Spelling, Vocabulary, and Confusing Words
Many words in English sound or look alike, causing confusion and not a few headaches. This section lists some of these words, and other troublemakers.
Waist: the part of the human body between the ribs and hips.
Waste: garbage (noun); to squander (verb); to spend uselessly (verb).
Wait: to stay; to be available.
Weight: heaviness; significance.
Waiver: relinquishment of a right.
Waver: to feel indecisive; to swing unsteadily.
Warn: to notify about trouble.
Worn: carried on the body; deteriorated.
Warrantee: a person who is given a written guarantee or a warrant.
Warranty: a written guarantee.
Wary: mistrustful; guarded.
Weary: exhausted; drained.
Way: a method; a direction; a manner.
Weigh: to measure mass; to mull over.
WAYS TO GO
A ways to go, meaning "a considerable distance," is best avoided in formal writing.
Weak: lacking strength.
Week: a period of seven days.
Weather: climatic conditions (noun); to withstand (verb).
Whether: if; in case.
WHETHER OR NOT
Often, the or not can be dropped, as in I don't know whether or not you've heard this.
See who, which, that.
Wile: a ploy to fool, trap, or entice.
WHO, WHICH, THAT
Use who only when referring to humans. Avoid such usages as a company who or a country who or a dog who. For those, that or which is correct.
Contrary to superstition, that is perfectly acceptable when applied to people. The Man That Got Away and The Girl That I Marry, two hit ballads from the mid-twentieth century, were written at a time when the popular culture expected literacy from its songwriters. And don't forget the famous quotation from the Gospel of John which begins, "He that is without sin among you …"
Which as a pronoun should never refer to humans. (It's an adjective in sentences like Which man do you mean?)
See hole, whole.
See holy, wholly.
Who's is a contraction of who is or who has.
Whose is the possessive case of who.
Who's the man whose wife called?
WITH REGARD(S) TO
See in regard(s) to, with regard(s) to.
Won't: contraction of will not.
Wont: habit; custom (nouns); accustomed (adjective).
See warn, worn.
See rack, wrack.
See rap, wrap.
See reek, wreak.
WREAK (WRECK) HAVOC
Because wreak havoc means "to cause destruction," some mistakenly think the first word of the phrase is wreck.
See rest, wrest.
See retch, wretch.
See ring, wring.
See right, rite, write.
See rye, wry.