10 Most Common English Wording Mistakes made by Malaysians

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Some English words are particularly tricky and can be confusing. Below are some of the most common mistakes made by Malaysians when it comes to English wording. We must admit, we still get confused with some of the words, especially #10.


1) It’s vs its

[It’s] has the meaning of “it has” or “it is”. E.g. It’s a lovely day today.

[Its] is the possessive form of it, meaning ‘of it’. E.g. The tree has lost all its leaves

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2) Principal vs Principle

[Principal] usually is an adjective which refers to the main or most important. E.g. One of the countries principal cities is Kuala Lumpur. [Principal] could also be used as a noun, to refer to the most senior or important person. E.g. The school’s principal is upset with the students.

[Principle] usually is used as a noun meaning the fundamental basis of a system of thought or believes. E.g. It is against my principle to hit a woman.

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3) Affect vs Effect

[Affect] is usually a verb. To affect something is to change or influence it. E.g. The water cut affected many people.

[Effect] is usually a noun. Effect is something that happens due to a cause. E.g. The effect of the medicine takes a while.

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4) Lose vs Loose

[Lose] is only a verb. To lose is to suffer a loss, to be deprived of, to part with, or to fail to keep possession of. E.g. I hate to lose in badminton.

[Loose] is mainly an adjective used to describe things that are not tightly fitted. E.g. The screw have came loose.

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5) Accept vs Except

[Accept] is a verb. To accept something is to agree to receive the object or action. E.g. I accept your invitation to dinner.

[Except] can be a preposition, conjunction, or a verb. In all forms the general meaning is to exclude, leave out, or be outside of a group or set. E.g. I can resist not eating anything, except for cheesecakes

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6) Complement vs Compliment

[To complement] is to complete something, supplement it, enhance it, or bring it to perfection. E.g. Your necklace complement your dress.

[To compliment] is to give praise. E.g. Jack always compliment girls who dresses up sexy.

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7) Brought vs Bought

[Bought] is the past tense of ‘buy’. E.g. I bought a new car last week.

[Brought] is the past tense of ‘bring’. E.g. I brought him a glass of water.

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8) Desert vs Dessert

[Desert] may be pronounced two ways, when the first syllable is stressed, as in DEsert, it is a noun or adjective meaning a dry, desolate area, especially one covered in sand. E.g. The DEsert night was cold and dark. When pronounced as deSERT, the word means to abandon or to leave someone. E.g. She deSERTED her friend in a time of need.

[Dessert] is the sweet course of a meal, usually eaten at the end of the meal. E.g. Joey favourite dessert is ice cream

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9) Stationary vs Stationery

[Stationary] is a adjective which means ‘fixed in one place and not moving’. E.g. He likes to ride the stationary bicycle for exercise.

[Stationery] is a noun which means ‘the paper, writing materials or office supplies’. E.g. She bought stationery for writing.

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10) Donation vs “Donation”

[Donation] is a noun, an act or instance of presenting something as a gift. E.g. Peggy loves giving donation to charitable organization.

[“Donation”] is an act of cover up when excess money is found. E.g. Ajid received donation of RM2.6b from Saudi Arabia.