Not all of the commonly confused words in English look or even sound alike. Nevertheless, the quick tempo of modern life – and the language itself – often obscures these distinctions. The letter p, for example, has a number of these example where two distinct words appear to be almost twins.
Past vs Passed
While many people often believe these words sound the same, a more careful pronunciation of each reveals their distinctions. When both are said aloud, for example, the final letter of each should be clear. Past, which means at an earlier time, ends with a nice crisp t while passed, the past tense of pass, ends with the softer d. Remember things clearly this way: “Dee passed the tea in the past but now we drink coffee!”
Patience vs Patients
Even native speakers confuse these two but the differences should be quite clear to all. Though they do, in truth, sound the same, patience with a c is an adjective used when people tolerate annoyances well. Patients, on the other hand, are people under medical care. Thus while patients often need patience, the opposite cannot be true!
Peace vs Piece
Though these two nouns sound just about the same – both rhyme with niece, lease, and fleece – they are used to describe wildly different things. Peace, for example, describes a state of being without war while a piece is simply a part of a whole. Thus we could say that peace is the most important piece of tranquil international affairs.
Plain vs. Plane
Though both of these words rhyme with insane, you do not have to be to keep them apart! Plain with an i is an adjective meaning “ordinary” while plane with an e is a shortened version of the noun “airplane”. Thus while a plane could be described as plain, the opposite is grammatically impossible!