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Continuing with my earlier article Improve Your English Grammar – Quick Guide – Part 1” in this article I have tried to capture some more words used interchangeably by a lot of people, but in the wrong context, albeit inadvertently.

1. A lot

A lot are two words and not a single word.

Examples of using “ a lot”

(a) There’s a lot of distance yet to be covered;
(b) My statement means a lot to him.

2. Weather vs Whether

“Weather” is the word used in relation to temperature, precipitation etc.
“Whether” is used to mean a condition. It introduces two alternatives.

Quick Test

Try replacing “whether” in your sentence with “if”. If it makes sense then use whether else, use weather.

Examples of using “whether”

(a) Do you know whether he is coming;
(b) You’ll do it whether you like it or not.

Examples of using “weather”

(a) How’s the weather;
(b) The weather is always great this time of the year.

3. Continual/ Continuous

‘Continual” indicates something continues over a period of time, with intervals of interruption. To put simply, it means start and stop.
‘Continuous” indicates duration without interruption, never ending.

Quick test

‘Continual’ things come and go, like rains and arguments. It is chronic like a cough that comes and goes.
‘Continuous’ things never stop, like a circle.

Examples of using “continual”

(a) With continual rains you will great sunny breaks;
(b) A long and continual war.

Examples of using “continuous”

(a) With continuous rains you will never see the rains;
(b) There are so many books in that store.

4. Lay vs Lie

“Lay” requires a direct object. It means to put or set something down, so if the subject is acting on an object. The past tense of ‘lay’ is laid.

“Lie” is defined to mean “to be, to stay or to assume rest”. Lie doesn’t require an object, so the subject is the one doing the lying. The past tense of lie is lay.

Examples of using “Lay”

(a) I lay down the book;
(b) I lay my head down on the pillow/ I laid my head down on the pillow.

In both the above examples ‘You’, the subject set down the book/pillow, the object

Examples of using “Lie”

(a) The rocks lie near the river/ The rocks lay near the water;
(b) I lie down to sleep.

5. That vs Who

Use “That” when you are talking about something/objects.
Use “Who” when you are talking about someone or a group of people.

Examples of using “That”

(a) The house that became famous for its beautiful architecture;
(b) The apartment above me is the one that all the noise is coming from.

Examples of using “Who”

(a) Raghav, the person who owns that property is a very nice person;
(b) Prasad, who is a fine writer, celebrated his birthday yesterday.

6. That vs Which

“That” should be used to introduce a restrictive clause.

“Which” should be used to introduce a non-restrictive clause.  Think of it as adding more information. A “restrictive clause” is essential to the meaning of a sentence – if its removed the meaning of the sentence will change, whereas a “non-restrictive” clause can be left out without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Examples of using “That”

(a) My dog that is small is very cute;
(b) Who ate the cake that I bought this morning.

Examples of using “Which”

(a) My car, which is 15 years old still runs very smoothly;
(b) I sat on an uncomfortable chair, which was lying in my office.

7. Compliment vs Complement

“Compliment” is what you pay to someone or something. It’s defined as “an expression of esteem, affection, admiration etc”.
“Complement” refers to something going well with or enhancing something else. It is defined to mean “something complete”.

Examples of using “Compliment”

(a) Deevesh has been getting lot of compliments for his success in exams;
(b) I was trying to pay that girl a compliment, but she ignored me.

Examples of using “Complement”

(a) The illustrations complement the text;
(b) People say the colour complements the green in her eyes.

8. Nor vs Or

“Nor” is negative.
“Or” is used to connect different possibilities.

Always use ‘nor’ with neither and ‘or' with either.

Examples of using “Nor”

(a) He drinks neither wine nor beer;
(b) Neither Manish nor Purti would be coming to the party.

Examples of using “Or”

(a) He doesn’t drink wine or beer;
(b) Is it Tuesday today or Wednesday.

9. Comprise vs Compose

“Comprise” refers to what something contains. The word is used at the beginning of the sentence.
“Compose” means ‘to combine, to put something in order or to make up’. The word is used at the end of the sentence.

Examples of using “Comprise”

(a) The class comprises 15 boys and 15 girls;
(b) The house comprises 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms.

Examples of using “Compose”

(a) India is composed of 28 states;
(b) The rock is composed of three materials.

I hope you would have find them useful. You can also look at my previous article “How To Correct Your English Grammar – Part 1” to read more of such words. Till then, please keep practicing on the words I have discussed above and feel free to write to me on my blog with your feedback and suggestions. Stay blessed and keep reading my blog…

Authored by Nimish Goel (, a chartered accountant with more than 12 years of experience and who’s passion is to coach and help young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.


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