Commonly Confused Words: Conscience vs. Conscious

blog home

What does each word mean?

A conscience is one’s moral sense of right and wrong and is used to guide the way one chooses to conduct themselves. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is conscience used in some example sentences:

  • She wanted to skip her spelling lesson, but her conscience knew this was wrong.
  • He couldn’t let go of his guilty conscience and eventually decided to own up to his crime.

Click here to find Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word conscience.

The adjective conscious describes the act of being aware of and responding to one’s surroundings. The word can also describe the act of knowing about something or doing something in a deliberate manner. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is conscious used in some example sentences:

  • He didn’t seem to be conscious,so she checked his pulse.
  • The head teacher was conscious of the bullying problem among the students and intervened.
  • She made a conscious effort to improve her spellings by practising on Spellzone every day.

Click here to find Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word conscious.

Where does each word come from?

Conscience dates to the early thirteenth century and moved into English via Old French. The word derives from the Latin ‘conscientia’ which was probably a loan-translation of the Greek word ‘syneidesis’ meaning ‘with-knowledge’.

Conscious first started being used in English around 1600. It comes from the Latin ‘conscius’ meaning ‘knowing, aware’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Conscience has the word science in it. Try putting both words into one sentence, for example: She had a guilty conscience about cheating on her science test.
  • Try saying the following to yourself to help you remember how to spell conscious: Always be conscious of your surroundings.
  • Try putting both words into the same sentence, for example: It is important to be conscious of listening to your conscience.

What words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series.

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary


26 Oct 2017
blog home

"Spellzone really is an incredibly simple, engaging and cost effective resource - it makes a big difference to literacy levels."

Millthorpe School, York

read more...