As you know, English is never simple! You may feel as though you’ve got the hang of adjectives, but I’m about to throw a spanner in the works.


Some adjectives may trick you. They look alike, have similar meanings, but are used in different ways. For example, we can describe a day as being fun or funny.

  • A fun day means, it was enjoyable or entertaining.
  • A funny day means we laughed a lot, it was hilarious.


Take a look at the list below and try and learn the differences.

confusing adjectives list

Here are the most commonly confused adjectives, adverbs and determiners in English.

boring vs bored

  • boring
    meaning – not entertaining, uninteresting
    example – Sally is being boring; she won’t come out.
  • bored
    meaning – the feeling of having nothing to do
    example – We have a power cut, I’m so bored.

each vs every

  • each
    meaning –  singular countable nouns
    example – I need to give you each 50p.
  • every
    meaning – refers to a group or frequency of doing something
    example – Everyone is coming to my party.

embarrassing vs embarrassed

  • embarrassing
    meaning – to cause embarrassment
    example – Tina is really drunk, she`s so embarrassing.
  • embarrassed
    meaning – the feeling of shame
    example – I couldn’t remember his name; I was so embarrassed.

exciting vs excited

  • exciting
    meaning – something is thrilling
    example – That new roller coaster is exciting.
  • excited
    meaning – the happy feeling because something good has happened or will happen
    example – I`m so excited for my 3 weeks in Greece.

few vs a few

  • few
    meaning – not many, close to zero
    example – Few people went to the meeting.
  • a few
    meaning – a small number
    example – Can I have a few of your peanuts please?

fun vs funny

  • fun
    meaning – to have a good time
    example – The kids had fun at the beach.
  • funny
    meaning – hilarious, makes you laugh
    example – The film was so funny, I was laughing all the way through it.

hard vs hardly

  • hard
    meaning – difficult or solid
    example – The test wasn’t hard.
  • hardly
    meaning – only just or no
    example – There is hardly any milk left.

high vs tall

  • high
    meaning – a long way above the ground
    example – That mountain is really high.
  • tall
    meaning – people or objects that are long and thin
    example – This is the tallest building in the town.

injure vs wound vs hurt vs pain vs ache vs sore

  • injure (v)
    meaning – to do harm or damage
    example – O`Reilly is injured, he can’t play.
  • wound (n,v)
    meaning – to do harm or damage
    example – The soldier was wounded in the battle.
  • hurt (v)
    meaning – to do harm or damage
    example – If you hurt my niece, I’ll kill you.
  • pain (n)
    meaning – an unpleasant sensation
    example – Pets are a pain in the ass.
  • ache (n,v)
    meaning – a dull continuing pain
    example – I need to call the dentist; I have a toothache.
  • sore (a,n)
    meaning – painful
    example – My knee is sore, I fell onto the concrete.

last vs latest

  • last
    meaning – opposite of first, the final in a list/sequence
    example – I came last in the race.
  • latest
    meaning – most recent
    example – Have you seen the latest Disney film?

late vs lately

  • late
    meaning – to arrive after the appointed time
    example – Don`t be late or we`ll start without you.
  • lately
    meaning – recently
    example – I`ve been thinking about you lately.

less vs fewer

  • less
    meaning – singular, uncountable
    example – people or things. It`s nice, but less salt next time.
  • fewer
    meaning – plural, countable
    example – Fewer people are going to church these days.

little vs a little

  • little 
    meaning – not much, close to zero
    example – I can’t stop and chat, I have little time.
  • a little
    meaning – a small amount
    example – I had a little cry at the film.

many vs much

  • many
    meaning – a lot, countable
    example – I have many friends.
  • much
    meaning – a lot, collective nouns, singular uncountable nouns
    example – I don’t have much money.

most vs most of vs mostly

  • most
    meaning – the majority
    example – Most guests wore a costume.
  • most of
    meaning – the majority of a certain group
    example – Most of the toys belonged to Sean.
  • mostly
    meaning – mainly
    example – We mostly sunbathed and drank cocktails.

sick vs ill

  • sick
    meaning – want to vomit
    example – I feel sick, I think the prawns were off.
  • ill
    meaning – in bad health
    example – My auntie is ill, I think she`s on the way out.

tiring vs tired

  • tiring
    meaning – to drain your energy
    example – Today was tiring with 4 kids to run around after.
  • tired
    meaning – to be exhausted
    example – I`m so tired, it was a long day.
table of con fusing adjectives
table of con fusing adjectives
table of con fusing adjectives

Do you want to learn some other common mistakes made by English learners? Head over to the useful information section and have a browse.