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Alphadictionary.com

250 Often Confused Words • S


Below are the words beginning on S of a list of more than 250 words that speakers and writers of English often confuse. They are called false cognates because they sound or are written so similarly that they are often confused. Even if you are an excellent writer, you should read through this list; otherwise, how will you know if you are confusing any words? We will soon have a quiz that will help you check your knowledge of the most common false English cognates.


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• S •
WORDS DEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
sale
sail
A sale is a noun meaning "the selling of something": Every car sale means a commission for the salesman.
A sail isthe material used to catch wind on a boat: The sail billowed in the wind as Jacob's boat slid across the water.
sale
sell
A sale is a noun meaning "the selling of something": Every car sale means a commission for the salesman.
To sell, the verb, is to offer goods for consumption at a cost: Seth sells his pottery at art fairs.
sanguine
saturnine
Sanguine means "red, ruddy or optimistic": I am not sanguine about your getting this job.
Saturnine means "being moody, sullen, or melancholy": Ima Aiken falls into a saturnine mood every time her husband Hadley goes away on business.
scene
seen
Scene is a place or view: The scene of the crime was just outside his window.
Seen is past tense of see: I have seen that movie three times already.
seam
seem
A seam is where two pieces are joined: The seam of Leticia's dress ripped when she bent over.
To seem is to appear or look as if: Leticia seemed unhappy when that happened.
semimonthly
bimonthly
See bimonthly, semimonthly.
sensor
censor
censure
See censor, sensor, censure.
sensual
sensuous
Sensual refers to physical, especially sexual, pleasure: Derry Yare wears sensual dresses to attract men.
Sensuous refers to anything artistic that appeals to the senses or appetites: Marguerita had prepared a sumptous, sensuous feast for her guests.
serf
surf
A serf is a slave or servant: Neil Downe came from a family of serfs but rose to become a landlord.
To surf is to ride the waves of water, or to search on the Internet: The surf is up down at the beach; you can surf the Internet some other time.
set
sit
seat
Set is a transitive verb meaning "to put or place something solid somewhere": Marvin set his new lamp on the table.
Sit means "to rest upright with the weight on the buttocks or to move into such a position"; the past tense is sat: Percy sat down beside Geneva on the park bench.
Seat can be a verb meaning "to show someone their seat or where to sit": The waiter seated Murgatroyd at his usual table by the door.
sever
severe
Sever means "to cut through completely": One blow from Jessie's hatchet severed the rope.
Severe means "strict, hard, extreme": Severe winter weather came early this year. There was a severe tone in her voice when she berated him for putting the tack in her chair.
shear
sheer
Shear means "to cut off": We shear sheep's wool in the spring and we shear the hedges in the summer.
Sheer means "pure, unadulterated": Felicity found the amusement park a sheer pleasure. Sheer also means "transparent": Perry Winkle hung sheer curtains in the living room.
shore
sure
A shore is a beach: to spend a vacation on the shore. It also means "to brace or support": They shored up the leaning wall with steel beams.
Sure means "without doubt": Maria was sure about the decision to move to another country.
singly
singularly
Singly means "one by one": The fire drill required everyone to leave the building quietly and singly.
Singularly means "extraordinarily, in an outstanding manner": He singularly fought the rebels off one by one.
singly
singularly
Singly means "one by one": The fire drill required everyone to leave the building quietly and singly.
Singularly means "extraordinarily, in an outstanding manner": He singularly fought the rebels off one by one.
site
sight
cite
See cite, site, sight.
sleight-of-hand
slight-of-hand
Sleight of hand refers to dexterity and trickery with the hands: The magician's sleight of hand fooled the audience.
This phrase is often confused with slight of hand, an adjective phrase meaning "having small slender hands".
sole
soul
Sole means "single": The sole remaining person in the room left, leaving it empty. It also means the bottom of a foot or shoe: Gigi needed new soles on her shoes.
A soul refers to the spirit of a living creature: Do you believe animals have souls?
some time
sometime
sometimes
Some time refers to a considerable period of time: I need some time to think about it.
Sometime refers to an indistinct or unstated time in the future: I'll see you around sometime.
Sometimes is an adverb meaning continually, off and on, occasionally: Karen sometimes drinks coffee instead of tea.
stationary
stationery
Stationary means "still and unmoving": The cat was stationary until it was time to pounce on its prey.
Stationery refers to writing materials such as paper: Craig took out his best stationery to write to his beloved Charlotte Russe.
statue
statute
stature
A statue is a carved or shaped imitation of an object: There is a statue of a large bird is in her garden.
A statute is law: The government publishes new statutes each year.
Stature means "status, standing": Chester Drors is a man of substantial stature in state politics.
storey
story
Storey is the British spelling of story when this word refers to a floor of a building: The upper storeys of the building comprised apartments. The US spelling of this sense of the word is also story.
A story is a tale related in speech or writing by someone. In the US, it is also the spelling used to refer to the floor of a building: My home is three stories high.
straight
strait
Straight is an adjective that means having "no bends or curve"s: Pimsley's walking cane is as straight as an arrow.
A strait is a narrow channel connecting two bodies of water: The Bering Strait lies between Alaska and Siberia.
supposedly
supposably
Supposedly means "reputedly" or "likely to be true": Sam is supposedly the greatest waterboy in the football team's history.
Supposably means "can be supposed": The best solution to the problem is supposably to ignore it. (However, this word is seldom used.)
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Now test your knowledge of these words here.