Use To or Used To | Difference & Example Sentences

Used to and use to are related phrases that can have the same meaning but are used differently.

  • Used to is a verb that indicates a past habit, action, or state. It can also be used as an adjective meaning ‘accustomed to’.
  • Use to also indicates a past habit, action, or state, but it’s only used in combination with ‘did’, ‘did not’, or ‘didn’t’.
Examples: ‘Used to’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Use to’ in a sentence
Sophie lives near the train tracks, so she’s used to a lot of noise. Did you use to be a musician?
There used to be a library in the city, but it closed down. Zack didn’t use to care about politics.
Note
The confusion regarding used to and use to is partly due to the blended ‘d’ sound at the end of ‘used’ and the ‘t’ sound at the beginning of ‘to’, which means the two spellings are pronounced similarly. However, in formal and academic writing, it’s important to note the difference.

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Flier vs Flyer | Difference & Example Sentences

Flier and flyer are nouns that can be used to refer to a person or thing that flies, or more specifically to a leaflet. While the words are often used interchangeably, there is a general trend:

  • Flier is commonly used to refer to someone or something that flies. It is also used in the expression ‘take a flier’.
  • Flyer is the more common spelling for an advertising leaflet.
Examples: ‘Flier’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Flyer’ in a sentence
Jane has frequent flier miles because she travels a lot for work. Luis found out about the fundraiser from a flyer someone gave him.
Some birds, like the grey-headed albatross, are very strong fliers. Instead of handing out flyers, we created a post online and asked people to share it.
Note
This article describes the general trend in how the two spellings are used, but different style guides give contradictory advice on this issue.

If you’re not bound by a specific style guide, use ‘flyer’ to refer to a leaflet and whichever spelling you prefer for other meanings, and no one is likely to object.

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Then or Than | Difference & Example Sentences

Then and than are two commonly confused words with different meanings and grammatical roles.

  • Then (pronounced with a short ‘e’ sound) refers to time. It’s typically an adverb, but it’s also used as a noun meaning ‘that time’ and as an adjective referring to a previous status.
  • Than (pronounced with a short ‘a’ sound) is used to express comparison. Grammatically, it usually functions as a conjunction, but sometimes it’s a preposition.
Examples: ‘Then’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Than’ in a sentence
Follow the road for another mile, and then take the exit. Brie is a better golfer than you.
I was working in a bookstore then. I often like planning a holiday more than I like the holiday itself.

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Payed or Paid | Difference & Example Sentences

Payed and paid are pronounced similarly but have different meanings.

  • Payed is a rare word that’s only used in nautical/maritime contexts. It can be used to refer to the act of coating parts of a boat with waterproof material or to the act of letting out a rope or chain by slackening it.
  • Paid is the much more common word, used as the past tense of the verb ‘pay’ in all other senses.
Examples: ‘Payed’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Paid’ in a sentence
The sailors payed the front of the boat with tar to seal the gaps. We paid more for the meal than we had expected.
Liam untied the knot and payed out the rope to Bill. Sophia gets paid at the beginning of each month.
Note
People sometimes mistakenly write payed because it seems like the more logical past tense spelling of ‘pay’, but paid is the correct choice in the vast majority of cases.

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Whose vs Who’s | Difference & Example Sentences

Whose and who’s are pronounced the same but fulfill different grammatical roles.

  • Whose is the possessive form of the pronoun ‘who’.
  • Who’s is a contraction (shortened form) of ‘who is’ or ‘who has’.
Examples: ‘Whose’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Who’s’ in a sentence
Whose book is this? Who’s the man wearing a suit?
Philip, whose job was very demanding, needed a holiday. Who’s eaten at this restaurant before?

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Capital vs Capitol | Difference & Example Sentences

Capital and capitol are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

  • Capital is the more common word, with a wider range of meanings. It can be used as a noun to refer to financial assets, to a city serving as the official seat of government, or to an uppercase letter. It can also be used as an adjective to mean ‘vital’, ‘excellent’, or ‘punishable by death’.
  • Capitol is a noun that refers to the building in which the legislative government meets.
Examples: ‘Capital’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Capitol’ in a sentence
Thanks to new investors, the business has a lot of capital. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of congress.
Springfield is the capital city of Illinois. The state capitol of Utah is located on North State Street, in Salt Lake City.

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Principal vs Principle | Difference & Examples

Principle and principal are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

  • Principal can be used as a noun to refer to a person in authority, the perpetrator of a crime, or the capital sum of a loan. It can also be used as an adjective to mean ‘most important’ or ‘primary’.
  • Principle is a noun used to refer to a scientific, moral, or legal rule or standard.
Examples: ‘Principal’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Principle’ in a sentence
The principal of the school is very strict when it comes to attendance. Chris refused to pay the extra shipping costs on principle.
The principal finding of the study is questionable. Isaac Newton uncovered the principles of gravity and motion.

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Loose or Lose | Difference & Example Sentences

Loose and lose are pronounced differently and typically have different grammatical roles.

  • Loose (double ‘o’; pronounced [loo-s]) is an adjective or adverb meaning ‘not secure’ or ‘not tight’. It can also be used as a verb to mean ‘release’.
  • Lose (one ‘o’; pronounced [loo-z]) is a verb that can be used to mean ‘misplace’ or ‘suffer a loss’.
Examples: ‘Loose’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Lose’ in a sentence
I need to fix the door because the handle is loose. Make sure you don’t lose your house keys.
Myles likes his new jeans, even though they are a little loose. If we lose again, our team will be out of the league.

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Former vs Latter | Difference & Example Sentences

Former and latter are both used (with ‘the’) to refer to previously mentioned items in a list of two or more things. This is done to save space and reduce repetition.

  • Former can be used to refer back to the first person or thing in a list. It can also be used to mean ‘previous’ or to refer to a past state.
  • Latter can be used to refer back to the last person or thing in a list. It can also be used to refer to a subsequent time or period.
Examples: ‘Former’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Latter’ in a sentence
I was offered soup or salad, and I chose the former. Norway and Italy are both beautiful, but the latter is much warmer.
The former president is running for election again. He faced many difficulties in the latter half of his life.
Note
Some style guides argue that former and latter should only be used in lists containing two items, and this is certainly the most common way of using the words. However, it’s quite possible to use the words with longer lists, too.

If you do want to avoid this, you can use ‘first’ and “last” instead. And you’ll always have to use a different word to refer to one of the middle items in a list (e.g., ‘the third’).

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Compliment or Complement | Difference & Examples

Compliment and complement are pronounced the same, but they have different meanings.

  • Compliment (with an ‘i’) can be used as a noun to refer to admiration or praise. As a verb, it refers to the act of praising.
  • Complement (with an ‘e’) can be used as a noun to refer to something that completes or enhances something else. As a verb, it refers to this act of completing or enhancing.
Examples: ‘Compliment’ in a sentence Examples: ‘Complement’ in a sentence
Hannah received a compliment on her new summer dress. The acidity of the wine complements the flavor of the fish.
Peggy complimented Alex on his excellent gardening skills. The color of the painting is a nice complement to the color of the furniture.

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