irritating as it is common. Other examples of words that look and sound very similar include: their/they’re and their; to/too/two; here/hear; where/ware/wear; etc.

Most commercially produced worksheets and blackline masters contain activities that get students to practise the use of these words together. For example, there will be a their/they’re/there worksheet. If you think about it, these words are already confused so wouldn’t putting them together further add to the confusion? I think it would.

Early primary teachers tell me that students often confuse ‘b’ with ‘d’ and ‘p’ with ‘q’ when they write these letters. They have more success when they teach them separately and allow students to master one before they introduce its confusing mate.

So, my advice is, allow students to master the use of ‘their’, for example, not by adding confusing examples that require ‘they’re’ and ‘their’ but sentences that just require ‘their’. Examples could look like this.

1. Add the possessive ‘their’.
I think the boys left _______ coats in the car.
2. Highlight the noun and the related pronoun.
I think the boys left their coats in the car.
3. Write in the missing letters.
I think the boys left th__ __  coats in the car.


Other good examples of things that are commonly confused occur in Maths. Students often confuse area with perimeter and volume with capacity.

Rather than giving students more examples to practise that could further confuse them, try allowing them to master one before introducing the other.


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Mastering commonly confused words | Logonliteracy