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Frequently Confused Words 7

This is an exercise that will help you learn the differences between frequently confused words. We call them "Frequently Confused Words" sentence completion exercises because the key thing to learn here is the appropriate context in which you should use these words. Sometimes you can use both words, but one answer is more appropriate to use in that context. For other sentences, one word is the only possible answer. The explanations at the bottom of each page will clarify all of the answers if you're not sure about certain sentences.

1. The ____ between the bottom of the door and the floor is big enough for a mouse to walk through!



a. gap


b. hole


2. I ____ to eat a burger instead of fried chicken tonight. 


a. yearn


b. want


3. That Shakespeare play was long! I'm surprised I _____ it without falling asleep.

a. finished


b. got through



4. We wrote our own wedding ____ to say during the ceremony. 



a. vows


b. promises



5. "______ coffee and dessert after your meal?" the waiter asked the guests at the fancy restaurant.


6. My shirt is so old that it has a ____ in it!


a. gap


b. hole



7. The prisoner ____ freedom after being locked up for 10 years.



a. yearned for


b. wanted


8. We just ____ dinner, and now we're watching TV.


a. finished


b. got through


9. I ____ to never tell your secret to anyone.



a. vow


b. promise


10. ____ to watch the soccer game with me?



An explanation of the answers:


1. The key here is to realize that the sentence is describing a space between two things. Since a hole is an empty space in a single object (like a hole in a piece of paper), gap is the better answer because a gap is a space between two things--like the space between a door and the floor.


2. It's very important to think about the context of the sentence in number 2. This person is describing what he or she wants to eat for dinner tonight. We can use the general word "want" in this case, since it is clear the speaker is not starving. Somebody would yearn for food if they were very hungry or hadn't had a particular kind of food that they really like in a long time because "yearn" means to want something deeply.


3. To "get through" something means to finish something that is very long or difficult. to "finish" something, on the other hand, is the general word we use when something ends. Since the speaker had difficulty finishing the Shakespeare play, it would be more appropriate to use "get through" in this context (although "finish" would still be correct--though less descriptive).


4. A vow is a formal promise. Since a wedding is a very formal ceremony, "vow" is commonly used to describe the promises that a bride and groom make to each other.


5. "Would you care for" is a formal way of saying "Do you want." You can almost always use these interchangeably, although in formal settings, it is more polite to say "would you care for...?" 


6. Since this sentence is not about the space between two things, hole is the correct word to use in this context. Remember, a hole is an empty space in a single thing or object.


7. Since the prisoner in this sentence probably really wanted to leave prison after such a long stay there, he or she would be yearning for freedom. "Want" would be OK to use here, but it would be less descriptive. 


8. Since dinner is not usually something that is long or difficult, it is more appropriate to use the general word, finish, in this sentence.


9. Context is the key in number 9. Nothing in this sentence suggests that this is a formal setting. It sounds like something one friend might casually say to another. Therefore, "promise" is the more appropriate word for this sentence.


10. Since this sentence is about watching a soccer game, it is not a formal setting. It would sound silly if you asked, "Would you care to watch the soccer game?" In situations like this, stick with the general phrase, "Do you want...?"

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