Confusing words


The difference in spelling is a single letter, ‘t’, but they mean different things.
The second word differs in spelling from the first in just having one ‘t’ extra, but the two words have very different meanings.
The latter word differs in spelling from the former by a single letter ‘t’, but the two words have different meanings.
The two words differ in spelling by a single letter ‘t’, but they have quite different meanings.

LATER is connected with time. When you say, “You go ahead with your lunch, I will join you later”, you are saying that you will come after some time. The time can be after a few minutes, hours, days, weeks or an undefined period of time. “I decided to pursue the project later”, leaves the time undefined.
LATTER, on the other hand, refers to the second of the two things or persons mentioned earlier. “If I am offered apples and bananas, I would prefer the latter”, would mean you would rather eat the bananas. “If I am given a choice to read, fiction and non-fiction, I would prefer the latter”, would mean you would read non-fiction. The opposite of latter is former.

In the IELTS essay if you are supporting the second of the two views mentioned earlier you should write, “Some believe schooling their children at home gives better results, while others think sending children to school is ideal. I support the latter view”


Confusing words – 6
Like, two prefixes were not enough, we have three!
The meaning of incriminate is straightforward. It means making someone a part of a crime or a negative activity. Example: His fingerprints at the scene of crime incriminated him. The guilty look on the child’s face incriminated her.

Discriminate has two meanings – one positive and another negative.
In a positive sense, we can say to discriminate is to distinguish, to differentiate. Example: The baby was able to discriminate between the voices of its mother and others around.
Initially, I was not able to discriminate between the twins.

The word discriminate acquires a negative connotation when someone treats another person wrongly based on unjust or unfair differences. Example: The company discriminates against women employees. The Apartheid policy in South Africa discriminated on the basis of color of the skin.

As if two prefixes, -in and -dis were not enough, we have another word clubbing both the prefixes – indiscriminate. This would mean randomly, without applying thought, without proper reason etc. Example: For the fault of one student, the entire class was punished indiscriminately. She gives away money to charity, rather indiscriminately, to anyone who asks.


Difference, is the way two or more things that you are comparing are not the same.
Examples: 1. The twins look the same in every way except their hairstyles.
2. The only difference between the two coffee is one has cream in it and the other does not.
The opposite of difference is same. When we say two things are the same, we mean there is no difference between them.
The word indifference is not the opposite of difference. Indifference does not mean ‘same’. Indifference means lacking in interest, concern, care or absence of sympathy. Indifference is an emotion or a state of mind.
Example 1: After a heated argument, when a couple is going through the period of cemetery silence, they are showing indifference towards each other. “I don’t care, what happens to you, I am not interested in your life anymore”, that is the message of indifference.
Example 2: As there was no possibility of a result in the game, the players became indifferent to the game.


Here is another word with the IN- prefix which is not the opposite of the word following it. Invaluable and valuable mean the same thing but there is a slight difference in degree. Invaluable means, priceless, of higher value. If your partner says, “You are a valuable member of the family”, you can say, “I am only valuable is it, I thought I was invaluable!”. That is just to trip them. While valuable can place a price on something, invaluable cannot place a price on it and it has something more than a price. When you say something is invaluable you are saying you cannot estimate the value of it as it is very much higher.
The opposite of both valuable and invaluable is worthless.
Note the difference in spellings of value, valuable and invaluable.


While dis- is definitely a prefix which when added to some words means the opposite of the word such as, disadvantage, distaste, disability, in some other words it is not a prefix.
DIscourage is not the opposite of courage. Discourage means to reduce enthusiasm or confidence.
My dad discouraged me from going abroad.
When I did not clear IELTS in the first attempt, I felt discouraged.
Encouraged means supporting someone’s enthusiasm and discouraged means the opposite. Courage though, a part of each word has no role in it. You can feel encouraged to try something even though you may not have the courage to do it! The opposite of courage is cowardly, timid, fearful depending on the context.
What seems like a prefix is not always a prefix, but don’t be discouraged to learn new words because of that.


Flammable and inflammable both mean the same thing. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t invent the words.
Inflammable means something that can be set on fire. Paper, cotton, petrol are inflammable materials. A tense situation (when you have forgotten your spouse’s birthday) can also be called inflammable. A person who is easily aroused to passion and anger can be said to have an inflammable character.
The word for something that cannot be set on fire (10th year of marriage with two kids?) is nonflammable, meaning fire-resistant.


Famous means being well-known.
Example: Lionel Messi is a famous football player.
Infamous does not mean obscure or unknown. It is not the opposite of famous. Infamous means being famous for negative reasons.
Example: Osama Bin Laden was an infamous terrorist.
People (infamous character), places (infamous roads), things (infamous knife), actions (infamous proposal) can be labelled infamous. Infamous is an adjective used to describe a noun.