Commonly confused words

The following list of commonly confused words and tricky spelling rules draw directly from the sources cited below. 

Commonly confused words


In British English and at UT, 'programme' is the prefered spelling when referring to a schedule of events.

In British English and at UT, 'program' is used for computer applications only.

Note also:

In American English 'program' is the preferred spelling for both uses above, so do realise that you will continue to notice this spelling in texts written in American English.

among vs between

'Among' is used for undifferentiated items.

'Between' is used with individual, named items.

mutual vs reciprocal

'Mutual' is used when more than one person has the same feeling/opinion as another towards a third party/object/concept etc.

'Reciprocal' is used when two or more people feel, think or act in the same way about or to one another.

less vs fewer

'Less' is used with nouns which are not countable objects: if you could use much to describe having a lot of the noun, use 'less'.

'Fewer' is used with countable objects: if you could use many to describe having a lot of the noun, 
use 'fewer'.

effect vs affect (verb)

'Effect' as a verb means to bring about, or to have the result that.

'Affect' as a verb means to have an impact on or to change something; it also means to simulate something which is untrue.

effect vs affect (noun)

'Effect' as a noun means the impact something causes.

'Affect' as a noun means someone’s outward appearance of their psychological state.

infer vs imply

'Infer' is to read a meaning into a statement which has not been explicitly stated: to read between the lines.

'Imply' is to suggest something without explicitly stating it: to hint at something (usually something negative).

compared to vs compared with

Comparing something to another thing highlights a (perhaps metaphorical) similarity

Comparing something with another thing highlights the differences between them

all together vs altogether

The two-word usage of 'all together' means, in a body or in a group.

The joined up one-word usage of 'altogether' is used as an adverb, meaning completely, or entirely. 

Commonly confused words caused by interference effects

Reference List

European Commission English Style Guide - A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission Eighth edition: January 2016 Last updated: May 2018 "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

Oxford Learner's Dictionary. Retrieved from