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Vocabulary: Common Confusions - Intermediate Level

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Studying vocabulary is not only studying what words mean. As the Advanced Dictionary Skills program teaches you, to use vocabulary correctly you need to know about collocation, connotation, and how to use words in phrases and sentences; i.e. how a word fits into a sentence grammatically. Vocabulary also involves choosing the correct word to express your meaning from a number of similar words.

Many errors in English are a result of interference from the speaker/writer's own language, or because they are, for example, unsure of the ending of the word. The following exercise focuses on a variety of common vocabulary and grammar-based errors made by Hong Kong students. It will help you to solve individual problems and generally improve your proofreading and checking skills. The feedback gives some hints and rules.

Question 1:
ALTHOUGH/BUT/DESPITE: are all linking words expressing contrast or contradiction but they are used differently within a sentence. Choose the correct sentence(s).

  1. Although it was raining but we still went hiking.
  2. It was raining but we still went hiking.
  3. Although it was raining, we still went hiking.
  4. We still went hiking although it was raining.
  5. Despite it was raining, we still went hiking.

Question 2:
WORK/JOB, GOOD/WELL Choose the correct sentence(s).

  1. We'll need extra time for this project, it's a hard work.
  2. We'll need extra time for this project, it's a hard job.
  3. She works very well in her new job.
  4. The food is very well at the Mandarin Hotel.
  5. I don't feel too good.

Question 3:
ABROAD/ABOARD, BROUGHT/BOUGHT Choose the correct sentence(s).

  1. She brought some lovely carpets in Turkey, while she was abroad.
  2. Cynthia brought her cassette player and music to the party.
  3. When my uncle went abroad, he brought me back some lovely souvenirs.
  4. The Captain asked us abroad to see the ship.
  5. When the fleet came in, the officers' wives and families were invited aboard.

Question 4:
HARD/HARDLY: Choose the correct sentence(s).

  1. We'll need extra time on this project; it's really hard work.
  2. We'll need extra time on this project although we're working hardly on it.
  3. 'Nearly New' shops sell clothes which are second hand but hard worn.
  4. "I can't ask him out; I hardly know him!"
  5. It's hard to remember a time when the Internet didn't exist.

Question 5:
Countable and Uncountable nouns. Which sentences are correct?.

  1. He uses a lot of slangs and swear words
  2. I'll email you all the necessary information.
  3. The news are nearly always bad these days.
  4. The police are doing their best to minimise crime.
  5. Her advices are always good.

Question 6:
Common Errors: Which sentences are correct?.

  1. I am agree with Mr. Chan
  2. Many and many people go to China for the New Year.
  3. The MTR doesn't spend long from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui.
  4. Hong Kong is politically stable.
  5. Hong Kong is also regaining its prosperous.

Question 7:
Common Errors: Which sentences are correct?

  1. Hong Kong is one of the most developed cities in Asia.
  2. Students can lend books from the PolyU library for up to a month.
  3. I am quite difficult to get to Mai Po bird sanctuary.
  4. This is an exercise about vocabularies.
  5. According to my opinion, the Science museum is the most interesting place to spend a rainy afternoon.

Question 8:
Active and Passive Verbs. Which sentences are correct?

  1. The PolyU is situated in Hung Hom.
  2. Charlie borned in Kowloon.
  3. The film's name is called 'The King and I'
  4. Videos can be borrowed by leaving an I.D card and a deposit of $50.
  5. He heavily involves in politics.

Question 9:
Verb forms. Which sentences are correct?

  1. I'm always happy TO SEE him.
  2. Last Sunday I went TO SHOP with my cousin.
  3. A funny thing HAPPENED to me on my way to the ferry last night.
  4. It is worth PAYING a little more for good quality.
  5. You NEEDN'T TO WORRY; her pet boa constrictor is completely harmless!

Question 10:
Noun or adjective: Which sentences are correct?

  1. I'm anxious to know my exam results as soon as possible.
  2. The China government is imposing tight controls on the Falun Gong movement.
  3. Oscar Wilde wrote the play "The Importance of Being Earnest".
  4. The Industrial Revolution caused major changes in Britain.
  5. The hovercraft is more convenience for crossing the harbour than the bus during rush hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations, you have finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback for Question 1, Choice 'a': "Although it was raining but we still went hiking."
No, incorrect. Both ALTHOUGH and BUT are conjunctions indicating a contrast of ideas within a sentence: we only use one. ALTHOUGH introduces the subordinate clause, BUT suggests a contrast or contradiction with what has gone before.
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Feedback for Question 1, Choice 'b': "It was raining but we still went hiking."
Good: BUT suggests a contrast or contradiction with what has gone before.
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Feedback for Question 1, Choice 'c': "Although it was raining, we still went hiking."
Good: ALTHOUGH indicates a contrast and it introduces the subordinate clause. N.B punctuation (comma after subordinate clause).
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Feedback for Question 1, Choice 'd': "We still went hiking although it was raining."
Good: ALTHOUGH indicates a contrast and it introduces the subordinate clause, but that clause can come before or after the main one. N.B punctuation (NO comma after the subordinate clause when it follows the main one.)
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Feedback for Question 1, Choice 'e': "Despite it was raining, we still went hiking."
No, incorrect: DESPITE is a preposition used to suggest a contrast or contradiction with what has gone before, but it takes a noun subject. This sentence correctly reads: "Despite the rain, we still went hiking."
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Feedback for Question 2, Choice 'a': "We'll need extra time for this project, it's a hard work."
No, sorry: WORK is an uncountable noun (or a verb) so it doesn't take an article (a/an, the).
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Feedback for Question 2, Choice 'b': "We'll need extra time for this project, it's a hard job."
Good: JOB is a countable noun so needs an article (a/an, the).
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Feedback for Question 2, Choice 'c': "She works very well in her new job."
Good: WORK is a verb here and WELL is an adverb.
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Feedback for Question 2, Choice 'd': "The food is very well at the Mandarin Hotel."
No, incorrect: GOOD is an adjective, WELL is an adverb. This suggests that the food is still alive and healthy!
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Feedback for Question 2, Choice 'e': "I don't feel too good."
No, incorrect: FEEL is a verb so strictly speaking the correct sentence reads "I don't feel too well". But some native speakers, especially Americans, will say "I don't feel too good".
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Feedback for Question 3, Choice 'a': She brought some lovely carpets in Turkey, while she was abroad.
No: ABROAD means 'overseas', so this is correct but the verb isn't. The correct sentence reads 'She BOUGHT some lovely carpets in Turkey, while she was abroad.'
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Feedback for Question 3, Choice 'b': "Cynthia brought her cassette player and music to the party."
Good. BROUGHT is often used with 'to' as it suggests moving something from A to B.
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Feedback for Question 3, Choice 'c': "When my uncle went abroad, he brought me back some lovely souvenirs. "
Good, both words are correctly used here. BROUGHT often collocates with 'back'.
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Feedback for Question 3, Choice 'd': "The Captain asked us abroad to see the ship."
No, incorrect: this implies you left the country at the Captain's expense!
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Feedback for Question 3, Choice 'e': "When the fleet came in, the officers' wives and families were invited aboard."
Good: ABOARD means onto a ship ( the verb is to BOARD a ship).
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Feedback for Question 4, Choice 'a': "We'll need extra time on this project; it's really hard work."
Good, HARD is an adjective collocating with WORK to mean tiring, exhausting.
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Feedback for Question 4, Choice 'b': "We'll need extra time on this project although we're working hardly on it."
No, incorrect: the adverb is the same as the adjective, i.e HARD. The adverb HARDLY means 'only just' or 'not quite/much'
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Feedback for Question 4, Choice 'c': "'Nearly New' shops sell clothes which are second hand but hard worn."
No, incorrect: the meaning here is 'not worn much at all', so the correct sentence reads "Nearly New shops sell clothes which are second hand but HARDLY worn."
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Feedback for Question 4, Choice 'd': ""I can't ask him out; I hardly know him!""
Good: this is correct usage for the adverb HARDLY.
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Feedback for Question 4, Choice 'e': "It's hard to remember a time when the Internet didn't exist."
Good: the adjective HARD also means difficult.
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Feedback for Question 5, Choice 'a': "He uses a lot of slangs and swear words"
No, incorrect. SLANG is uncountable.
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Feedback for Question 5, Choice 'b': "I'll email you all the necessary information."
Good: INFORMATION is uncountable.
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Feedback for Question 5, Choice 'c': "The news are nearly always bad these days."
No, incorrect. NEWS is uncountable.
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Feedback for Question 5, Choice 'd': "The police are doing their best to minimise crime."
Good: POLICE = plural, although you can say 'a policeman/woman is...' or 'the policeforce is...'
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Feedback for Question 5, Choice 'e': "Her advices are always good."
No, incorrect: ADVICE is uncountable.
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Feedback for Question 6, Choice 'a': "I am agree with Mr. Chan"
No, incorrect: AGREE is a verb not an adjective. The correct sentence reads 'I agree with Mr. Chan
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Feedback for Question 6, Choice 'b': "Many and many people go to China for the New Year."
No, incorrect: you can say 'more and more' or 'lots and lots' but not 'many and many'.
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Feedback for Question 6, Choice 'c': "The MTR doesn't spend long from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui."
No, incorrect: the correct verb is TAKE for a journey, although you can spend time WITH someone or ON something e.g a project.
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Feedback for Question 6, Choice 'd': "Hong Kong is politically stable."
Good: STABLE is the noun and STABILITY the adjective.
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Feedback for Question 6, Choice 'e': "Hong Kong is also regaining its prosperous."
No, incorrect: PROSPERITY is the noun, PROSPEROUS is the adjective.
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Feedback for Question 7, Choice 'a': "Hong Kong is one of the most developed cities in Asia."
Yes, we say 'CITIES', i.e plural, because Hong Kong (singular)is being compared with other cities (plural.)
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Feedback for Question 7, Choice 'b': "Students can lend books from the PolyU library for up to a month."
No, incorrect: the library lends (gives) you books but you BORROW (temporarily receive) them.
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Feedback for Question 7, Choice 'c': "I am quite difficult to get to Mai Po bird sanctuary".
No, incorrect: the correct sentence reads 'IT IS quite difficult to get to Mai Po bird sanctuary'. The difficulty refers to the getting there, not to a person.
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Feedback for Question 7, Choice 'd': "This is an exercise about vocabularies".
No, incorrect: VOCABULARY is uncountable.
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Feedback for Question 7, Choice 'e': "According to my opinion, the Science museum is the most interesting place to spend a rainy afternoon."
No, incorrect: we say 'IN MY opinion' (self) or ACCORDING TO X (another person).
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Feedback for Question 8, Choice 'a': "The PolyU is situated in Hung Hom."
Yes, TO BE SITUATED is used in the passive when referring to buildings, sites etc. 'The PolyU situates...' is WRONG!
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Feedback for Question 8, Choice 'b': "Charlie borned in Kowloon."
No. The correct sentence reads 'Charlie WAS BORN in Kowloon'. Remember, the active person involved was the mother, not the child.
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Feedback for Question 8, Choice 'c': "The film's name is called 'The King and I' "
No, sorry; the tense (passive) is correct but we say EITHER 'The film's name is ...' OR 'The film is called...", not both.
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Feedback for Question 8, Choice 'd': "Videos can be borrowed by leaving an I.D card and a deposit of $50."
Good; the person borrows, the object IS BORROWED.
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Feedback for Question 8, Choice 'e': "He heavily involves in politics."
No, the correct sentence reads 'He IS HEAVILY INVOLVED in politics'. (N.B word order).
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Feedback for Question 9, Choice 'a': "I'm always happy TO SEE him."
Yes, adjectives are generally followed by an infinitive.
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Feedback for Question 9, Choice 'b': "Last Sunday I went TO SHOP with my cousin. "
No, sorry: if you're describing an activity, the gerund/'ing' form is generally used. The correct sentence reads 'Last Sunday I went SHOPPING with my cousin.
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Feedback for Question 9, Choice 'c': "A funny thing HAPPENED to me on my way to the ferry last night."
Good, with HAPPEN, the situation is the subject and the person the object so the verb is active.
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Feedback for Question 9, Choice 'd': "It is worth PAYING a little more for good quality."
Good, the ING form follows the phrase 'It is worth'.
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Feedback for Question 9, Choice 'e': "You NEEDN'T TO WORRY; her pet boa constrictor is completely harmless!"
No, sorry; most modal verbs are not followed by 'TO': the correct sentence reads You NEEDN'T WORRY.
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Feedback for Question 10, Choice 'a': "I'm anxious to know my exam results as soon as possible."
Yes, ANXIOUS is an adjective, ANXIETY is the noun.
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Feedback for Question 10, Choice 'b': "The China government is imposing tight controls on the Falun Gong movement."
No, China is the name of the country, CHINESE is the adjective referring to people, language or other nouns.
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Feedback for Question 10, Choice 'c': "Oscar Wilde wrote the play "The Importance of Being Earnest"."
Yes, IMPORTANCE is the noun, IMPORTANT the adjective.
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Feedback for Question 10, Choice 'd': "The Industrial Revolution caused major changes in Britain."
Yes, INDUSTRIAL is the adjective, INDUSTRY the noun.
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Feedback for Question 10, Choice 'e': "The hovercraft is more convenience for crossing the harbour than the bus during rush hours."
No, CONVENIENT is the adjective, CONVENIENCE the noun. Other noun/adjective pairs have similar endings; 'ient' for adjectives, 'ience' for nouns e.g patient/patience, ambient/ambience etc.
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Last updated on: Monday, March 26, 2012