Even the best writers can sometimes mix up the following words. Here are some tips to keep six frequently confused word pairs straight—with the help of some famous quotes!
Accept is a verb meaning "to receive."
"I have no methods; all I do is accept people as they are." – Joan Rivers
Except is usually a preposition meaning "to exclude."
"I can resist everything except temptation." – Oscar Wilde
Affect is most often used as a verb meaning "to influence."
"Video games don't affect kids. If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music." – Nintendo CEO
Effect is most often used as a noun meaning "a result."
"Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I realised that the imagery of my mind wasn't insanity." – John Lennon
Farther refers to a physical distance.
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther." – J.P. Morgan
Further refers to an extension of time or degree.
"If you can do what you do best and be happy, you're further along in life than most people." – Leonardo DiCaprio
Lay is a transitive verb meaning "to put or place."
"When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can say I was a decent person today. That's when I feel beautiful." – Drew Barrymore
Lie is an intransitive verb meaning "to recline or rest."
"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." – Dean Martin
Than is a conjunction used in comparisons.
"We loved with a love that was more than love." – Edgar Allan Poe
Then is an adverb denoting time.
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." – Mark Twain
"Which" introduces a non-restrictive clause that provides additional information but doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. A "which" clause is preceded by a comma. Does the first part of the sentence make sense on its own? Then a "which" is what you need.
"The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique." – Walt Disney
"That" is restrictive, meaning if you remove the part of the sentence introduced by "that," then the sentence will no longer make sense.
"I believe that when you put a smile out there, you get a smile back."
– Heidi Klum