Vocabulary Quiz #14: Commonly Confused Words

By Mark Nichol - 2 minute read

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In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)

1. Sallie’s parents criticized her constantly as a child; as a result, she has difficulty accepting a ______ .

a) compliment
b) complement

2. Many citizens feel that the government is not sufficiently concerned with the effects of _______ change.

a) climatic
b) climactic

3. The band director has finally succeeded in getting the beginners to play ______ on this piece.

a) all together
b) altogether

4. Her love of make-up and jewelry sometimes results in an extremely _______ appearance.

a) bazaar
b) bizarre

5. My brother’s gun collection includes an antique _______ loader.

a) breach
b) breech

Answers and Explanations

1. Sallie’s parents criticized her constantly as a child; as a result, she has difficulty accepting a compliment .
a) compliment

A compliment is an expression of approval or praise. To complement is to improve or to add something that improves. Example: That green scarf will complement the color of your eyes.

2. Many citizens feel that the government is not sufficiently concerned with the effects of climatic change.
a) climatic

The adjective climatic refers to climate; climactic refers to forming a climax.

3. The band director has finally succeeded in getting the beginners to play all together on this piece.
a) all together

The two words all together mean “all at once”; altogether means “on the whole.” Example: Altogether, I prefer drama to comedy.

4. Her love of make-up and jewelry sometimes results in an extremely bizarre appearance.
b) bizarre

The adjective bizarre means “strange.” The noun bazaar refers to a Middle Eastern market.

5. My brother’s gun collection includes an antique breech loader.
b) breech

The noun breech refers to the back part of a gun barrel. The verb to breach means to break through something: The artillery breached the castle wall. Breach can also be a noun meaning a break or a gap: Soldiers poured through the breach in the wall.

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5 Responses to “Vocabulary Quiz #14: Commonly Confused Words”

  • D.A.W.

    “She has difficulty accepting a compliment.”

    If you know some Euclidean geometry, then you can rule our “complement” easily. Two angles, A & B, are complementary when their measures A + B = 180 degrees, exactly. This is the same as pi radians.
    The two angles are supplementary when A + B = 90 degrees, exactly. In other words, this is a right angle.

  • D.A.W.

    The word “breech” is also the source of the word “breeches” (a garment), and from this comes the more modern word “britches”. “Katherine Hepburn was one of the women of Hollywood who made it fashionable for women to wear britches.”
    In Spanish, the word “pantaloons” is equivalent to “breeches”, and from the Spanish word comes the English word “pants”. From India came the word “khaki” for a color, and we get “khaki pants” from this.
    In the U.S. Navy, khaki pants, shirts, and jackets for officers were made popular by aviators, and maybe submariners, too, while the shipboard officers still preferred to wear white or blue uniforms, depending on the season and the climate.

  • D.A.W.

    “My brother’s gun collection includes an antique breech loader.”
    Your brother’s collection would include a real antique if he had a MUZZLE loader or two!
    All modern rifles and submachineguns are breech loaders.

  • D.A.W.

    There was a time when I read these comic strips every day: “Calvin and Hobbes”, “The Wizard of Id”, “B.C.”, and “Boom Hilda”. Broom Hilda was a wacky witch, and one time the topic of the day was “Broom Hilda is having a fashion bizarre tonight!” (quoted as written)

  • D.A.W.

    “All together, we can weather – almost anything…”
    A notable lyric of a song. Chorus, “All together, now; all together, now; all together now.”

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