Easily confused words

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Easily confused words

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Sensible and sensitive are two words that look and sound similar but have very different meanings. They are often confused in English. Find out more about words that are easily confused in this 6 minute Vocabulary.

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Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I’m Catherine…

Neil And I’m Neil.

Catherine Neil, like your hat!

Neil Thank you very much. It’s cold outside, so I thought it would be sensible to wear a woolly hat.

Catherine Yes.

Neil My ears are very sensitive to the cold.

Catherine I’ve noticed your ears looking a little bit red of a morning, occasionally, Neil. And the words sensible and sensitive are good examples of today’s topic. The two words look and sound similar, but they have very different meanings. And in this programme we’re going to talk about more pairs of words that people sometimes get mixed up.

Neil Now let’s now hear about Mike. He was in a shop yesterday when he made a mistake.

Catherine Think about this question while you listen: What mistake did Mike make in the shop?

INSERT Mike felt bored . He was watching a boring film about plants in the desert . ‘I know - I’ll make a cake’, he thought. ‘We’ll have it for dessert ‘. The recipe looked easy - just a few ingredients . But when Mike checked the contents of his cupboard, there wasn’t any sugar. He went to the shop and bought some. The cake looked great. But it tasted horrible. Mike checked the receipt . He’d bought salt by mistake!

Catherine So we asked you: What mistake did Mike make in the shop?

Neil And the answer is: He bought salt instead of sugar.

Catherine Yes, the receipt said ‘salt’ but the recipe, of course, said ‘sugar’.

Neil The nouns receipt and recipe look very similar, but they have different meanings. A receipt , r - e - c - e - i - p - t, is a document that shows you have paid money for something.

Catherine Yes, and a recipe , r - e - c - i - p - e, is a set of cooking instructions.

Neil Listen to a clip from Mike’s story. Can you spot two more confusing words?

INSERT CLIP 1 He was watching a boring film about plants in the desert . ‘I know - I’ll make a cake’, he thought. ‘We’ll have it for dessert ‘.

Neil So that’s desert and dessert .

Catherine Yep. Now a desert is an area of land where very little can grow and there’s very little water. Desert, d - e - s - e - r - t, has one ‘s’, but dessert , d - e - s - s - e - r - t, has two ‘s’. A dessert is a sweet food course that we eat at the end of a meal. Right. Moving on. Neil, what do you do when you are bored ?

Neil Well I find making cakes boring .

Catherine Really?

Neil Yeah. When I’m bored , I knit.

Catherine You knit?

Neil Yeah.

Catherine Of course - the hat! The woolly hat!

Neil Yes, I knitted this woolly hat.

Catherine It’s fantastic!

Neil Bored and boring - both adjectives, but with very different meanings.

Catherine Bored , b - o - r - e - d, describes how someone is feeling, when they are not interested in something. Boring , b - o - r - i - n - g, describes a thing that is not very interesting. Right. Let’s have another clip.

INSERT 1 CLIP 2 The recipe looked easy - just a few ingredients . But when Mike checked the contents of his cupboard, there wasn’t any sugar.

Neil The words ingredients and contents both mean things that are a part of something else. Individual ingredients are things that we put together to make something, usually food - a cake for example. Contents are all the separate items inside something like a box or a cupboard.

IDENT 6 Minute Vocabulary, from bbclearningenglish.com.

Catherine And we’re talking about confusing words.

Neil And it’s time for a quiz. Choose the correct word. Number one: I can’t eat ice cream. My teeth are too… Is it a) sensible or b) sensitive?

Catherine And it’s b) sensitive .

Neil Well done if you got that right. Number two: Very little rain falls in the… Is it a) desert or b) dessert?

Catherine And the answer is a) desert .

Neil And number three: I had to wait an hour for my appointment - I got really …. Is it a) boring or b) bored?

Catherine And the answer is b) bored .

Neil And that’s the end of the quiz - well done if you got them right.

Catherine And it’s almost the end of the programme.

Neil But before we go, here’s today’s top tip for learning vocabulary: say new words out loud as you learn them - the word stress will help you to remember which is the correct word to use if you are not so sure.

Catherine There’s more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both Bye.

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