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Commonly Confused Phrases and Words

Fun/Funny

A lot of the confusion between “fun” and “funny” stems from the fact that you can so frequently form an adverb from an adjective by adding -ly. Unfortunately, the relationship between fun and funny is a lot more distant than that. Fun means that something is enjoyable or entertaining. Funny, on the other hand, means that it’s humorous. Something can be humorous that isn’t fun, and you can have fun without anything being funny.

Examples: That movie was really funny—I laughed my head off!

            The board game night was really fun, although it was a quiet crowd.

Pronounce/Pronunciate

This one’s easy: pronounce is a word, and pronunciate isn’t.

Used to vs. Be Used To

“Used to” by itself refers to a past habitual action. We follow it by a simple verb. If you are used to something, on the other hand, it is a current and recurring situation to which you have grown accustomed.

Examples: We used to go to the beach every summer.

            I’m used to getting up early, so it doesn’t bother me.

Because/Why

I think this pair is confusing because in some languages the same word is used for both when they’re used as conjunctions. The difference is sort of difficult to explain, but easy to understand in context, so check out the examples below to get an idea of how to use these two properly.

Examples: I forgot the code. That’s the reason why I  didn’t set the alarm last night.

            I didn’t set the alarm last night because I forgot the code.

            That’s why I had to leave late.

            I had to leave late because of that.

Care for/Take care of

If you care for someone, you either love them, or you are helping them because they are for some reason unable to do things themselves. For instance, you care for a sick or injured person. If you take care of someone, you also address their needs (and/or wants), but not because they’re sick or injured. You can also care for something, meaning that you like it, or take care of a chore or task, which means to do it.

Examples: I don’t care for tea.

            I dropped out of school to care for my brother after he had a car accident.

            Friends are people we care for.

            I’ll take care of the laundry if you’ll do the dishes.

            I can’t go out tonight—I have to take care of my children.

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