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Words from the same family

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In English, you might have come across some words that sound particularly similar or are from the same ‘family’ that it might lead you to some confusion. Don’t panic! It is completely understandable as English has got a lot of them!
Words from the same family are words coming from the same lexical field and which have a common pattern: a sound, a syllable or a letter.


Today, we will be focusing on a few of them and working out how to distinguish them from each other. Sometimes, the only trick to learn them is to get familiar with them or sometimes, a prefix or a letter in the word may lead you to understanding the meaning behind it.

First of all, let’s focus on the following words: migration, immigration, emigrate, immigrant.
‘Migration’ and ‘immigration’ sound extremely similar, however, the meaning is slightly different. Immigration denotes the act of moving from a country to another with your family for instance due to political trouble, immigration is a formal action.


On the other hand, ‘migration’ denotes the idea of movement which can be done within a country or across the border. Migration may be used for people or even birds. The idea of movement is what matters in this word.


Example: Immigration policies in the UK are being threatened after the Brexit vote.

/immigration certificate

Example: Birds have migrated from a region to another due to climate change.


‘Emigrate’ means that you leave your country to settle permanently into another.
Example: He emigrated from England to America because he found a better job there.


An ‘immigrant’ is the noun which is used to describe a person who has left their own country to live in another.
Example: The number of immigrants has increased in the past 10 years.


The difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ is very simple, ‘to affect’ is the verb which describes the action of having effects on someone or something. For example: ‘The weather is affecting my mood, I hate winter’.

‘Effect’ is a noun which describes the circumstances (positive or negative) something might have had on someone or in a situation.

Example: ‘The effects climate change has had on animals in the North Pole are highly visible’.


‘Affect’ and ‘Effect’ are slightly different in terms of pronunciation: ‘to affect’ is pronounced /Əfekt/, whereas ‘effect’ is pronounced /Ifekt/.

effect affect blue examples comic
Now, let’s take a look into the word ‘suspect’. You could use ‘suspect’ as a verb: ‘to suspect’ or as a noun ‘a suspect’.
A suspect is the person who is accused of having done something, the person who people will have doubts about in a certain situation.
To suspect is the action of blaming someone for something or noticing something is odd or going wrong.

Let’s take 2 examples to find out more clearly how they differ from each other.

Example: 'He suspected a problem with the gas’'. In this sentence, it means the person has doubts about a situation, they notice something is wrong. 
Example: ’They held 2 suspects for this case and they will both be contacted in a few weeks.’
Not only these words have different meanings, they also are pronounced differently. The verb ‘to suspect’ will hold the accent on the second syllable (pronounced with the SHWA on the first syllable: /sƏspekt/), whereas the noun ‘a suspect’ will have the accent on the first syllable holding a 1-0 pattern in phonetics: /sʌspekt/.

silouhette homme black white

The same confusion may occur with the word ‘practise’ and ‘practice’. When used with the ‘s’, it describes the action of practising something. For instance: ‘I am practising my French at the moment as I am going away in the summer for a holiday in Cannes’.


With the noun, you could say: ‘I have had some practice and feel like I am able to hold a conversation in French now’.

The word category is mainly what differs for this example. Bear in mind that the ‘s’ and ‘c’ is very important to note the difference in these 2 words.

There are of course many other confusing words in the English language, we mainly focused on a few today but why not find out about the others :).