13 English Verb Pairings Sent To Confuse Us

While English may be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world - and one of the easiest to learn - there are still plenty of things to trip up both learners and native speakers. It's no secret that no matter how simplified English may look at first glance, there are enough tricky homophones and strange pronunciations to make it hard to truly master.

No worries, though, because help is here! We've gone and collected 13 of the trickiest verb pairings to aid you in your quest to become a master of the language.

1. Say v Tell

say vs tell

Context

Say:
‘I didn't hear that, what did you just say?’
OR
‘How do you say goodbye in German?’

Tell:
‘I told him all about the party this weekend, don’t worry.’
OR
‘I can tell she stole it, I’m in no doubt.’

2. Lose v Loose

lose vs loose

Context

Lose:
‘I lost my keys again!’
OR
‘I was chased away, but I soon lost them.’

Loose:
‘It looks like the bolt is loose, we’re going to have to tighten it.’
OR
‘I have a loose plan for tonight.’

3. Adopt v Adapt

adopt vs adapt

Context

Adopt:
‘She adopted Jane when she was just 5 months old.’
OR
‘This technique was adopted by my company from the start of the year.’

Adapt:
I adapted this motor to work for my motorcycle, it fits!’
OR
‘We have to adapt to these hotter summers, buy a fan.’

4. Advice v Advise

advice vs advise

Context

Advice:
‘Paul gave me some great advice last night.’

Advise:
‘I would advise caution when you get there, it’s a scary area.’

5. Affect v Effect

affect vs effect

Context

Affect:
‘Gravity affects everything around us.’
OR
‘I was affected by that sad film last night.’

Effect:
‘Too much beer had an effect on his posture.’
OR
‘The special effects in that action film were impressive!’

6. To Bear v  To Bare

bear vs bare

Context

To bear:
‘These old walls can’t bear too much weight nowadays.’
OR
‘My poor friend had to bear a lot of pain after breaking their ankle.’

To bare:
‘My leg was bare, so I got a nice tan on the beach.’
OR
‘The bare facts, that’s all I need right now.’

7. Lie v Lay

lie vs lay

Context

Lie:
‘They lay on the soft bed and soon slept.’
OR
‘The building lay in ruins after the war.’

Lay:
‘We lay the planks down next to the house, ready for later.’
OR
‘Sister lay the forks out carefully, ready for dinner.’

8. Emigrate v Immigrate

emigrate vs immigrate

Context

Emigrate:
‘Arthur’s parents emigrated to Spain.’

Immigrate:
‘Howard was born in Israel, but immigrated to the USA.’

9. Sit v Set

sit vs set

Context

Sit:
‘Come on children, sit down!’

OR
‘Let’s have a sit in the sun.’

Set:
‘Set down your tools and get started.’
OR
‘The government set their plans in motion.’

10. Compliment v Complement

compliment vs complement

Context

Compliment:
‘He paid me an enormous compliment.’
OR
‘My compliments to the chef.’

Complement:
‘A good wine provides the perfect complement to this food.’
OR
‘Right now, we have a full complement of staff.’

11. Hanged v Hung

hanged vs hung

Context

Hanged:
‘This is where we hanged our washing’
OR
‘These photos were hanged on the wall’

Hung:
‘We currently have a hung parliament.’
OR
‘He’s still hung up on his ex-girlfriend.’

12. Rise v Raise

rise vs raise

Context

Rise:
‘Look how the aircraft can rise so fast.’
OR
‘Rise up from your seat, let’s go!’

Raise:
‘Can you believe it, I got a raise!’
OR
‘She raised her hands above her head.’

13. Expect v Hope

expect vs hope

Context

Expect:
‘He was not expecting him to continue.’
OR
‘John was expecting a visitor.’

Hope:
‘They hoped that they didn’t have a parking ticket.’
OR
‘Clara had great hope in Sandy’s character.’

About the Author

Sam Walker-Smart

Sam Walker-Smart is a British culture journalist currently based in Barcelona. His work has appeared in CLASH, The Huffington Post, Vinyl Me Please, Barcelona Metropolitan, Little White Lies, and many other outlets. He enjoys weird folklore, sad songs, and good beer.