Common mistakes at C1 level exams

accomplish / perform

Soldiers must perform their duties without asking questions. (Not *accomplish*) (= do a task, a service)

Churchill accomplished a great deal while he was Prime Minister. (Not *performed*) (= succeeded in doing)

accomplishment / achievement / completion

The re-unification of Germany was a great achievement. (preferable to accomplishment) (= something successfully done)

She has many accomplishments, including a command of three foreign languages. (= acquired skills)

Did the completion of the Eurotunnel go according to plan? (Not *achievement* *accomplishment*) (= finishing)

ache / hurt / pain

My head hurts. (Not *pains*) (intransitive use: you feel pain, possibly from injury)

I hurt my foot. (Not *ached* *pained* *hurted*; irregular verb: hurt - hurt - hurt (transitive use = injured)

My head aches. (Not *pains*) (intransitive; you feel dull, constant pain)

It pains me to recall my schooldays. (= makes me feel sad)

adapt (to) • adopt • adjust (to)

We have adopted the same sort of assembly methods they use in Japan. (Not *adapted*) (= taken and used)

We have adapted the assembly system they use in Japan to suit our circumstances here. (Not *adopted*) (= changed it to suit our needs)

I have found it difficult to adapt to/adjust to living in the country after living in a large city. (Not *adjust myself to*; preferable to adapt myself to)  (= become used to)

The picture is out of focus. Could you adjust it slightly please? (Not *adapt*) (= change it in order to correct it)

admittance • admission

What's the admission? - £3 a head. (Not *admittance*) (= the cost of entry)

You need to be accompanied by a member to gain admission/admittance to the club. (admission = being allowed in; admittance = being allowed in by the authorities; note No Admission = 'you won't be allowed in' and No Admittance = 'the authorities won't allow you in')

advance • progress

Now that we've mastered this step, we can progress to the next one. (preferable to advance)

We began our new course book in May and advanced/progressed rapidly.

Advance two squares. (Not *Progress*) Both advance and progress mean 'go forward', but advance is usually physical/ concrete, while progress means go forward in the sense of 'improve')

agreeable • in agreement (with)

I'm entirely in agreement with your proposal. (Not *agreeable with*)

I enjoy the company of the Robinsons. They're very agreeable. (= nice; the opposite is disagreeable)

I've discussed the idea with her and she agrees/she's in agreement. (in agreement is preferable to agreeable)

arise • rise • raise

The whole audience rose to cheer the soloist. (Not *arose* *raised*) (rise - rose - risen: intransitive = stand up)

If you'd like to ask a question, raise your hand. (Not *rise* *arise*) (raise - raised - raised: transitive = lift up)

A serious problem has arisen which will take time to solve. (Not *risen* *raised*) (arise - arose - arisen = come into being)


They have barely enough to live on. (Not *don't have barely enough*) (only one negative in any one clause; also hardly, scarcely)

barracks • shack • but • shed

Severino's family lived in a shack outside Rio. (Not *a barracks/a shed*) (= a rough dwelling of local materials)

If you want the foreman, you'll find him in his hut. (Not *barracks/shack/shed*) (= a temporary building, often made of wood, e.g. on a building site)

We need a shed to store our garden tools. (Not *barracks/hut/shack*) (= a simple permanent building, often made of wood, and used as a storeroom)

The soldiers have been confined to barracks the whole weekend. (Not *barrack*) (= military buildings for housing soldiers; with a singular verb when regarded as a single unit: the barracks is; with a plural verb when used as a collective: the barracks are; also crossroads, headquarters)

bend • curve

I always admire the fine curves in a Henry Moore sculpture. (Not *bends*)

Drive carefully. The road ahead is full of dangerous bends/curves. (a bend is more pronounced than a curve and therefore more dangerous; a curve is more rounded and U-shaped than a bend; bend is the usual word to refer to roads)

Look at the map. Do you see this curve/bend in the river?

born • borne

When were you born? (Not *When are you born?*) '

He was born in 1982. (Not *He born* *He borned* *He has born* *He was borne*) (be born = come into the world)

She has borne three children. (Not *born*) (bear - bore - borne: = give birth/carry: She has borne three children/She has borne a lot of responsibility.)

canal • channel

The channel between Britain and France is one of the world's busiest seaways. (Not *canal*) (= a narrow sea passage)

In this part of the site you can see how the Romans collected rainwater through a system of channels. (Not *canals*) (= open 'pathways' where water can run)

The Suez Canal is a major source of income for Egypt. (Not *Channel*) (= an artificial waterway system on which boats can sail)

I can't get Channel 4 because of the fog. (Not *Canal*) (= the wavelength of a TV or radio station)

compliment • complement

The inspector paid our teacher a compliment on the way she managed her class. (Not *did/made* *complement*) (= expressed appreciation, admiration; the adjective is complimentary, as in complimentary remarks)

Mustard is often thought to be the ideal complement to beef (Not *compliment*) (i.e. they go very well together; the adjective is complementary: Mustard and beef are complementary. Compliment(ary) and complement(ary) are pronounced the same)

concurrence • competition • race

Quality control is the only way to stay ahead of the competition. (Not *the concurrence* *the race*) (= those trying to do better than you)

The competition for jobs is unbelievable. (= rivalry)

No race is more demanding than the Marathon. (Not *competition*) (= a competition in speed)

Obviously, we can't do anything about this without Andrew's concurrence. (= consent)

condemned (to) • convicted (of)

He was convicted of murder and jailed for life. (Not *condemned of') (= judged to be guilty of a crime)

He was found guilty and condemned to two years in jail. (= given a punishment of)

conscience • conscientious • conscious • consciousness

When you're in Paris you can't help being conscious of the way the streets are kept clean. (Not *conscience* *conscientious*) (= aware)

A conscientious worker is an asset to any company. (Not *conscious* *conscience*) (i.e. who works seriously and with care)

If your conscience tells you it isn't the right thing to do, don't do it. (Not *conscious*) (= your inner sense of right and wrong)

He fainted and it took him a minute to regain consciousness. (Not *conscience*) (= possession of his senses)

continual • continuous

The continual noise of building going on upstairs is driving us mad. (= constant, with interruptions)

There is nothing more annoying than the continuous wailing of a burglar alarm. (= constant, without interruptions)

critic • criticism • critique • review

Did you read the excellent review of 'Hamlet' in the Sunday paper? (Not *critic* *criticism* *critique*) (= an assessment appearing in the press)

I've got one criticism to make. (Not *do*) (= unfavourable comment, spoken or written)

Donna wrote a long critique on feminism which has been widely quoted. (= a careful account of a subject, often in book form and always longer than a review)

Who's the film critic of 'The Times'? (= a person who writes reviews: reviewer)



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