IELTS Speaking – Confusing Words


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– principal: both a noun and an adjective, mostly used as an adjective, meaning: (adj) primary, most important, main, major or (noun) a person who holds an important role, mostly used with the meaning ‘head teacher’.
Examiner: What are the factors which contribute to global warming?
Candidate: One of the principal factors in global warming is the greenhouse effect. Human activities are enhancing this effect due to the increasing use of heating or transportation. Another well-known one is the change in solar output.
– principle is a noun only, meaning: a belief, rule, standard, law.
Examiner: What do you think about reducing the working week to thirty five hours to decrease the unemployment rate?
Candidate: While this may sound good in principle, in practice it may be impossible to apply. It’s easy to see that more employees equals to more cost, which reduces a company’s competitiveness and its net income.


– “continuous” indicates duration without interruption.
Examiner: What is your opinion on exams?
Candidate: Personally I believe that continuous assessment will allow people to work steadily rather than depend on an intensive exam period.
– “continual” indicates duration that continues over a long period of time, but with intervals of interruption.
Examiner: What have governments done in regard to climate change?
Candidate: Governments of developing countries have continually held conferences on climate change and its potential threats to the lives of people as well as animals.


– “discover” is to determine the existence, presence, or fact of something.
– “invent” is to come up with an idea, a plan, an explanation, a theory, or a principle after a mental effort.
Examiner: What was your childhood dream?
Candidate 1: Well, I used to, and still do, have huge respect for Sir Alexander Fleming. So I wanted so badly to discover something meaningful for the human race, just like what he did with penicillin.Candidate 2: I grew up surrounded by technology devices and felt the full impact that computers made. I hoped to invent something great later in my life