Confusing Verbs with Nouns

When two words look alike, one is most likely a verb and, the other, a noun
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In English, some words are spelled and pronounced similarly. This similarity poses problems for English as Foreign Language (EFL) learners as they have a hard time telling which is which. Additionally, there are cases of which the similar word pair comprises of a noun and a verb.


Before we continue, remember that a noun denotes an object, idea, person, or place. A verb denotes an action or state.


Confusing Verbs with Nouns


The word ‘affect’ is a verb. It means to make a difference to something. The word ‘effect’ is a noun. That is the change or result of an action or other cause.


Here are some examples:

  • Water pollution can affect marine life.
  • The mutant sharks are the effect of pollution on marine life.



In this case, the word ‘advise’ is a verb and ‘advice’ is a noun. To advise someone means to offer or recommend suggestions. Advice is what you get when someone is advising you of something.


Here are some examples:

  • My dad gives the best advice.
  • My dad advises me to study quantum physics.
  • Can you advise me on this matter?
  • I need your advice on this matter.

In British English, when two words are pronounced similarly and yet one ends with an ‘-ise’ while the other with an ‘-ice’, it’s usually because the first is a verb and the second is a noun. Some words in American English still follow this rule.



To devise means to plan or invent something. A device is something made for a particular purpose. You usually use it to refer electronic or mechanical equipment.


Here are some examples:

  • This device can locate ghosts within a 10km radius.
  • Marty devises a blueprint for a photonic ghost trap.

OK, that’s it for our short examples of verbs and nouns in English that can be confused because of the similarity in spelling and pronunciation.


If you still find it hard to differentiate between the two, check your writing on the That handy tool checks both the spelling and the grammar of your writing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many grammatical rules and exceptions of the English language, give the tool a try.