Primary School Vocabulary: Confuse, Confused, Confusing? Which is Which?

Primary School Vocabulary: Confuse, Confused, Confusing? Which is Which?

I confuse others.

I am confusing.

I am confused.


Welcome back to the blog! Today, I’ll be discussing word transformations. In particular, I’ll be focusing on adjectives that are derived from verbs. This topic is applicable to the vocabulary, editing and comprehension cloze components.

Primary School Vocabulary: Confuse, Confused, Confusing? Which is Which?

While I was looking over my students’ comprehension cloze answers a few days ago, I realised that some of them were confused by the form of a given word. For one of the questions, students were supposed to describe the state of technology:

Primary School Vocabulary: Confuse, Confused, Confusing? Which is Which?

Many students understood that the sentence means that medical technology in the past is not as developed as it is now.

The answer was actually ‘advanced’. However, several students gave their answers as ‘advance’. Unfortunately, the latter is wrong. Why?

1) Recognise when an adjective is needed


That is because their answer, ‘advance’, is a verb meaning ‘move forward in a purposeful way’.

However, the question required an adjective (a describing word) since it is describing the noun ‘medical technology’. As such, ‘advanced’, an adjective meaning ‘far on or ahead in development or progress’ is the answer.

Recognise when an adjective is needed

Once you have recognised what type of word is required, whether it is an adjective or a verb, you are one step closer to getting the answer. In the event that you need an adjective, what else will you need to take note of?

2) Choosing the correct adjective between two that look similar


In English, students need to be aware that adjectives can be created from verbs by the addition of certain suffixes. Of the myriad of suffixes available, -ed and -ing suffixes are common. Take a look at the verb ‘bore’ and its resultant adjectives:

Choosing the correct adjective between two that look similar

However, this often gives rise to another common error that students make. When using -ed or -ing adjectives, one should know the difference between them. Very frequently, I hear children telling me, “I didn’t like that movie. I am so boring!” Can you see what is wrong with what the children said?

I am boring. —> I am making other people bored.

I am bored. —> I am not interested.

Hence, the child should be saying, “I didn’t like that movie. I am so bored!”  I am pretty sure that the child was not trying to tell me that he makes others bored.

Take, another example, the adjectives ‘terrified’ and ‘terrifying’:

2) Choosing the correct adjective between two that look similar

So… what is the difference being the -ed and -ing form?

So… what is the difference being the -ed and -ing form?

To sum up, students need to be aware when the sentence requires a verb and an adjective. Are you describing someone or something? If you are, an adjective necessary. Next, be aware of such adjectival forms of common verbs. To help you along, below is a list of common verbs and their adjectival forms:

2) Choosing the correct adjective between two that look similar

Remember! If you want to use an adjectival form of verbs like those above, take note that they will have an -ed or -ing suffix. Without such suffixes, you will be using the verb form.

I wrote this blog post in the hopes that it would enlighten you, so I hope that this post has been enlightening and has left you enlightened!

Ms. Quek

Ms. Quek is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. She is dedicated to helping her students do well in the language through a focus on the learning process. As an educator, she believes in creating a nurturing and stimulating environment for students to learn.

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