Here is an alphabetized list of the most commonly confused words in the English language. The ones most common in student writing (and therefore the ones you should know by heart how to use) are in gold. When in doubt about a word, use the "find" function of your browser to skip to the entries you need on this list or consult a dictionary.
Accept, Except: Accept is a verb, meaning “to receive.” Except is a preposition meaning excluding.
Acute, Chronic: Acute means "sharp", as an acute illness is one that rapidly worsens and reaches a crisis. A chronic illness is a long lasting or lingering illness.
Ad, Add: Ad is a noun, short for advertisement. Add is a verb.
Adapt, Adept, Adopt: Adapt means “to adjust or become accustomed to” and is usually followed by to. Adept means "very skilled at something" and is an adjective. Adopt means “to take as one’s own.”
Adverse, Averse: Adverse is an attributive adjective meaning unfavorable, contrary, or hostile. Averse is a predicate adjective that means having a strong feeling of opposition or repugnance.
Advice, Advise: Advice is a noun; advise is a verb.
Affect, Effect: Affect is a verb meaning “to influence.” Effect is usually a noun meaning result. Effect is sometimes a verb meaning “to bring about.”
Agree to, Agree with: One agrees to a contract, process, or plan of action. One agrees with others on how they think or feel.
Aggravate, Irritate: Aggravate means “to make worse” (the lotion aggravated my skin), NOT “to annoy.” Irritate means "to annoy or cause discomfort."
Aid, Aide: Aid is a verb meaning "to help." Aide is a noun synonymous with "helper."
Aisle, Isle: An aisle is passage between seats or shelves. An isle is an island.
Alley, Ally: An alley is narrow back street, a path lined with trees, or a long game field. An ally is a friend.
All ready, Already: All ready means “completely prepared.” Already means “happened before.”
All together, Altogether: All together refers to everyone in a group gathered. Altogether means “entirely.”
Allude, Elude: To allude is "to refer to something." To elude is "to avoid discovery."
Allusion, Illusion: An allusion is a reference. An illusion is a false impression or misconception.
Almost, Most: Almost is an adverb meaning "nearly" (I almost fell down Mr. Burns's trap door). Most is an adjective meaning "of the greatest amount" (Mr. Burns is the most evil man in town). In formal writing, most cannot be a substitute for almost (Most everyone hates Mr. Burns).
Altar, Alter: Altar is a noun referring to a sacred place. Alter is a verb meaning "to change."
Alternately, Alternatively: Alternately is an adverb that means in turn (one after the other). Alternatively is an adverb that means on the other hand (one or the other).
a.m, p.m.: These are abbreviations for the Latin terms ante meridiem (before midday) and post meridiem (after midday). Like i.e., e.g., and other Latin abbreviations, the letters are always lowercase and use periods after each letter. a.m. and p.m. are only used with digits (9:30 p.m.), never spelled-out numbers (three a.m.).
Amoral, Immoral: Amoral describes an action or belief that is considered neither good nor evil; immoral describes an action or belief that is considered evil.
Anecdote, Antidote: An anecdote is an amusing or instructive story; an antidote is a cure for a poison but not a venom (see poisonous, venomous)
Ambiguous, Ambivalent: Ambiguous means “unclear or suggestive;” ambivalent means “torn between opposites.”
Amount, Number: Amount is used for items that are too numerous to count; number is used for items that can be counted.
Appraise, Apprise: To appraise is to assess or value something; to apprise is to teach or inform.
As, Because, Since: As conveys a time relationship (Homer ate the donut as he was watching TV). Because conveys a reason-focus (Homer only enjoyed work because he got free donuts). Since conveys a result-focus (Accidents at the plant doubled since Homer started working there). Notice that these conjunctions are similar but not interchangeable.
As, Like, Than: These prepositions define similes and thus seem interchangeable, but they aren't. As implies complete equivalence (I'm brave as a lion), like implies a similarity but not equivalence (I'm like a lion when I'm mad), and than implies having a similar feature in a greater amount (I'm fiercer than any lion).
Ascent, Assent: Ascent is a noun describing an upward climb. Assent is a verb meaning "to agree."
Assume, Presume: Assume is to suppose to be true, especially without proof. Presume is to take for granted as being true in the absence of proof to the contrary.
Assure, Ensure, Insure: To assure is to give confidence; to ensure is to make certain of; to insure is to purchase insurance
Auger, Augur: An auger is a handheld tool used for drilling holes. Augur is a verb meaning "to predict."
Awhile, A while: Awhile is an adverb; a while is a noun phrase.
Backup, Back up: Backup is a noun; back up is a verb phrase.
Belie: "To misrepresent;" it does not mean the opposite, i.e. "to give evidence of.”
Bemused: To be bemused is to be confused or bewildered, not to be confused with “amused.”
Beside, Besides: Beside is a preposition meaning “next to;” besides is a preposition meaning “except” or an adverb meaning “moreover”
Better: Better is a comparative adjective (I am better than Megan). If used as an adverb, it must be predicated with had if the verb is past tense (She had better be on fire to wake me up this late; I'd felt better after taking a nap).
Between, Among: Between is used for two people or items, while among is used for three or more.
Biannual, Semiannual: Bi means "two": a biannual event happens every two year. Semi means "half": a semiannual event happens twice a year.
Bisect, Dissect: Bisect means “to cut into two"; dissect means "to cut apart.”
Blond, Blonde: Both words mean pale yellow color. Blond modifies to men, groups (blond children), and objects (blond wood). Blonde modifies women.
Brake, Break: Brake means to stop, while break means to fracture or to stop work temporarily
Breath, Breathe: Breath is a noun, breathe is a verb.
Bring, Take: Bring is used when an object is coming nearer to you, while take is used when an object is coming nearer to you
Bunch: Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Brady, but a bunch formally refers only to a clustered collection of things (a bunch of bananas); a clustered collection of people is a group or a crowd.
Callous, Callus: Callous is an adjective meaning "insensitive and cruel." A callus is a thick, rough patch of skin.
Can, May: Can means “able to;” may means “has permission to”
Cannon, Canon: A cannon is a weapon, while canon is religious law or a set of written works
Cannot, Can not: Both cannot and can not are acceptable and interchangeable in all cases EXCEPT when there is another adverb between can and the verb--then the separated can not must be used (I can not just eat one).
Canvas, Canvass: Canvas is a noun (cloth), while canvass is a verb meaning to cover an area.
Capital, Capitol: Capital refers to a city or amount of money; capitol refers to a building where lawmakers meet
Censor, Censure: To censor is to remove an offensive item from public view or access. To censure is to formally announce the disapproval of a person or group. One censors a pornographic film and doesn't allow it to be shown, while the director is censured and criticized for his creation of the film. Note that both these words can also be nouns: a censor can be a person who provides censorship, and a censure can be a document or speech describing the disapproval of a person or group. Also note that neither of these words are sensor, which is a device built to detect something.
Chafe, Chaff: Chafe is a verb meaning "to damage by rubbing." Chaff is a noun referring to grain husks.
Chord, Cord: A chord is a series of harmonious notes or an emotion (He struck a chord). A cord is cable structured from many intertwined threads (a vocal cord) or 128 cubic feet of wood.
Climactic, Climatic: Climactic is derived from the word climax, the point of greatest intensity. Climatic is derived from the word climate; it refers to meteorological conditions.
Cloths, Clothes: Cloths is the plural of cloth. Clothes describes garments that are worn.
Coarse, Course: Coarse is an adjective meaning “rough;” course is a noun meaning a track or class.
Collaborate, Corroborate: Collaborate means to work with; corroborate means to support
Compare to / with / against: Compare to means to show similarities; compare with means to show differences; compare against means to show similarities and differences
Compelled, Impelled: Compelled means to be forced to do something by an outside force; impelled means to feel like you should do something.
Comprehensive, Comprehendible: Comprehensive means “covering all subjects;” comprehendible means “understandable.”
Compose, Comprise: Comprise means “is made up of;” compose means “to create or fashion.”
Complementary, Complimentary: Things or people that go together are complementary (they complete each other), while complimentary is an item given without charge.
Conscience, Conscious: Conscience is a noun referring to one’s moral guidance; conscious is an adjective meaning “awake” or “focused.”
Contiguous, Continual, Continuous: Contiguous means "touching;” continual means "repeated in rapid succession;" continuous means "uninterrupted"
Contingent, Contingency: A group is a contingent; a contingency is a possible event
Continual, Continuous: Continual means “frequently repeated,” while continuous means “without any interruption.”
Counsel, Council: Counsel is a verb meaning to give advice; council is a noun meaning a meeting or group.
Criteria: This term is plural. A singular rule is a criterion.
Cue, Queue: A cue is a signal, like a stage cue or a cue to leave. A queue is a line of people or vehicles.
Data: Though this term is plural (a singular piece of information is a datum), usage has changed and “data” can be singular as well.
Decimate: Decimate traditionally referred to an ancient wartime practice of killing one out of every ten members of a population. While modern uses of decimate do not need to adhere to exactly 10%, decimate still is only used a minority of a population (under 50%) is killed. Remember that decimate can only be used for a reduction of living populations (like from murder or illness); if destruction affects an environment in addition to living things, use “devastated.”
Demur, Demure: Demur is verb meaning "to object." Demure is an adjective meaning "shy or modest."
Desert, Dessert: A desert is a barren or uninhabited place. A dessert is the last course of a meal.
Device, Devise: Device is a noun; devise is a verb.
Die, Dye: Die is a verb meaning "to cease living" or a noun meaning either a single cube with numbers (plural is dice) or a mold to form objects (the die is cast). Dye is a noun meaning "a liquid pigment" or a verb meaning "to change color."
Differ from, Differ with: Differ from means “to be unlike;” differ with means “to disagree.”
Diffuse, Defuse: To diffuse is to disperse randomly, whereas to defuse is to remove the fuse from a bomb, or in general to render a situation less dangerous.
Disassemble, Dissemble: To disassemble means “to take apart;” to dissemble means "to tell lies".
Disburse, Disperse: To disburse means “to give out.” To disperse means “to scatter.”
Discomfit, Discomfort: Discomfit is a verb meaning "to confuse." Discomfort is a noun meaning "uncomfortable."
Discrete, Discreet: Discrete means separate, while discreet means tactful or discerning.
Discrimination, Segregation, Bias, Prejudice, Bigotry: Discrimination is the ability to recognize the difference between two or more things. Segregation is creating separate groups based on discrimination. Bias is a subjective preference for one side or group. Prejudice is the unfavorable view of one discriminate group over the other. Bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc) is the antagonistic action directed against a group based on prejudice. Discrimination, segregation, and bias are neutral terms that can have either positive or negative connotations (e.g. discriminating between right and wrong, segregating recyclables from compostables, bias for old black-and-white films); prejudice and bigotry, however, are always negative in nature (prejudice toward the elderly, racism against Jews).
Disinterested, Uninterested: To be disinterested in something means to be unbiased. To be uninterested means to not care.
Doubt that, Doubt if: Doubt that expresses conviction (I doubt that you care that much), while doubt if expresses uncertainty (I doubt if I will pass English).
Doughnut, Donut: Doughnut is the British spelling and is the more popular spelling in print. Donut is the American spelling and is the more popular spelling in the Internet age. Doughnut should be used when writing for an international audience--otherwise, either spelling is acceptable.
Dragged, Drug: Dragged is the past tense of the verb “drag.” Drug is a medical or mind-altering chemical substance.
Drank, Drunk: Drank is simple past of drink (I drank a glass of water). Drunk is used with a have modal to create a participle (I had drunk three Gatorades). These words are NOT interchangeable (I drunk a glass of water; I had drank three Gatorades). Drunk can also be an adjectival synonym for "intoxicated."
Dual, Duel: Dual means two; a duel is an armed contest to the death.
Each Other, One Another: Each other is for two; one another is for three or more
e.g., i.e.: The abbreviation e.g. stands for the Latin exempli gratiā (“for example”), and should be used when examples given are a few of many. The abbreviation i.e. stands for the Latin “id est” ("that is"), and is used to qualify or explain the statement just made. Like a.m.., p.m., and other Latin abbreviations, the letters are always lowercase and use periods after each letter.
Elicit, Illicit: Elicit is a verb meaning to bring out or to evoke. Illicit is an adjective meaning unlawful.
Emigrate, Immigrate: Emigrate means to leave one country or region. Immigrate means to enter another country and reside there.
Eminent, Imminent: Eminent means "important." Imminent means "happening soon."
Enormity: This word means “extreme evil,” not “extreme size.”
Envelop, Envelope: Envelop is a verb; envelope is a noun.
Equable, Equitable: Equable means "free from change." Equitable means "fair."
etc.: This is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase et cetera, meaning "and other things," and it follows at the end of an incomplete set of list items. There are four rules for using etc.: 1) Since etc. refers to things, it can't be used for people; 2) as a Latin abbreviation, etc. is never capitalized and must always end in a period; 3) etc. cannot be used with other Latin abbreviations like i.e. or e.g.; and 4) while there is no rule against using etc. in academic writing, it is best to avoid using it unless discussing a list of innumerable examples.
Every day, Everyday: “Every day” refers to the frequency of something; “everyday” is a synonym for “common.”
Extremely: This word means “at the most extreme” and should only be used when talking about something severe (Ex: extremely loud is on the extremes of the decibel scale).
Fad, Trend: Both a fad and a trend are widely spread enthusiasms for a product or style, yet a fad is short-lived and does not reoccur, while a trend is longer lasting and comes back from time to time. '90s fads included clear telephones, Pogs, Beanie Babies, and digital pets; '90s trends includes overalls, flannel overshirts, velvet chokers, and skateboarding.
Fare, Fair: A fare is a noun referring to a fee or food (Italian fare), while a fair is a noun referring to a community celebration. Fair can also be an adjective meaning "unbiased," "ample," "lightly colored," or "beautiful."
Farther, Further: Farther means a greater distance; further means more
Felt: Means touched, not believes
Flair, Flare: Flair is an adjective meaning style, while flare is a verb meaning to burn
Flesh out, Flush out: To flesh out is to add substance to an incomplete rendering (like flesh to a skeleton). To flush out is to frighten any quarry from a hiding place.
Flounder, Founder: To flounder is to be confused or indecisive, as if flopping about like a fish out of water. To founder is to fail
Forego, Forgo: Forego means "to go before." Forgo means "to go without."
Fortunate, Fortuitous: Fortunate means "lucky" (I was fortunate to grow up in Colorado); fortuitous means "happening by accident" (My sharing a cab with the boss was fortuitous).
Gambit, Gamut: A gambit is an action made to gain an advantage (an opening gambit). A gamut the complete range of options (to run the gamut of emotions).
Gibe, Jive, Jibe: Gibe means "to taunt or mock." Jive is foolish talk. Jibe is "to agree or align with."
Good, Well: Good is an adjective and only describes nouns, while well is an adverb and only describes verbs and adjectives
Gourmet, Gourmand: Gourmet describes expertly prepared food; a gourmand describes a food expert.
Grisly, Grizzly: Grisly means horrible, while grizzly means streaked with gray
Hay, Straw: Hay is a grassy plant used as animal fodder. Straw is the dry stalk of a cereal plant (e.g., barley, oats, rice, rye), after the grain or seed has been removed; it is used to line an animal's stall or for insulation.
Hanged, Hung: To hang something or someone in the present tense, one uses the same form. In the past, however, pictures are hung and criminals are hanged.
Hangar, Hanger: Airplanes go in the hangar; a coat goes on the hanger.
Hear, Here: To hear is to detect a sound with one's ears. Here refers to one's immediate location.
Hilarious, Hysterical: Hilarious means very funny and is positive; hysterical means having no control over one’s emotions and is negative
Historical, Historic: Historical means a thing happened in history, while historic means the thing was important in history
Hoard, Horde: A hoard is an accumulation of things. A horde is a large group of people.
However: If meaning “in whatever way,” it can be the first word in the sentence (However discouraging the prospect, he never lost heart). If meaning “nevertheless,” it should not be the first word in a sentence (At last, however, we succeeded.)
Imminent, Eminent: Imminent means soon to take place, while eminent means important
Imply, Infer: Imply means to suggest, while infer is to conclude
In, Into: In is a preposition indicating being in condition or location (I was in pain). Into is a preposition that transitions between one condition or location to another (I got into trouble) or interest (I am into bird watching).
Ingenious, Ingenuous: Ingenious is used to describe something brilliant or novel; ingenuous is used to describe something false or untrue.
Insolate, Insulate: Insolate means "to expose to sunlight;" insulate means "to envelop with material to prevent the transmission of heat, electricity, or sound.
Isle, Island: Both these words mean the same thing: a landmass surrounded entirely by water. The only difference between the two terms is their origin: Isle derives from Latin and is typically used by places originally conquered by the Spanish, French, or Italians. Island derives from Old English and is typically used by places originally conquered by the English, Scottish, Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians.
It's, Its: It's is a contraction that replaces “it is” or “it has.” Its means "belonging to it."
Kind of and Sort of: These words are substitutes for “a type of,” not “rather.”
Less, Fewer: Less refers to quantities that can’t be counted; fewer refers to quantities that can be counted.
Liable: Liable means “obligated or “legally responsible” not “likely to.”
Lie, Lay: Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. Lay is a transitive verb meaning to put or place.
Like: Like is a preposition and can only be followed by a noun or noun phrase. It is NOT a subordinate conjunction, and in the sentence “She looks like she could use a hug,” “like” is used incorrectly and should be replaced with “as if.”
Literally and Certainly: Should only be used for something that has actually happened, not for a figure of speech or synonym of “very.”
Loathe, Loath: Loathe is a verb meaning "to strongly dislike", and loath is an adjective meaning "unwilling" or "reluctant"
Lose, Loose: Lose is the opposite of win; loose is the opposite of tight
Mad: In formal writing, mad is never used as a synonym for "angry:" it can only be used as a synonym for "insane."
Many, Much: Many modifies plural count nouns (There were too many bugs). Much modifies noncount nouns without a unit (I didn't get much sleep). Much can also be an adverb (I love her so much) and both can be pronouns (Many believe Elvis is still alive; Much is still not known about dark energy).
Marinate, Marinade: Marinade is the noun and marinate is the verb.
Media: This term is plural. A singular channel of information is a medium.
Moral, Morale: Moral is a lesson, while morale is spirit
Nauseous: Nauseous means “to cause an ill feeling,” not “to feel ill.”
Oral, Verbal: Oral is just spoken; verbal can be spoken or written
Panacea: A “cure-all,” not just a cure for a single illness or problem.
Palate, Palette, Pallet: Palate is the roof of a mouth; a palette is an artist's paint holder; a pallet is a platform
Past, Passed: Past as a noun (stuck in the past), an adjective (the past two years), an adverb (fish swim past), or a preposition (it's past the deadline)--but past is never a verb. Passed is a verb meaning "to go by."
Peace, Piece: Peace means a calm, while a piece is a part of something
Peddle, Pedal, Petal: Peddle is a verb meaning "to sell items." Pedal is both a noun meaning "foot lever" (a bicycle pedal) and the verb meaning to operate said lever. A petal is a colorful segment of a flower.
Peel, Peal: A peel can be an outer coating (a banana peel) or to remove an outer coating (peel a banana). Peal refers to a loud noise, especially a bell's ring (peals of laughter) or the act of ringing (the bell pealed). Note that the idiom is "keep your eyes peeled," as in opened with the peel of one's eyelids removed.
Percent, Percentage: Percent is always used with a specific number, while percentage is used with general descriptions like “small.”
Persons, People: Persons are of a quantity that can be counted; people are of a quantity that cannot be counted.
Peruse: Peruse means “to review in-depth;” it does not mean skimming over information.
Phenomenon, Phenomena: Phenomenon is singular, while phenomena is plural.
Photogenic, Photographic: Photogenic means desirable to photograph. Photographic is anything pertaining to photography.
Plus: Cannot be used to combine two independent clauses
Point of View, Viewpoint: A point of view is an opinion or perspective; a viewpoint is a literal place where one can see something, like a “scenic viewpoint” on a tourist road
Poisonous, Venomous: Poisonous describes something that will hurt you if you ingest it; venomous describes something that will hurt you if it bites or scratches you. Additionally, the cure for a poison is an antidote, while the cure for a venom is antivenin (antivenom is not a real word)
Populous, Populace: Populace is a noun; populous is an adjective.
Premier, Premiere: Premier is the most importance or a prime minister; premiere is the opening night of a movie or play
Prescribe, Proscribe: To prescribe something is to command or recommend it. To proscribe somebody or something is to outlaw him, her, or it.
Prevaricate, Procrastinate: To prevaricate is to avoid telling the truth. To procrastinate is put off doing something.
Principle, Principal: Principal is a noun meaning the head of a school or a sum of money. Principle is a noun meaning a basic truth or law.
Progeny, Prodigy: Progeny are offspring or things that follow something. A prodigy is a genius or best example of something.
Prophecy, Prophesy: Prophecy is a noun; prophesy is a verb
Quotation, Quote: Quotation is a noun, while quote is a verb. You cannot “have a quote from the text” (The same goes for the words “citation” and “cite”).
Rack, Wrack: A rack is a physical framework for storage (a spice rack); wrack is another term for damage (wrack and ruin).
Rain, Reign, Rein: Rain can be a noun meaning water falling from clouds or a verb meaning "to fall down in cascades." Reign means "to rule." Rein means "to control" (free rein)--reins plural refer to leather straps used to control a horse.
Raise, Rise, Raze: Raise is a transitive verb and requires a direct object. Rise is an intransitive verb. Raze means to completely destroy down to the foundation.
Real, Really: Real is an adjective; really is an adverb.
Redundant, Repetitive: Redundant means “unneeded;” repetitive means “mentioned several times.”
Regimen, Regiment: A regimen is a system of order. A regiment is a military unit.
Redundant: Redundant does not mean "useless" or "unable to perform its function". It means that there is an excess of something that is no longer needed.
Reluctant, Reticent: Reluctant means “unwilling to act;” reticent means “unwilling to speak.”
Seasonal, Seasonable: Seasonal refers to only happening at a certain time year. Seasonable means the noun suits the season (snow is seasonable weather for winter).
Sensual, Sensuous: Sensual means “gratifying to the physical senses” and has sexual connotations; sensuous means “pleasing to the senses” and is used to describe art.
Session, Cession: A session is a meeting; cession means “to stop.
Set, Sit: Sit is an intransitive verb meaning to be seated; set is a transitive verb meaning to place
Shear, Sheer: Shear means to clip or shave, while sheer means clear or transparent
Shirk, Shrink: To shirk means "to consistently avoid;” to shrink means "to contract."
Since: This word denotes a relationship in time; do not use as a synonym for “because.”
Since, Sense: Since is an adverb or a preposition; sense is a noun.
Sight, Site, Cite: A sight is something seen; a site is a place. To cite is to quote or list as a source.
Slander, Libel: Both slander and libel involve making untrue statements against a person that damages his or her reputation. However, slander is a spoken untrue statement while libel is a written untrue statement.
Smelt: The word smelt means "to extract metal from rock ore by melting it;" this word is not the past tense of smell (that word is smelled).
Staring, Starring: Staring is the present perfect form of the verb “stare;” starring is the present perfect form of the verb “star.”
Stanch, Staunch: Stanch is a verb meaning "to stop" (to stanch the flooding). Staunch is an adjective meaning "firm and dependable" (a staunch advocate).
Stationary, Stationery: Stationary means not moving, while stationery is fancy paper.
Striping, Stripping: Striping is the present perfect form of the verb “stripe;” stripping is the present perfect form of the verb “strip.”
Subsequently, Consequently: Subsequently means "to follow in order after." Consequently means "as a result of that."
Taught, Taut: Taught is the past tense of teach. Taut means "without slack" (the rope is taut).
Than, Then: Than is a conjunction used in comparisons; then is an adverb denoting time.
Temblor, Trembler: A temblor is an earthquake; trembler is something that trembles.
Too, To, Two: Too is an adverb; to is a preposition; two is a number.
There, Their, They're: There is an adverb specifying place. Their is a possessive pronoun. They're is a contraction of they are.
Throe, Throw: Throe is a spasm; throw means to pass an object back and forth through the air.
Travesty: Travesty means “a mockery,” not “a tragedy”
Trimester: A trimester is a period of three months, commonly used in conjunction with a nine-month academic year or a term of human pregnancy. A trimester is not a synonym for one third.
Ultimate: The word ultimate means “last” or “final,” not “the best.”
Unique: Unique means one-of-a-kind and cannot be used with qualifiers like “very” or “rather.”
Utilize: This word refers to literally handling a physical hand tool. One can utilize a wrench, but cannot utilize language or a computer.
Utensil: This refers to a handheld kitchen tool or vessel-- for any item not involved with the kitchen, use “instrument”
Venal, Venial: Venal means corrupt; venial means not serious
Warranty, Warrantee: A warranty is a legal assurance that some object meets certain quality standards. A warrantee is the person who benefits from a warranty (the verb form is warrant)
Wary, Weary: Wary means suspicious; weary means tired.
Want, Won't, Wont: Want means the act of desiring something (I want candy) or needing something (I am in want of a house). Won't is a contraction for “will not.” Wont (pronounced like want) is a word meaning "inclined to" (as an adjective) or "habit or custom" (as a noun).
Weather, Whether: Weather is a noun referring to temperature and precipitation; whether is conjunction indicating alternatives
Who, Whom: Who is a subjective pronoun, while whom is an objective pronoun.
Who, Which, That: Do not use which to refer to people. Use who instead. That, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to groups
Who's, Whose: Who's is a contraction for "who is" or "who has". Whose is an interrogative word or a relative pronoun
Would, Could, Should: Would is conditional but not certain; could is capable of; should is almost completely certain. Also, these words should not be paired with of (would of, could of, should of): in these instances, the correct modal verb is have (would have, could have, should have).
Wrangle, Wangle: Wrangle means to fight or control an animal (wrangle a steer); wangle means to gain through persuasion (I wangled a couple of tickets to the concert). Wangle is a synonym of “obtain;” wrangle is not.
Wreck, Wreak: Wreck can be a noun meaning "a destroyed ruin" or a verb meaning "to ruin." Wreak can only be a verb and means "to inflict" (wreak havoc).
Your, You're: Your is a possessive pronoun; you're is a contraction of you are.