Home > Common Article, Language Focus, Recommended For Students > CONFUSING ENGLISH WORDS AND PHRASES (AGAIN)


If I may say, 90% or more—I never did a real deep observation—English learners are often confused with so many things besides grammar: homophones, phrasal verbs, idioms, etc. And until today, I am myself still experiencing the difficulties too.

I have read one or two books and English blog that revealing the confusion matters above. And I think, it will be good to re-share it here, especially to be a reminder for myself.

The following words and phrases are commonly used and quite confusing in the daily conversation. Let’s check them out!

Angry at and angry with

Maybe people say that angry at refers to the condition (e.g. I angry at my position), while angry with refers to the people. I mean angry with sense more personal (e.g. I angry with Julia). In fact, both of angry at and angry with are interchangeable. So, “I angry with you!” or “I angry at you!” are grammatically correct.

Into and onto

Technically, in means something inside of another thing while on means something above another thing. So, into means to put something (e.g. pencil) so that the thing is now located inside of another thing (e.g. box), and onto means to put something (e.g. book) so that the thing is now located above another thing (e.g. table).

into vs. onto

The same as and the same

Both of them have the same meaning, but the same as is used between two nouns being compared, and the same is used after the two nouns or a plural noun. Example: “Lombok is the same as Bali” and “Lombok and Bali are the same.

Similar to and similar

Just the same as “the same as” and “the same”, the similarity between similar to and similar has the same explanation. Example: “Lombok is similar to Bali” and “Lombok and Bali are similar”.

Like and alike

They have the same meaning (and the same explanation as no. 3 and 4 above). They just have small difference where like is used between two nouns compared and alike is used after two nouns. Example: “My village now feels like a city, so crowded!” and “My village and the city nearby are alike.

Different, different from, and to differ from

They have the same meaning, but different from is used between two nouns being compared and different is used after two nouns. While to differ from is a verb. Example: “My sister is different from you”, “My sister and you are different”, and “Bali differs from Jakarta”.

While vs. whilst (and also among vs. amongst)

These 4 words are the same in their usage and meaning. They just different each other in their writing form. Just choose the one you feel “comfort” to use it. People in the blog such as Grammar Monster or in a forum like Wordreference explain that whilst and amongst are “the older versions” of while and among. The older forms are commonly used in Britain and considered to be a more formal and literary word than their counterparts. For more explanation and examples, please join the conversation here and here.

  1. April 22, 2014 at 1:04 am

    there are a lot confusing words and phrases which make me confused in learning English. but I keep learning

    • April 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Hi 😀
      Confusing words and phrases are everywhere. We can find them during conversation and online chat. Do you have a good link(s) that show us the “collection” of those confusing words/phrases?


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